Stops: border gas station -> small town
Well, speaking of hospitality... we didn't even get half an hour from the gas station before we were pulled over by a guy waving us down as he was walking down the sidewalk. Again, establishing a common language, he INSISTED, we turn around and go back to his home for tea. He was walking somewhere, but he turned around and ran back 4 houses, animatedly pointing at the driveway. So we figured we're already not going to make it to the embassy in Baku anyway before they close for the weekend, so we decided to do what this trip is all about, and meet the locals.
We pulled in, and he led us through a gate to a field much bigger than we expected. Though it was quite rundown like every other house, it was huge! The field was 3-4 times the size of a standard townhouse backyard back home, plus there was another acre out back with hazelnut, apple, and other unknown fruit(?) trees.
He sat us down and yelled at his wife to get tea going for us. His Russian was good enough, but it took a LOT of effort on my part to focus on what he was saying and to translate.
We started getting to know each other via questions, of course. How old were we? What?! We don't have kids at 30?! What's wrong with us?? He got a bowl of young hazelnuts out for justin and started making gestures that it helps with.... you know... children. I didn't have to translate that haha, Justin got it all on his own. Charades was definitely this guy's forte throughout the afternoon...where it counted.
We talked about everything from life in Azerbaijan compared to Canada, to children (many times), to the 3 things he "taught" us:
1. As mentioned, 30 is too old and embarrassing. We should have children by now.
2. At 28, I'm too old as a wife. You should marry a 16 year old, perfect age *kissing fingers motion*
3. You should put your wife in her place once a month.
4. If justin wants to move to Azerbaijan, he'll help arrange a marriage. You're allowed 4 wives here! (We'll have to double check this fact when I have wifi).
5. Women are not allowed to drink in AZ. No beer, no wine, no champagne, nothing. But justin was driving, so it fell on me to share a bottle of vodka with Farman (Fioder). He went to buy a bottle next door, came back, we cracked it and between him and I, we shot it all down in true Russian style.
6. Apparently I know how to make a toast, thank you mom and dad!
7. Also, apparently he was impressed by my handshake and said I should tone it down so at to not break Justin.
8. Also also, i was continuously forced to keep eating because I currently have a young boy's body...(?!) which is apparently a good thing (?!)
9. He had the wife cook up a meal which she couldn't eat until we left. Apparently guests always eat first, not together.
10. In AZ, the government used to give you $50 for having a child a month, it was called "milk money". But now apparently the government is stingy and you only get it as a one time payment at birth.
11. Speaking of birth, he will never forgive his wife and the hospital that told him he'll have a son for his second child and he ended up with a second daughter.
12. In Kazakhstan, do not trust anyone with these kind of eyes *proceeds to stretch his eyes into slits*. They're all thieves.
13. Speaking of which, they're also all barbarians, eat in the ground and out of a communal pot.
14. But he then insisted we're all family and started eating the buttermilk out of Justin's glass.
It was all light hearted and funny at the time, but as I'm writing all these points, it's very much a "holy crap".
I went to the car and offered him the only thing we could: a pack of cigarettes and some nail polish for the girls who squealed and wasted no time in putting it on.
He kept saying he didn't have much but what is his is ours. He offered us a place to stay the night if we had more time, and his wife kept bringing out stuff - everything homemade, from jam to buttermilk to rolling out and cooking some sort of oiled up cheesy tortillas right in front of us.
This was an amazing experience, to be so welcomed by a complete stranger into their home, with young children, and to be able to compare our incredibly different worlds.
The only thing that killed it a little bit was our paranoia and him asking us for money. To be fair, he only asked for 5AZB which is 3CAD because he was embarrassed he didn't have any vodka to put on the table. So he ran next door, grabbed a bottle of vodka and came back. He apologized for asking and said he's not that sort of man, and his wife was consistently tsk-ing him embarrassed. I'm not a vodka drinker but the shots went down smoothly! Would drink again.
The paranoia kicked in when he went to the store and we sat there waiting with his wife who didn't speak a word of English or Russian. They had argued as he left (probably about the asking for money thing) but we got a little worried about our car in the driveway as we couldn't see it from where we were sitting. So justin all of a sudden "needed" something, went out, but No Ragrets was all alone. We felt bad for thinking this way, but can't be too safe.
If anything, he wouldn't let us leave without taking us out back, giving us a grocery bag, and picking the trees of fruits and nuts until the bag was full. His wife even poured a jar full of buttermilk and wouldn't take no for an answer.
All in all, it was a great few hours, and although it put us quite behind schedule, we have no regrets.