While the mountains were ever present on the horizon, it was not often that we ventured into them. The Greater and Lesser Caucasus ranges sandwich the fertile valleys of Georgia and Azerbaijan, giving us fresh produce and good wine, and (mostly) snow-free roads.
Celebrating your birthday in a foreign capital is a special experience. The strange displays of wealth and the contrasts of Turkic history overlaid with inept Soviet industrial management and modern oil booms make Baku an odd and occasionally frustrating place to explore. Still, on my birthday, everything seems to be falling into place: we found the ferry office (“Parom Kassa!”) AND the Turkmenistan consulate (around the corner from the embassy, up an unmarked and muddy alley), a mechanic argreed to tune our bikes for free, the sun finally came out, and I think I might have just been invited to an Azerbaijani wedding. The year ahead looks good.