Visiting my homeland and arriving in Baku

May 19, 2010 at 6:45 am 5 comments

I arrived in Baku nearly 30 hours after leaving New York.

As usual I was late to the airport. On the way I worried that I’d miss whatever time was set for last check-in. But when I arrived I found that there were at least 50 other passengers as late as I was (due to traffic) and that the plane was running 6 hours late! Seven annoying hours and a $12 food voucher later, I sat on the plane in the middle aisle between a middle aged anti-Semitic Russian woman and an orthodox Jew. Because Airosvit has flights to Tel Aviv, the plane was as full of people going to Israel as it was of people traveling to the ex-Soviet countries.

I didn’t sleep on this 9 hour flight to Kiev, because I cannot sleep in a sitting position. It was inevitable that I missed my connection to Baku from Kiev, since the plane was so late. After a very long wait on the passport control line in Kiev, my passport was received its official welcome to Ukraine stamp. I parted with Galya and her dad (unrelated relatives who were traveling on the plane by chance) and proceeded to find out how I could leave the airport and visit central Kiev for a few hours. After a half an hour wait at the Aerosvit customer service kiosk where I was given some semblance of a new ticket (for Baku) I stepped out of the airport and onto the sun drenched pavement of the capital of my “homeland.” It was 7:15pm.

Khreshchatik, Kiev's main st.

A 45 minute bus ride on the bus “Pilot” that cost 25 hryvnia (approx $3) I stepped out to the central train station, hub for trains to all parts of Ukraine and destinations in Russia. With assistance from a few people I found the metro and took it 3 stops to Khreshchatik, the main boulevard. Here I saw many youths, fancy clothes shops and a food bazaar.

Kiev: escalator down to metro

inside a metro... it looks old but it runs smoother than NYC subways

Back at the airport I found my way to the check-in for Baku. Seeing as I had no luggage, several people approached me to ask if I would be willing to claim some of theirs as mine since they had so much. I apologized and said no, being as I did had luggage somewhere (although I had lost my ticket and wasn’t completely sure anymore if I’d ever see it again). When my turn came the employee refused to give me my ticket because the semblance of a ticket I was given hours earlier was not what she wanted. “But I don’t have the original” I said, “I exchanged it for this…” She wanted me to go get the original, but the woman who I had given it to had been replaced by another woman at the customer service kiosk. After a few uncertain minutes and a phone call, the employee handed me my ticket.

Aerosvit from Kiev to Baku

The plane was a small one, but comfortable. I had a window seat. I got 2 hours of sleep. In Baku I took a taxi and met Peter, another fellow serving in another MFI in Azerbaijan. I’ll be staying with him for a few days until I find my own place. Peter’s apartment lacks an address. So today one of my most pressing concerns was figuring out how I’d located it again. Otherwise, it’s located quite a distance from the city center, something like Queens in comparison to NY. The apartment itself is very old and simple. It contains a ‘fortachka’ (little window on top) and no window screens. It has separate rooms for the toilet and shower/sink and when you turn on the kitchen sink the water leaks on the floor and across the kitchen.

Soviet style building in Baku's 9th district

I visited my MFI yesterday with Peter, and again today Peter was very kind to take me all the way here so I don’t get lost. Yesterday Peter and I took a tour with my MFI’s Kiva coordinator through central and old Baku…

Kiva coordinator & Kiva fellows

a view of central Baku and Caspian sea from the Maiden tower

So here I am….. 3,760 km from NYC!


Entry filed under: travel. Tags: , , , , .

What is Kiva? Bribes

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. melissa  |  May 19, 2010 at 7:19 am

    This blog is wonderful.
    I love love LOVE the press, and I love seeing what you’re experiencing!
    Great work.
    I will bookmark this page…
    Thanks for this..

  • 2. Lena  |  May 19, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Lenulya, pouchitel’naya priklyuchencheskaya istoriya. Prochel s interesom. Glavnoe – Happy End! Be well

  • 3. Kogan Leonid i Svetlana  |  May 19, 2010 at 10:18 am

    My nadeemsya, chto u tebya budet vsy v poryadke.
    Gelaem horosho porabotaty i otdochnuty.

  • 4. Lena Shuster  |  May 20, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Thank you!

  • 5. Dima  |  May 22, 2010 at 10:26 am

    lets hope Kiev airport experience was the worst you were going to have. All the best in Baku!


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