wet lands of the forgotten people

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When I left the museum/hotel, it seemed as though the whole place was asleep. The season was over, I was told, there were no tourists and almost no visitors.

rest area near the ruins

And then something very good happened. If you look at the map, you will see a river that runs from the north to the south, a river which I would have to walk around if I wanted to continue on further west.

Well, it turned out that there was a brand new bridge to the other side:

river near the ruins

There was a village on the other side. It seemed to be asleep as well:

other side of the river

One thing about Azerbaijan is the abundance of public drinking fountains:

water fountain

They were all over the place, and often they have little inscriptions.

I had to get back to the highway in the north, and the road there seemed to be absolutely deserted:

quiet road

Once I had reached the highway I stocked up on bread, tomatoes, and water at this little shop:

Ucuz Market

They asked me where I was going:

dudes at a shop

I told them that I was on my way to church.

So I turned back south again, on a village road that led past decorated agricultural machines:

decorated agricultural machine

And buildings that looked too big for their surroundings:

old structure

Then I found the church I had been looking for:

Alban-Udi Church Chotari from afar

It was the Alban-Udi Church Chotari:

Alban-Udi Church Chotari

Historically, the Turkic people whom we call Azerbaijanis or Azeris were relatively new. Before their arrival, this part of mountainous Azerbaijan had been called Albania (not to be confused with the Balkan state, with which it had nothing to do), and it had been Christian.

Today, there was almost nothing left of this Caucasian Albania, save for a small village called Nij, which was populated by a people called the Udi. They were Christians, and so they had their own Christian church:

door of the Alban-Udi Church Chotari

It was of course an Orthodox church, which meant that women were expected to cover their hair before entering:

headscarves at the Alban-Udi Church Chotari

It also meant lots and lots of icons:

inside the Alban-Udi Church Chotari

And possibly even more pictures of Jesus than you would find in a Catholic church:

Jesus picture in the Alban-Udi Church Chotari

There was a place where one could light candles:

candles in the Alban-Udi Church Chotari

I lit two, as I always do:

lighting candles in the Alban-Udi Church Chotari

And as I was leaving I noticed two things. Firstly, the bible the Udi used was in Russian:

bible in the Alban-Udi Church Chotari

And secondly, they had a picture of Jesus that looked like an angry Rastafari:

Rhasta Jesus?

I liked it a lot.

It was on my way out of the village of Nij that I found out that it was located in a swamp land – there was wetness everywhere:

road in Nij

I ran into some cows:

cows

As a general rule, cows were always terrified of the Caboose and me. But not today. There was one cow that turned out to be insatiably greedy:

greedy cow

I declared her the best cow I had ever met.

Then I ran into this gentleman:

Isaac

He was one of the Udi, and he told me that there weren’t that many of them left. Thousands had gone to Russia, he said, when clashed erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the 1990s, and the Christian Udi were caught in the middle.

His name was Isaac. “Like Isaac Newton”, he said.

I walked through the wetness some more, unsure what to do and where to spend the night:

wet road through Nij

Then I set up my tent in a quiet spot between some plants:

camp near Nij

It turned into a very wet night:

wet night near Nij

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