The capital Baku - a brightly lit city full of wide boulevards and European architectural, and oil donkeys just off shore.

The capital Baku - a brightly lit city full of wide boulevards and European architectural, and oil donkeys just off shore.

 The graffitied wall of a school in Baku showing the hodgepodge of lingual and cultural influences in Azerbaijan.

The graffitied wall of a school in Baku showing the hodgepodge of lingual and cultural influences in Azerbaijan.

 Block by block facelifts ensure large portions of downtown Baku is under construction at any given time.

Block by block facelifts ensure large portions of downtown Baku is under construction at any given time.

 A bucket of tar warming over a flame in a recently demolished block near downtown Baku. Entire sections of the city are being cleared to feed the real estate demands of the recent oil and gas boom.

A bucket of tar warming over a flame in a recently demolished block near downtown Baku. Entire sections of the city are being cleared to feed the real estate demands of the recent oil and gas boom.

 Block by block facelifts and new skyscrapers are under construction all over the city.

Block by block facelifts and new skyscrapers are under construction all over the city.

 The soon to be finished Flame Towers - just another example of the glisty new architecture that has sprouted out of the capital Baku during Azerbaijan's 21st century oil and gas boom.

The soon to be finished Flame Towers - just another example of the glisty new architecture that has sprouted out of the capital Baku during Azerbaijan's 21st century oil and gas boom.

 A cemetery with a view of the entire capital. The graves are for the victims of Black January (when Soviet troops opened fire in Baku in January 1990) and the Armenia-Azerbaijan war that followed for the first half of that tumultuous decade.

A cemetery with a view of the entire capital. The graves are for the victims of Black January (when Soviet troops opened fire in Baku in January 1990) and the Armenia-Azerbaijan war that followed for the first half of that tumultuous decade.

 From a tank cemetery just outside Baku. [For more info, see Tank Cemetery entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

From a tank cemetery just outside Baku. [For more info, see Tank Cemetery entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

 From a tank cemetery just outside Baku. [For more info, see Tank Cemetery entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

From a tank cemetery just outside Baku. [For more info, see Tank Cemetery entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

 Tanks en route to the cease fire line.

Tanks en route to the cease fire line.

Inside the old school house in the town of Barda, where some of
Inside the old school house in the town of Barda, where some of

Inside the old school house in the town of Barda, where some of Azerbaijan's internally displaced families go about domestic tasks alongside the two schools that exist inside the same building. Azerbaijan has the world's largest percentage of interally displaced people, with roughly one out of nine people displaced by the war in the early 1990s with Armenia.

 One of the countless monuments to Heydar Aliyev, this one in front of the country's central bank. Heydar was a member of the Soviet Union's leadership before reemerging as the absolute leader of Azerbaijan during the tumulteous period of indepedence and war in the early 1990's. He is widely credited with creating both the stability and the monopoly on political power exhibited by the government of his son - and current president - Ilham Aliyev.

One of the countless monuments to Heydar Aliyev, this one in front of the country's central bank. Heydar was a member of the Soviet Union's leadership before reemerging as the absolute leader of Azerbaijan during the tumulteous period of indepedence and war in the early 1990's. He is widely credited with creating both the stability and the monopoly on political power exhibited by the government of his son - and current president - Ilham Aliyev.

 Heydar Aliyev, the former president of Azerbaijan, would have turned 88 years old on May 10, 2011. Thousands of flowers from 50 countries covered the park between the Heydar Aliyev Palace and the statue of Heydar Aliyev as two hot air balloons were inflated in front of the giant flower mosaic of Heydar Aliyev (pictured here), ensuring that his unmistakable Kremlin-Mona-Lisa smile would soar above the city already covered by his portraits.

Heydar Aliyev, the former president of Azerbaijan, would have turned 88 years old on May 10, 2011. Thousands of flowers from 50 countries covered the park between the Heydar Aliyev Palace and the statue of Heydar Aliyev as two hot air balloons were inflated in front of the giant flower mosaic of Heydar Aliyev (pictured here), ensuring that his unmistakable Kremlin-Mona-Lisa smile would soar above the city already covered by his portraits.

Strongman
Strongman

Hot air balloons being inflated in Baku to celebrate Flower Day and the 88th birthday of nation's deceased and revered strongman Heydar Aliyev.

Fountain Square
Fountain Square

Baku's fountain square, which after a recent renovation is filled with gushing fountains, water shows on the boulevard along the Caspian coast and slippery, shining marble underfoot. A fitting symbol for the recent wealthy of a priviledged section of Azerbaijan society. Spending in infrastructure lags behind though, as one friend remarked "fountains don't keep you warm in the winter."

 Journalists recording a show of force by the government on a day of protests organized by the opposition in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Journalists recording a show of force by the government on a day of protests organized by the opposition in Baku, Azerbaijan.

 Every week AG Bank had the front page ad on the English language AzerNews. Their motto: "You are right to be rich."

Every week AG Bank had the front page ad on the English language AzerNews. Their motto: "You are right to be rich."

 A portrait of a Baku-based entertainment reporter for news.az on the overnight train to Tbilisi.

A portrait of a Baku-based entertainment reporter for news.az on the overnight train to Tbilisi.

 One of many people detained by Azerbaijani police during a recent protest rally that showed the weak state of both the opposition and free speech in Azerbaijan. While journalists were relatively free to document the arrests, a simple utterance of "freedom" or even no reason at all was sufficient for the police to forcefully seize and detain dozens of people.

One of many people detained by Azerbaijani police during a recent protest rally that showed the weak state of both the opposition and free speech in Azerbaijan. While journalists were relatively free to document the arrests, a simple utterance of "freedom" or even no reason at all was sufficient for the police to forcefully seize and detain dozens of people.

 Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, an activist and blogger was given a copy of Franz Kafka's "The Trial" at his own trial. He was sentenced to prison for a year for  evading military services. His conviction and detention have been protested by many human rights groups.

Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, an activist and blogger was given a copy of Franz Kafka's "The Trial" at his own trial. He was sentenced to prison for a year for evading military services. His conviction and detention have been protested by many human rights groups.

 An outdoor restuarant in an orchard off the highway to Baku.

An outdoor restuarant in an orchard off the highway to Baku.

 A Baku resident in one of the capital's remaining turn of the century architectural areas.

A Baku resident in one of the capital's remaining turn of the century architectural areas.

 Murals adorn the Baku metro

Murals adorn the Baku metro

DSC_1366.jpg
 Home repair in Xinaliq, Azerbaijan

Home repair in Xinaliq, Azerbaijan

 Xinaliq village, Azerbaijan

Xinaliq village, Azerbaijan

 Xinaliq village, Azerbaijan

Xinaliq village, Azerbaijan

 Xinaliq village, Azerbaijan

Xinaliq village, Azerbaijan

 A flock of sheep on their way back to Xinaliq after a winter in the lowlands.

A flock of sheep on their way back to Xinaliq after a winter in the lowlands.

 Children in Xinaliq shooing their livestock back from the hills and into their stone barns for the night.

Children in Xinaliq shooing their livestock back from the hills and into their stone barns for the night.

 The government has been paying all the working-age men in Xinaliq to repair their village and turn it into a tourist attraction. This  has stemmed the flow of youth to the cities.

The government has been paying all the working-age men in Xinaliq to repair their village and turn it into a tourist attraction. This has stemmed the flow of youth to the cities.

 Sheep and railroad - my favorite combination.

Sheep and railroad - my favorite combination.

 Qobustan mud volcanoes. [For more info, see the Mud Volcanoes entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

Qobustan mud volcanoes. [For more info, see the Mud Volcanoes entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

DSC_1072.jpg
 A woman in a chador walks along the streets of Nardaran, with the country's largest pir in the background.

A woman in a chador walks along the streets of Nardaran, with the country's largest pir in the background.

Flood Victims
Flood Victims

Flood victims waiting at regional executive authority for aid before the winter months. The flooding of the Araz and Kura river destroyed thousands of homes and livelihoods in April and May of 2010.

 One of the few remaining Karabagh horses - a breed that was almost extinguished during the Azerbaijan-Armenian war in the 1990's.

One of the few remaining Karabagh horses - a breed that was almost extinguished during the Azerbaijan-Armenian war in the 1990's.

Rural Store
Rural Store

A rural store operates out of the back of a van in this mountain village near Sheki in northern Azerbaijan.

 A villager from Kish, wearing a traditional Caucasian hat at a wedding.

A villager from Kish, wearing a traditional Caucasian hat at a wedding.

 A resident of a small village near Sabirabad, with his flood ravaged home behind him.

A resident of a small village near Sabirabad, with his flood ravaged home behind him.

 Mehman Ahmedli, a lifelong meykhana poet who runs the Ahmedli (a settlement of Baku outside the main city) school, practicing the rhythmic improvisations with his students. [For more info, see Meykhana entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

Mehman Ahmedli, a lifelong meykhana poet who runs the Ahmedli (a settlement of Baku outside the main city) school, practicing the rhythmic improvisations with his students. [For more info, see Meykhana entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

 A resident of a small village near Sabirabad. He walks with a limp after he said police beat him when he protested the uneven distribution of relief after the flood.

A resident of a small village near Sabirabad. He walks with a limp after he said police beat him when he protested the uneven distribution of relief after the flood.

Home Improvement
Home Improvement

An old man repairs a farming impliment with an improvised torch: a rod electrified by a car battery.

Two Molokan Farmers
Two Molokan Farmers

Subsistence farming is main the source of food and income in most of qrural Azerbaijan.

Farmers
Farmers

Oleg piles hay for his Azeri neighbor. This is a typical temporary, low paying job available to young people in Kirovka.

Molokan Kitchen
Molokan Kitchen

Molokan women inside the prayer room prepare the traditional lapsha, which will be cut into thin noodles and served in a broth at the funeral service.

Funeral
Funeral

Molokan from the villages of Kirovka and Chukhuyurd gather to bury Ivan Varonin at the cemetery between the two villages.

 Molokan priest, who every calls "Pope." Molokans were expelled from Tsarist Russia for their austere beliefs.

Molokan priest, who every calls "Pope." Molokans were expelled from Tsarist Russia for their austere beliefs.

 Inside the Bibi Hibat Pir outside Baku, rebuilt in the 1990s. [For more info, see pirs entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

Inside the Bibi Hibat Pir outside Baku, rebuilt in the 1990s. [For more info, see pirs entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

 Inside the Bibi Hibat Pir outside Baku, rebuilt in the 1990s.

Inside the Bibi Hibat Pir outside Baku, rebuilt in the 1990s.

Toad
Toad

A toad in the fields around the village of Kirovka.

 Long before there was an Azerbaijan, an Armenia, a Georgia, a Russia, a Persia – before any of that there were the Gobustan petroglyphs.  [For more info, see the Mud Volcanoes entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

Long before there was an Azerbaijan, an Armenia, a Georgia, a Russia, a Persia – before any of that there were the Gobustan petroglyphs. [For more info, see the Mud Volcanoes entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

 A blind tea house owner in Sheki, Azerbaijan.

A blind tea house owner in Sheki, Azerbaijan.

 The pir of Sheik Ehmed and Mullah Mustafa in Bash Shabalid, a village at the base of the Greater Caucasus Mountains.

The pir of Sheik Ehmed and Mullah Mustafa in Bash Shabalid, a village at the base of the Greater Caucasus Mountains.

 A freshly killed sheep is sold in the Bash Shabalid village.

A freshly killed sheep is sold in the Bash Shabalid village.

 A beekeeper and farmer in Bash Shabalid, a village at the base of the Greater Caucasus Mountains.

A beekeeper and farmer in Bash Shabalid, a village at the base of the Greater Caucasus Mountains.

 A busy market in Lenkeran, a city near Azerbaijan's southern border with Iran.

A busy market in Lenkeran, a city near Azerbaijan's southern border with Iran.

 A girl touches a holy scroll covered in the names of Allah and the twelve Imams of Shiite Islam in Pensar, a small village in the south Azerbaijan, near the Iranian border.

A girl touches a holy scroll covered in the names of Allah and the twelve Imams of Shiite Islam in Pensar, a small village in the south Azerbaijan, near the Iranian border.

 Even in the far off village of Pensar in southern Azerbaijan, the pir contain a picture of Mir Movsum Aga, the "bone less" or "meat" holy man from the Absheron peninsula.

Even in the far off village of Pensar in southern Azerbaijan, the pir contain a picture of Mir Movsum Aga, the "bone less" or "meat" holy man from the Absheron peninsula.

 Apples in a busy market in Lenkeran, a city near Azerbaijan's southern border with Iran.

Apples in a busy market in Lenkeran, a city near Azerbaijan's southern border with Iran.

 Leyla Akhundova bring the rescued puppies to the temporary shelter in Mashtaga.

Leyla Akhundova bring the rescued puppies to the temporary shelter in Mashtaga.

 Dog bites cover the arms of one Alliance volunteer who has the most experience as a dog catcher.

Dog bites cover the arms of one Alliance volunteer who has the most experience as a dog catcher.

 Sheep heading out to their grazing areas in the village of Lahij, Azerbaijan.

Sheep heading out to their grazing areas in the village of Lahij, Azerbaijan.

 A blacksmith making traditional iron goods in Lerik, Azerbaijan.

A blacksmith making traditional iron goods in Lerik, Azerbaijan.

 The weekly livestock market fills up by sunrise in the largerly rural region of Sabirabad.

The weekly livestock market fills up by sunrise in the largerly rural region of Sabirabad.

 The weekly livestock market fills up by sunrise in the largerly rural region of Sabirabad.

The weekly livestock market fills up by sunrise in the largerly rural region of Sabirabad.

 Many say life has returned to normal since the floods in Gazembeyli, one of the hardest hit villages.

Many say life has returned to normal since the floods in Gazembeyli, one of the hardest hit villages.

 A lamb in a bag! (near Xinaliq, Azerbaijan)

A lamb in a bag! (near Xinaliq, Azerbaijan)

 Elderly woman and child in Xinaliq, Azerbaijan.

Elderly woman and child in Xinaliq, Azerbaijan.

 A lamb in Xinaliq.

A lamb in Xinaliq.

 A tour operator, shows a photo of the same "soviet jeep" he currently drives cause in the river before the new 2006 road was opened. He said he took his first foreigner on an adventure tour a decade ago. "I was so happy I asked for his autograph," he said, "Since then I've taken tourists from 60 countries throughout the mountains."

A tour operator, shows a photo of the same "soviet jeep" he currently drives cause in the river before the new 2006 road was opened. He said he took his first foreigner on an adventure tour a decade ago. "I was so happy I asked for his autograph," he said, "Since then I've taken tourists from 60 countries throughout the mountains."

 Inside a yailak in Xinaliq – a summer residence for shepherds.

Inside a yailak in Xinaliq – a summer residence for shepherds.

Taxi drivers on the Azerbaijan/Georgia border crossing enjoy the
Taxi drivers on the Azerbaijan/Georgia border crossing enjoy the

Taxi drivers on the Azerbaijan/Georgia border crossing enjoy the shade of their "taxi stand."

Molokans
Molokans

Two of the dozen or so Molokans left in the Azerbaijani village of Gezmeydan, which was almost entirely populated by this Russian borne religious sect as recently as ten years ago.

Tea Time
Tea Time

Molokan women drinking tea in their prayer room during a funeral in the village of Kirovka, Azerbaijan.

 A lively example the famous breed of Karabakh horses presented by the man who rescued the breed during the shelling of Agdam during the Azerbaijan-Armenian war of the early 1990s.

A lively example the famous breed of Karabakh horses presented by the man who rescued the breed during the shelling of Agdam during the Azerbaijan-Armenian war of the early 1990s.

 Women on the patio of their flood ravaged home in the village of Sabirabad, Azerbaijan.

Women on the patio of their flood ravaged home in the village of Sabirabad, Azerbaijan.

 An ancient "Albanian" temple a few kilometers from the northern Azerbaijani city of Sheki, now used as a barn by the villagers.

An ancient "Albanian" temple a few kilometers from the northern Azerbaijani city of Sheki, now used as a barn by the villagers.

 A child learns the traditional dances that are one of the main activities at most Caucasus weddings. Take in the small mountain village of Kish in the north of Azerbaijan.

A child learns the traditional dances that are one of the main activities at most Caucasus weddings. Take in the small mountain village of Kish in the north of Azerbaijan.

 The glass ceiling of a pir in the small village of Pensar in the south of Azerbaijan.

The glass ceiling of a pir in the small village of Pensar in the south of Azerbaijan.

 A rural taxi on the road to the village of Lahij, Azerbaijan.

A rural taxi on the road to the village of Lahij, Azerbaijan.

 Guliser Memmedova, her daughters and grandchildren continue to occupy a derelict hut in the Urajaly village. Well over a year after the floods, they share this dilapidated one-room shack.

Guliser Memmedova, her daughters and grandchildren continue to occupy a derelict hut in the Urajaly village. Well over a year after the floods, they share this dilapidated one-room shack.

 Another rescue dog going for a run around the property of the temporary shelter. All the dogs awaiting owners are kept in a large fenced area and given time to run around the large enclosure.

Another rescue dog going for a run around the property of the temporary shelter. All the dogs awaiting owners are kept in a large fenced area and given time to run around the large enclosure.

 Books in a derelict synagogue in the village of Krasnaya Sloboda, a Jewish village near Quba, Azerbaijan.

Books in a derelict synagogue in the village of Krasnaya Sloboda, a Jewish village near Quba, Azerbaijan.

 Another pir in Pensar, this one run by a female Imam.

Another pir in Pensar, this one run by a female Imam.

 Father of the bride.

Father of the bride.

Sex Ed
Sex Ed

Exactly what you think.

DSC_1366.jpg
 The capital Baku - a brightly lit city full of wide boulevards and European architectural, and oil donkeys just off shore.
 The graffitied wall of a school in Baku showing the hodgepodge of lingual and cultural influences in Azerbaijan.
 Block by block facelifts ensure large portions of downtown Baku is under construction at any given time.
 A bucket of tar warming over a flame in a recently demolished block near downtown Baku. Entire sections of the city are being cleared to feed the real estate demands of the recent oil and gas boom.
 Block by block facelifts and new skyscrapers are under construction all over the city.
 The soon to be finished Flame Towers - just another example of the glisty new architecture that has sprouted out of the capital Baku during Azerbaijan's 21st century oil and gas boom.
 A cemetery with a view of the entire capital. The graves are for the victims of Black January (when Soviet troops opened fire in Baku in January 1990) and the Armenia-Azerbaijan war that followed for the first half of that tumultuous decade.
 From a tank cemetery just outside Baku. [For more info, see Tank Cemetery entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]
 From a tank cemetery just outside Baku. [For more info, see Tank Cemetery entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]
 Tanks en route to the cease fire line.
Inside the old school house in the town of Barda, where some of
 One of the countless monuments to Heydar Aliyev, this one in front of the country's central bank. Heydar was a member of the Soviet Union's leadership before reemerging as the absolute leader of Azerbaijan during the tumulteous period of indepedence and war in the early 1990's. He is widely credited with creating both the stability and the monopoly on political power exhibited by the government of his son - and current president - Ilham Aliyev.
 Heydar Aliyev, the former president of Azerbaijan, would have turned 88 years old on May 10, 2011. Thousands of flowers from 50 countries covered the park between the Heydar Aliyev Palace and the statue of Heydar Aliyev as two hot air balloons were inflated in front of the giant flower mosaic of Heydar Aliyev (pictured here), ensuring that his unmistakable Kremlin-Mona-Lisa smile would soar above the city already covered by his portraits.
Strongman
Fountain Square
 Journalists recording a show of force by the government on a day of protests organized by the opposition in Baku, Azerbaijan.
 Every week AG Bank had the front page ad on the English language AzerNews. Their motto: "You are right to be rich."
 A portrait of a Baku-based entertainment reporter for news.az on the overnight train to Tbilisi.
 One of many people detained by Azerbaijani police during a recent protest rally that showed the weak state of both the opposition and free speech in Azerbaijan. While journalists were relatively free to document the arrests, a simple utterance of "freedom" or even no reason at all was sufficient for the police to forcefully seize and detain dozens of people.
 Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, an activist and blogger was given a copy of Franz Kafka's "The Trial" at his own trial. He was sentenced to prison for a year for  evading military services. His conviction and detention have been protested by many human rights groups.
 An outdoor restuarant in an orchard off the highway to Baku.
 A Baku resident in one of the capital's remaining turn of the century architectural areas.
 Murals adorn the Baku metro
DSC_1366.jpg
 Home repair in Xinaliq, Azerbaijan
 Xinaliq village, Azerbaijan
 Xinaliq village, Azerbaijan
 Xinaliq village, Azerbaijan
 A flock of sheep on their way back to Xinaliq after a winter in the lowlands.
 Children in Xinaliq shooing their livestock back from the hills and into their stone barns for the night.
 The government has been paying all the working-age men in Xinaliq to repair their village and turn it into a tourist attraction. This  has stemmed the flow of youth to the cities.
 Sheep and railroad - my favorite combination.
 Qobustan mud volcanoes. [For more info, see the Mud Volcanoes entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]
DSC_1072.jpg
 A woman in a chador walks along the streets of Nardaran, with the country's largest pir in the background.
Flood Victims
 One of the few remaining Karabagh horses - a breed that was almost extinguished during the Azerbaijan-Armenian war in the 1990's.
Rural Store
 A villager from Kish, wearing a traditional Caucasian hat at a wedding.
 A resident of a small village near Sabirabad, with his flood ravaged home behind him.
 Mehman Ahmedli, a lifelong meykhana poet who runs the Ahmedli (a settlement of Baku outside the main city) school, practicing the rhythmic improvisations with his students. [For more info, see Meykhana entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]
 A resident of a small village near Sabirabad. He walks with a limp after he said police beat him when he protested the uneven distribution of relief after the flood.
Home Improvement
Two Molokan Farmers
Farmers
Molokan Kitchen
Funeral
 Molokan priest, who every calls "Pope." Molokans were expelled from Tsarist Russia for their austere beliefs.
 Inside the Bibi Hibat Pir outside Baku, rebuilt in the 1990s. [For more info, see pirs entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]
 Inside the Bibi Hibat Pir outside Baku, rebuilt in the 1990s.
Toad
 Long before there was an Azerbaijan, an Armenia, a Georgia, a Russia, a Persia – before any of that there were the Gobustan petroglyphs.  [For more info, see the Mud Volcanoes entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]
 A blind tea house owner in Sheki, Azerbaijan.
 The pir of Sheik Ehmed and Mullah Mustafa in Bash Shabalid, a village at the base of the Greater Caucasus Mountains.
 A freshly killed sheep is sold in the Bash Shabalid village.
 A beekeeper and farmer in Bash Shabalid, a village at the base of the Greater Caucasus Mountains.
 A busy market in Lenkeran, a city near Azerbaijan's southern border with Iran.
 A girl touches a holy scroll covered in the names of Allah and the twelve Imams of Shiite Islam in Pensar, a small village in the south Azerbaijan, near the Iranian border.
 Even in the far off village of Pensar in southern Azerbaijan, the pir contain a picture of Mir Movsum Aga, the "bone less" or "meat" holy man from the Absheron peninsula.
 Apples in a busy market in Lenkeran, a city near Azerbaijan's southern border with Iran.
 Leyla Akhundova bring the rescued puppies to the temporary shelter in Mashtaga.
 Dog bites cover the arms of one Alliance volunteer who has the most experience as a dog catcher.
 Sheep heading out to their grazing areas in the village of Lahij, Azerbaijan.
 A blacksmith making traditional iron goods in Lerik, Azerbaijan.
 The weekly livestock market fills up by sunrise in the largerly rural region of Sabirabad.
 The weekly livestock market fills up by sunrise in the largerly rural region of Sabirabad.
 Many say life has returned to normal since the floods in Gazembeyli, one of the hardest hit villages.
 A lamb in a bag! (near Xinaliq, Azerbaijan)
 Elderly woman and child in Xinaliq, Azerbaijan.
 A lamb in Xinaliq.
 A tour operator, shows a photo of the same "soviet jeep" he currently drives cause in the river before the new 2006 road was opened. He said he took his first foreigner on an adventure tour a decade ago. "I was so happy I asked for his autograph," he said, "Since then I've taken tourists from 60 countries throughout the mountains."
 Inside a yailak in Xinaliq – a summer residence for shepherds.
Taxi drivers on the Azerbaijan/Georgia border crossing enjoy the
Molokans
Tea Time
 A lively example the famous breed of Karabakh horses presented by the man who rescued the breed during the shelling of Agdam during the Azerbaijan-Armenian war of the early 1990s.
 Women on the patio of their flood ravaged home in the village of Sabirabad, Azerbaijan.
 An ancient "Albanian" temple a few kilometers from the northern Azerbaijani city of Sheki, now used as a barn by the villagers.
 A child learns the traditional dances that are one of the main activities at most Caucasus weddings. Take in the small mountain village of Kish in the north of Azerbaijan.
 The glass ceiling of a pir in the small village of Pensar in the south of Azerbaijan.
 A rural taxi on the road to the village of Lahij, Azerbaijan.
 Guliser Memmedova, her daughters and grandchildren continue to occupy a derelict hut in the Urajaly village. Well over a year after the floods, they share this dilapidated one-room shack.
 Another rescue dog going for a run around the property of the temporary shelter. All the dogs awaiting owners are kept in a large fenced area and given time to run around the large enclosure.
 Books in a derelict synagogue in the village of Krasnaya Sloboda, a Jewish village near Quba, Azerbaijan.
 Another pir in Pensar, this one run by a female Imam.
 Father of the bride.
Sex Ed
DSC_1366.jpg

The capital Baku - a brightly lit city full of wide boulevards and European architectural, and oil donkeys just off shore.

The graffitied wall of a school in Baku showing the hodgepodge of lingual and cultural influences in Azerbaijan.

Block by block facelifts ensure large portions of downtown Baku is under construction at any given time.

A bucket of tar warming over a flame in a recently demolished block near downtown Baku. Entire sections of the city are being cleared to feed the real estate demands of the recent oil and gas boom.

Block by block facelifts and new skyscrapers are under construction all over the city.

The soon to be finished Flame Towers - just another example of the glisty new architecture that has sprouted out of the capital Baku during Azerbaijan's 21st century oil and gas boom.

A cemetery with a view of the entire capital. The graves are for the victims of Black January (when Soviet troops opened fire in Baku in January 1990) and the Armenia-Azerbaijan war that followed for the first half of that tumultuous decade.

From a tank cemetery just outside Baku. [For more info, see Tank Cemetery entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

From a tank cemetery just outside Baku. [For more info, see Tank Cemetery entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

Tanks en route to the cease fire line.

Inside the old school house in the town of Barda, where some of

Inside the old school house in the town of Barda, where some of Azerbaijan's internally displaced families go about domestic tasks alongside the two schools that exist inside the same building. Azerbaijan has the world's largest percentage of interally displaced people, with roughly one out of nine people displaced by the war in the early 1990s with Armenia.

One of the countless monuments to Heydar Aliyev, this one in front of the country's central bank. Heydar was a member of the Soviet Union's leadership before reemerging as the absolute leader of Azerbaijan during the tumulteous period of indepedence and war in the early 1990's. He is widely credited with creating both the stability and the monopoly on political power exhibited by the government of his son - and current president - Ilham Aliyev.

Heydar Aliyev, the former president of Azerbaijan, would have turned 88 years old on May 10, 2011. Thousands of flowers from 50 countries covered the park between the Heydar Aliyev Palace and the statue of Heydar Aliyev as two hot air balloons were inflated in front of the giant flower mosaic of Heydar Aliyev (pictured here), ensuring that his unmistakable Kremlin-Mona-Lisa smile would soar above the city already covered by his portraits.

Strongman

Hot air balloons being inflated in Baku to celebrate Flower Day and the 88th birthday of nation's deceased and revered strongman Heydar Aliyev.

Fountain Square

Baku's fountain square, which after a recent renovation is filled with gushing fountains, water shows on the boulevard along the Caspian coast and slippery, shining marble underfoot. A fitting symbol for the recent wealthy of a priviledged section of Azerbaijan society. Spending in infrastructure lags behind though, as one friend remarked "fountains don't keep you warm in the winter."

Journalists recording a show of force by the government on a day of protests organized by the opposition in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Every week AG Bank had the front page ad on the English language AzerNews. Their motto: "You are right to be rich."

A portrait of a Baku-based entertainment reporter for news.az on the overnight train to Tbilisi.

One of many people detained by Azerbaijani police during a recent protest rally that showed the weak state of both the opposition and free speech in Azerbaijan. While journalists were relatively free to document the arrests, a simple utterance of "freedom" or even no reason at all was sufficient for the police to forcefully seize and detain dozens of people.

Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, an activist and blogger was given a copy of Franz Kafka's "The Trial" at his own trial. He was sentenced to prison for a year for evading military services. His conviction and detention have been protested by many human rights groups.

An outdoor restuarant in an orchard off the highway to Baku.

A Baku resident in one of the capital's remaining turn of the century architectural areas.

Murals adorn the Baku metro

Home repair in Xinaliq, Azerbaijan

Xinaliq village, Azerbaijan

Xinaliq village, Azerbaijan

Xinaliq village, Azerbaijan

A flock of sheep on their way back to Xinaliq after a winter in the lowlands.

Children in Xinaliq shooing their livestock back from the hills and into their stone barns for the night.

The government has been paying all the working-age men in Xinaliq to repair their village and turn it into a tourist attraction. This has stemmed the flow of youth to the cities.

Sheep and railroad - my favorite combination.

Qobustan mud volcanoes. [For more info, see the Mud Volcanoes entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

A woman in a chador walks along the streets of Nardaran, with the country's largest pir in the background.

Flood Victims

Flood victims waiting at regional executive authority for aid before the winter months. The flooding of the Araz and Kura river destroyed thousands of homes and livelihoods in April and May of 2010.

One of the few remaining Karabagh horses - a breed that was almost extinguished during the Azerbaijan-Armenian war in the 1990's.

Rural Store

A rural store operates out of the back of a van in this mountain village near Sheki in northern Azerbaijan.

A villager from Kish, wearing a traditional Caucasian hat at a wedding.

A resident of a small village near Sabirabad, with his flood ravaged home behind him.

Mehman Ahmedli, a lifelong meykhana poet who runs the Ahmedli (a settlement of Baku outside the main city) school, practicing the rhythmic improvisations with his students. [For more info, see Meykhana entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

A resident of a small village near Sabirabad. He walks with a limp after he said police beat him when he protested the uneven distribution of relief after the flood.

Home Improvement

An old man repairs a farming impliment with an improvised torch: a rod electrified by a car battery.

Two Molokan Farmers

Subsistence farming is main the source of food and income in most of qrural Azerbaijan.

Farmers

Oleg piles hay for his Azeri neighbor. This is a typical temporary, low paying job available to young people in Kirovka.

Molokan Kitchen

Molokan women inside the prayer room prepare the traditional lapsha, which will be cut into thin noodles and served in a broth at the funeral service.

Funeral

Molokan from the villages of Kirovka and Chukhuyurd gather to bury Ivan Varonin at the cemetery between the two villages.

Molokan priest, who every calls "Pope." Molokans were expelled from Tsarist Russia for their austere beliefs.

Inside the Bibi Hibat Pir outside Baku, rebuilt in the 1990s. [For more info, see pirs entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

Inside the Bibi Hibat Pir outside Baku, rebuilt in the 1990s.

Toad

A toad in the fields around the village of Kirovka.

Long before there was an Azerbaijan, an Armenia, a Georgia, a Russia, a Persia – before any of that there were the Gobustan petroglyphs. [For more info, see the Mud Volcanoes entry at vladicravich.wordpress.com]

A blind tea house owner in Sheki, Azerbaijan.

The pir of Sheik Ehmed and Mullah Mustafa in Bash Shabalid, a village at the base of the Greater Caucasus Mountains.

A freshly killed sheep is sold in the Bash Shabalid village.

A beekeeper and farmer in Bash Shabalid, a village at the base of the Greater Caucasus Mountains.

A busy market in Lenkeran, a city near Azerbaijan's southern border with Iran.

A girl touches a holy scroll covered in the names of Allah and the twelve Imams of Shiite Islam in Pensar, a small village in the south Azerbaijan, near the Iranian border.

Even in the far off village of Pensar in southern Azerbaijan, the pir contain a picture of Mir Movsum Aga, the "bone less" or "meat" holy man from the Absheron peninsula.

Apples in a busy market in Lenkeran, a city near Azerbaijan's southern border with Iran.

Leyla Akhundova bring the rescued puppies to the temporary shelter in Mashtaga.

Dog bites cover the arms of one Alliance volunteer who has the most experience as a dog catcher.

Sheep heading out to their grazing areas in the village of Lahij, Azerbaijan.

A blacksmith making traditional iron goods in Lerik, Azerbaijan.

The weekly livestock market fills up by sunrise in the largerly rural region of Sabirabad.

The weekly livestock market fills up by sunrise in the largerly rural region of Sabirabad.

Many say life has returned to normal since the floods in Gazembeyli, one of the hardest hit villages.

A lamb in a bag! (near Xinaliq, Azerbaijan)

Elderly woman and child in Xinaliq, Azerbaijan.

A lamb in Xinaliq.

A tour operator, shows a photo of the same "soviet jeep" he currently drives cause in the river before the new 2006 road was opened. He said he took his first foreigner on an adventure tour a decade ago. "I was so happy I asked for his autograph," he said, "Since then I've taken tourists from 60 countries throughout the mountains."

Inside a yailak in Xinaliq – a summer residence for shepherds.

Taxi drivers on the Azerbaijan/Georgia border crossing enjoy the

Taxi drivers on the Azerbaijan/Georgia border crossing enjoy the shade of their "taxi stand."

Molokans

Two of the dozen or so Molokans left in the Azerbaijani village of Gezmeydan, which was almost entirely populated by this Russian borne religious sect as recently as ten years ago.

Tea Time

Molokan women drinking tea in their prayer room during a funeral in the village of Kirovka, Azerbaijan.

A lively example the famous breed of Karabakh horses presented by the man who rescued the breed during the shelling of Agdam during the Azerbaijan-Armenian war of the early 1990s.

Women on the patio of their flood ravaged home in the village of Sabirabad, Azerbaijan.

An ancient "Albanian" temple a few kilometers from the northern Azerbaijani city of Sheki, now used as a barn by the villagers.

A child learns the traditional dances that are one of the main activities at most Caucasus weddings. Take in the small mountain village of Kish in the north of Azerbaijan.

The glass ceiling of a pir in the small village of Pensar in the south of Azerbaijan.

A rural taxi on the road to the village of Lahij, Azerbaijan.

Guliser Memmedova, her daughters and grandchildren continue to occupy a derelict hut in the Urajaly village. Well over a year after the floods, they share this dilapidated one-room shack.

Another rescue dog going for a run around the property of the temporary shelter. All the dogs awaiting owners are kept in a large fenced area and given time to run around the large enclosure.

Books in a derelict synagogue in the village of Krasnaya Sloboda, a Jewish village near Quba, Azerbaijan.

Another pir in Pensar, this one run by a female Imam.

Father of the bride.

Sex Ed

Exactly what you think.

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