Baku to “Poshgabat”

We last left you as we were about to throw our backpacks into to the Caspian and paddle with our fucking farmer-tanned arms. That or Jon swore he would scale the side of one of the other docked boats screaming, bottle of vodka in one hand, “Take me to Turkmenbashi!” However, the day before we departed (I’ll get to that in just a second) we managed to get in touch with some PCVs from Azerbaijan. Nice group, even nicer was the former FLEX Student who spent a year in Montana. We basically asked him to call the mean old, nasty bitch down at the boat docks every hour to find out when the fucking cargo freighter was leaving. Note: I do realize up until now I have been referring the large metal object as a ferry; it is a cargo freighter. That same FLEX student allowed us to crash at his place.
The following morning we continue calling the aforementioned mean, nasty bitch starting at 7:00 am, waking her up and thinking we’ve royally fucked ourselves. We start down the dreaded walk to the docks we’d taken the four previous mornings, only this time at exactly 10:00 am the mean nasty bitch called and said it was leaving and we needed to hurry. I won’t be happier when my first child is born.
She wasn’t lying, we bought our tickets and with a little translation help from our new found FLEX Student friend, we boarded the large metal object bound for ‘bashi. I should not continue further without saying, that if you happen to find yourself at that same dock, the café/restaurant directly to the left of the ticket office, is the place to hang out and the staff is fucking awesome. Why? Because they let us keep our huge backpacks there for two nights so we lazy bastards didn’t have to carry them back across Baku every day.
The freighter was fun. Worth the wait. Once we got our stuff actually up into the Caspian-equivalent of the Royal Caribbean, we immediately begin to wander. Jon starts eating since he’s been going on close to 20 hours+ without anything. Then we just crash. Next thing I know, a little later Jon wakes my up to the tune of “Hey, there’s this Georgian guy who wants us to drink chacha with him.” Christ, you just never leave the Caucasus. Turns out this guy is driving a semi-truck all the way to Dushanbe. Anyway, so we meet some really nice Turkmen folk and then go back down to the cave/cabin and eat the rest of the food we brought and are out for the night.
One thing to remember: we have not notified our tour guide that we left Baku and in order to get into, or so we thought, your guide must be present at the point of entry. We call the guide and of course he asks why we didn’t text him or email; told him we had no time and he was very understanding. So, he says he’s sending the guide and she should get there around 9:00 pm. We got off the boat around 12:00 pm. Great, more quality time at another shipyard – fuck yea! We basically let all the locals get off and then it’s our turn, just waiting for one of those schmucks to say, “And … where the hell is your tour guide?” Never happened; paid $12 entry fee and marched right on 2 km to the train station. No tickets available.
At this point a second call is made to Turkmen tour guide telling him we’ll take a taxi, and he says no, stay put the guide is coming, and you’ll be deported if the cops pull you over on the road. We drop our bags off in some hotel lobby with what has to be the dumbest receptionist in the entire country. We told her we needed a room – possibly – and she says go to the bank to get a certificate to prove your money was changed legally. Ourselves not knowing, making the mistake thinking she would, we go across town to find out its closed. We aimlessly walk around the lovely Turkmen port city of Turkmenbashi, swim in the Caspian and around 8:00 pm we notice a plane flying in and thinking our tour guide is potentially on it, we meander back to the motel. The staff at the café next door is making all kinds of hand gestures to tell us a girl with glasses is looking for us. It is now approximately 8:20. Jon casually orders us coffee and not even two sips in the guide comes walking up the stairs and says, “There’s a flight at 9:00 and we can make it if we hurry, let’s go!” We truly thought we’d be staying the night in the town and the guide would have fenagled our way into a room in the motel. Oh no, she was hell-bent on getting us to Ashgabat.
Jon goes into pay for the coffee, I grab the bags and Ben Hur is at the wheel. Get to the airport at 8:45 roughly, buy tickets, literally run through every security checkpoint with the sirens going off every time, behind this young, energetic Turkmen girl who is explaining to airport personnel the situation. We’re on the plane and the next thing we know we’re in our “Poshgabat” 4 star hotel room by 11:00pm.


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