There’s always something else to do; always something else I must pay attention to; always a reason I decide not to write in here. For two months now, I’ve felt myself in the middle of a transition that drags on and on without end. I’ll sit down and sort out my thoughts once I settle down in Georgia; okay, now once I make it to Azerbaijan; okay, now once I’ve gotten to know Baku; okay, now once I finally move into an apartment here. I’m getting a little exhausted with not knowing which way is up or where I’ll be living a week from now.
I’ve been in Azerbaijan for three and a half weeks at this point, and I still haven’t found a place to live – mostly, let’s be honest, because I don’t have the time or energy to undertake an apartment search while simultaneously applying to grad schools and starting work at two MFIs at once. All of the easy-to-find apartments and agents cater to expats who work for Baku’s many oil companies, and they’re priced accordingly; finding one that fits a volunteer’s salary is rather more difficult. I did find an excellent place through personal connections last week, and I pounced on it, and I was already packing my suitcases to move in, until it was suddenly pulled out from beneath me by a building owner who didn’t want to rent to foreigners. Back to the hostel for me.
It’s all been quite frustrating. But there are plenty of positives in my situation, and I keep trying to focus on those. Right now, I am living with a friendly Azeri family in Baku’s Old Town, a fantastical tangle of sandstone alleyways and Islamic architecture with a mosque around every corner. The people cycling in and out of this hostel, the only one in the city, have been uncommonly interesting, including the German who’s riding a motorbike from Amsterdam to Dushanbe, the Norwegian couple who work in microfinance in central Azerbaijan, and the tiny Indonesian woman who spends months each year living on an Angolan oil rig as the only woman on crew. I have been adopted by a little gray and white cat who rockets up to me joyfully as soon as I get home and who’s gotten sassy enough to nudge my computer aside when I’m paying more attention to Skype than to her. And I’ve been making friends, too, both through the Baku Hash and through chance encounters.
My Kiva work here is off to a great start as well. But I think I’ll write about that some other time.