May 21, 2011

Today is the first day that Matteo and myself feel all the kilometers done so far. We are both pretty tired but need to get to Baku early, as we have no clue on how to board the “Cargo boat” to Turkmenabashi in Turkmenistan. Once arrived in Baku it took us an incredible amount of time to find the port from which the boat should depart. For anyone that wish to do the same itinerary we advise to ask directions for “Denize Vagzali” which is port in Azerbaijanis language. As soon we found our directions we were escorted to the customs and had to go pay for a ticket in a totally run down office. The price asked was astronomical and therefore we did not agree to it. It took us literally two hours before we were able to pay a more reasonable price. A good skill of negotiation is required in these countries, as it is part of the culture.

We were told to go back to the port with our tickets and documents at 11.30 PM to do the final procedures to board the boat. As  we were told that there was no food on the boat we went to the market to buy some groceries for the boat ride.

Finally at around 3.00 AM we were told we could board the boat but when we were screened from Turkmenistan immigration I was told that I could not depart because I did not have the letter of invitation from the Turkmenistan immigration office. Matteo on the other hand was fine. He had his. I told them that my letter was in their system and I was told from the Turkmenistan consulate in London that such letter was not required. They just needed to check from the office in Turkmenabashi (Arrival city of the boat) but they refused to do so. After just about 24 hours with no sleep at the customs docks I can let you imagine our state of mind for the denial of boarding the cargo boat. At 6.00 AM we check in the Araz Hotel without our motorcycles. They were confiscated by the customs Police since they were already registered outside Azerbaijan and therefore could not get back in the country. With our moral close to zero we still try to make a couple of phone calls with no success.

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