Chinalig, Azerbaijan

The Village at the Top of Azerbaijan

An Azeri Village
Azerbaijan flag waving in the wind over a wall of Khinalig.
Houses Still not Snowed
Khinalig houses, still spared by the snows that hit the highlands of the Caucasus.
home hygiene
Footwear at the door, the first guarantee of hygiene in the home.
Solidary herd
Sheep flock to the intrusion of a stranger.
the clothesline
Bright clothing ripples in the frigid Caucasus wind.
From the Blues Balcony
A farewell to outsiders from an ornate window in the village.
Family Ties
Badalov family poses in a colorful corner of their house in Khinalig.
The Municipality Eagle
Monument marks the beginning of Xhinalig territory.
The table
Monument marks the beginning of Xhinalig territory.
turkeys in a row
Turkey duo with the Caucasus Mountains as a majestic background.
Idris and the Ladas
Idris guide and driver installed on his Lada Niva.
Highlighted Khinalig
Khinalig (Xinalig) houses lit by a natural spot of sunlight.
A Stranded Relic
Two other complicated repair cases, among several from Khinalig.
small cemetery
Tombstones clustered a short distance from the Khinalig housing nucleus.
A UAZ relic
Children have fun around a UAZ all-terrain Soviet relic.
An Islam Village
A window ornament signals the Islamic faith of almost the entire village of Khinalig.
The Village Road
Old Lada wins one of the rocky roads that run through Khinalig.
the river road
Winding track still in lowlands, but on its way to the more than 2000 meters altitude of Khinalig.
The Mountain Road
Lada on a straight line between poles and that seems to come from the highest mountains of the Caucasus.
Family Ties II
Part of the Badalov family at the entrance to their home.
Set in the rugged, icy 2300 meters of the Great Caucasus, the Khinalig people are just one of several minorities in the region. It has remained isolated for millennia. Until, in 2006, a road made it accessible to the old Soviet Ladas.

The bus trip from Baku was little more than a geographic and sleep adjustment.

Gifted with two seats over the engine, heated to match, the unexpected and early-rising warmth quickly leaves us sedated.

We fall asleep shortly after leaving the Azeri capital. We only wake up at about eleven in the morning, with the bus checking in at Quba station.

There, Elkham and Idris greet us. Elkham, the small tourism entrepreneur, helps us exchange a few more dollars for manats.

Once the payment of what we owe him is completed, he hands us over to Idris, the driver and guide, who immediately tells us that the only foreign language he speaks is Russian.

More by gestures than anything else, Idris invites us to follow him and board the jeep in which we were supposed to carry out the trip. In a land still of Ladas, we realize that he was proud of his.

A Niva. Jeep instead of any Lada. “Niva!!” emphasizes Idris, with enthusiasm, the quality and extra safety of the model.

Above Caucasus Towards the High Khinalig

We leave. At first, we make our way along Quba's extended houses. A little later, along the ridges and meanders of a slender road that emulate those of the Qudyal Çay River.

We leave a village called Qimil-qazma behind. The road we follow becomes the Xinaliqolu. Xinaliq, the final destination also treated by Khinalig, Khynalyk, Khanalyk, Kinalugh, Khanaluka, among others, was just over 30km away.

An hour almost always on the way up that, for contemplative and photographic imperatives and not only, we'd do in twice the time.

The opening stop, we make it at the entrance to a canyon, where the road snaked along the base of a deep cliff, steeply sloping over the river and over huge rocks dumped by landslides.

Ladas and Mais Ladas also in the Municipality of Khinaliq

We appreciate the tight scenery, measure it by the scale of the traffic that ran through it, of Ladas and only Ladas. Idris takes the opportunity to smoke another cigarette in a hurry. After which we continue.

It's the end of November and the snows are late. We climb, thus, much more firmly than we expected, based on 4×4 traction and on the car's almost bald tires.

Along the way, we pass several other Ladas, almost always the more iconic but modest 2106 or 2101 models, leaning against the curb with mechanical problems.

We reach some intermediate summit from which a monument rises up It signals the Xinalig Municipality and it's crowned by an eagle with almost vertical wings that point the blue sky.

Idris signals to us that he is going to pull over again: “photo, cigarette!”, he explains.

He stops a short distance from an old Lada 2106 taxi, massacred by the brutal slopes and to which the driver adds oil or water.

While the elderly taxi driver took care of the missing fluid, we were joined by other visitors to the region. The younger ones insisted on going up to the eagle's stone and brick landing and photographing themselves in its company.

The taxi driver solves the mechanical problem and resumes trip. We follow him.

The Caucasus Mountains Announcing the Village

We travel up and down new mountains and valleys, between the heights on both sides of the road, over ravines ever more chilling and along straight lines that crisscross a hard, ocher earth.

Which pointed to summits above 3500m, loaded with snow, the Quizilkaya (3726m) and the Tufandag (4191m).

We climbed so much, we stopped so much that we end up arriving.

We see the Khinalig's houses perched on a hill, surrounded by slopes and peaks painted with resistant snow.

At that time, the configuration of the relief and the position of the clouds combined to give the village a luminous stardom.

Its smoothed and stacked stone homes gleamed, the tin roofs stood out from the darkened surroundings. Idris parks in front of one of these homes, under the inquisitive snarl of neighboring cows and sheep, released from their corrals.

A middle-aged man welcomes us. Idris introduces us to Orxen.

The Dedicated Welcoming of the Badalov Family

Orxen takes us inside the house where we would stayinvites us to living room table.

He serves us Turkish tea, the black kind but served reddish, from a flowery ceramic teapot to tiny glass cups.

Like Idris, Orxen spoke little or nothing but Azeri and Russian.

We, despite having promised time and time again that we would learn Russian, continued to master only five or six words.

At the time, with the hunger we all shared, those five words seemed to multiply, as happened with the platters, plates and small plates, the vehicles for the successive Azerbaijani snacks.

Tasked with welcoming us, Orxen was forced to interrupt some other activity . Idris would still return to Quba.

We, could not forget the splendid photogeny with which Khinalig had received us.

And we worried that, from one moment to the next, the entire valley would be in shadow.

In this shared restlessness, we all speed up the meal. Idris and Orxen return to their lives.

We put the backpacks on our backs and we set out to discover Khinalig, with more urgency, from a point overlooking from which we could admire it and its adjustments to the setting sun, in panoramic format.

As a result of this mission, we climb a ridge of land that rose from the village's hill. We come across sheep that descend from their favorite pastures.

We walk through small stray cemeteries, signaled by carved tombstones, just slightly more yellowish than the ground.

Finally, we reach a satisfactory top. By then, the sun already yellowed the clouds.

And little by little, it warmed the look of the town.

We sit back to catch our breath and absorb the Khinalig Caucasus epic story, a past that goes back a long way.

The Thousand Year Past of the Khinalig People

Despite the altitude, archaeological studies allowed anthropologists to conclude that the area had been inhabited for around four millennia.

In a more recent era, known as Caucasian Albania, the Khinalig people, one of the minorities that make up the Shadagh ethnic group (a term derived from Mount Shadagh, 4243m) were already present.

It is estimated, in fact, that they were one of the twenty-six peoples that the traveler and Greek historian Strabo mentioned in his “Geography”.

Isolated by mountains, the Khinakig formed a culture that, like the dialect they continue to use, is unique.

At the same time, they also developed a physical profile that has become characteristic: medium-short and bulky bodies, brown hair, blue eyes, or brown.

It darkens.

We walk down to the village, here and there, followed and provoked for photographic games by kids, one of them we would discover, shortly afterwards, was the youngest member of the family who was going to welcome us.

We take refuge from the growing cold, drinking tea in a café-grocery store. There, we realize how much the locals disputed the visitors.

The owner of the grocery immediately informs us that he can host us in his place.

When we retort that we already have it sorted out, he asks where, how much we're paying, and other questions.

We were still satisfying his curiosity when we receive an SMS from Elkham.

Hijalaba Badalov, a Proud Host

The message tells us that Mr. Hijalaba Badalov, the head of the family, was upset that it was night and he didn't know about us. Worried by his anxiety, we improvise a fast return home.

Back to the home, we are welcomed by Mr. Hijalab wife. She invites us to the living room table, already warmed by a stove that burned cow dung, to the ambient sound of a huge TV screen.

The table was set, with bread, starters, meat soup, tea and others, Mr. Hijalab show up.

Khinalig or not, he has the profile expected of an inhabitant of Khinalig, the pale blue eyes, not the brown ones.

The host spoke two dialects, apart from Russian and Azeri. None of the four were useful to us. We are again faced with a language barrier similar to the one of lunchtime.

Hijalaba felt, however, a strong duty to integrate us. He was, moreover, the proud patriarch of a large family, used to welcoming outsiders.

Throughout dinner, using the same five or six Russian terms, we are surprised by the fruitfulness of the interaction.

Hijalaba tells us that he had brothers living in Siberia, that, despite the 4.000 km away, he had already gone to visit them by car, we imagine that in a Lada. In a time other than his Soviet military service, spent in the Novozibirsk freezing cold.

We finish the meal. Badalov goes into cicerone mode.

He reveal us his favorite corners of the house. A lighted showcase-museum with an Azeri flag, full of old banknotes and coins, medals, stone relics.

A collection of weapons, shotguns, rifles, swords, sabers and alikes, hung in a wall corner.

Next to the L-shape ladder that connected the two floors, he shows us a painting of a summer Khinalig, with the surrounding mountains in different shades of green.

Hijalaba Badalov tells us that the painting is his work, but that he painted just for entertainment, that he didn't it give much value.

The Starry Night Spent at Badalov House

The time come for us to leave Hijalaba to his peace. To deliver him to the TV that he loved to watch, especially animal documentaries and, with unusual interest, episodes of Inspector Gadget, one after another.

Thanks to the Sputnik satellites, the family's various TVs picked up hundreds of channels. The only drawback: the Badalovs had to move the antenna too often.

We move from the living room to the bedroom. By comparison, it's icy cold. We sleep straight through until two in the morning, when the excess tea at dinner forces us to go to the bathroom.

It was outside. The whole house, not the bedroom. In an exterior of some random freezing minus degrees.

To compensate, as a roof, it had the celestial vault, as we saw it from those heights of the caucasus, bursting with stars.

Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.

The Cradle of the Official Christianity

Just 268 years after Jesus' death, a nation will have become the first to accept the Christian faith by royal decree. This nation still preserves its own Apostolic Church and some of the oldest Christian temples in the world. Traveling through the Caucasus, we visit them in the footsteps of Gregory the Illuminator, the patriarch who inspires Armenia's spiritual life.
Alaverdi, Armenia

A Cable Car Called Ensejo

The top of the Debed River Gorge hides the Armenian monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat and terraced Soviet apartment blocks. Its bottom houses the copper mine and smelter that sustains the city. Connecting these two worlds is a providential suspended cabin in which the people of Alaverdi count on traveling in the company of God.
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
lake sevan, Armenia

The Bittersweet Caucasus Lake

Enclosed between mountains at 1900 meters high, considered a natural and historical treasure of Armenia, Lake Sevan has never been treated as such. The level and quality of its water has deteriorated for decades and a recent invasion of algae drains the life that subsists in it.
Upplistsikhe e Gori, Georgia

From the Cradle of Georgia to Stalin's Childhood

In the discovery of the Caucasus, we explore Uplistsikhe, a troglodyte city that preceded Georgia. And just 10km away, in Gori, we find the place of the troubled childhood of Joseb Jughashvili, who would become the most famous and tyrant of Soviet leaders.
Kazbegi, Georgia

God in the Caucasus Heights

In the 4000th century, Orthodox religious took their inspiration from a hermitage that a monk had erected at an altitude of 5047 m and perched a church between the summit of Mount Kazbek (XNUMXm) and the village at the foot. More and more visitors flock to these mystical stops on the edge of Russia. Like them, to get there, we submit to the whims of the reckless Georgia Military Road.
Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgia still Perfumed by the Rose Revolution

In 2003, a popular political uprising made the sphere of power in Georgia tilt from East to West. Since then, the capital Tbilisi has not renounced its centuries of Soviet history, nor the revolutionary assumption of integrating into Europe. When we visit, we are dazzled by the fascinating mix of their past lives.
Rhinoceros, PN Kaziranga, Assam, India
PN Kaziranga, India

The Indian Monoceros Stronghold

Situated in the state of Assam, south of the great Brahmaputra river, PN Kaziranga occupies a vast area of ​​alluvial swamp. Two-thirds of the rhinocerus unicornis around the world, there are around 100 tigers, 1200 elephants and many other animals. Pressured by human proximity and the inevitable poaching, this precious park has not been able to protect itself from the hyperbolic floods of the monsoons and from some controversies.
Hikers on the Ice Lake Trail, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 7th - Braga - Ice Lake, Nepal

Annapurna Circuit – The Painful Acclimatization of the Ice Lake

On the way up to the Ghyaru village, we had a first and unexpected show of how ecstatic the Annapurna Circuit can be tasted. Nine kilometers later, in Braga, due to the need to acclimatize, we climbed from 3.470m from Braga to 4.600m from Lake Kicho Tal. We only felt some expected tiredness and the increase in the wonder of the Annapurna Mountains.
shadow vs light
Architecture & Design
Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Temple Reborn from the Ashes

The Golden Pavilion has been spared destruction several times throughout history, including that of US-dropped bombs, but it did not withstand the mental disturbance of Hayashi Yoken. When we admired him, he looked like never before.
The small lighthouse at Kallur, highlighted in the capricious northern relief of the island of Kalsoy.
Kalsoy, Faroe Islands

A Lighthouse at the End of the Faroese World

Kalsoy is one of the most isolated islands in the Faroe archipelago. Also known as “the flute” due to its long shape and the many tunnels that serve it, a mere 75 inhabitants inhabit it. Much less than the outsiders who visit it every year, attracted by the boreal wonder of its Kallur lighthouse.
Dragon Dance, Moon Festival, Chinatown-San Francisco-United States of America
Ceremonies and Festivities
San Francisco, USA

with the head on the moon

September comes and Chinese people around the world celebrate harvests, abundance and unity. San Francisco's enormous Sino-Community gives itself body and soul to California's biggest Moon Festival.
Detail of the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati, Assam, India.
Guwahati, India

The City that Worships Kamakhya and the Fertility

Guwahati is the largest city in the state of Assam and in North East India. It is also one of the fastest growing in the world. For Hindus and devout believers in Tantra, it will be no coincidence that Kamakhya, the mother goddess of creation, is worshiped there.
Fogón de Lola, great food, Costa Rica, Guápiles
Fogón de Lola Costa Rica

The Flavor of Costa Rica of El Fogón de Lola

As the name suggests, the Fogón de Lola de Guapiles serves dishes prepared on the stove and in the oven, according to Costa Rican family tradition. In particular, Tia Lola's.
Bolshoi Zayatski Orthodox Church, Solovetsky Islands, Russia.
Bolshoi Zayatsky, Russia

Mysterious Russian Babylons

A set of prehistoric spiral labyrinths made of stones decorate Bolshoi Zayatsky Island, part of the Solovetsky archipelago. Devoid of explanations as to when they were erected or what it meant, the inhabitants of these northern reaches of Europe call them vavilons.
combat arbiter, cockfighting, philippines

When Only Cock Fights Wake Up the Philippines

Banned in much of the First World, cockfighting thrives in the Philippines where they move millions of people and pesos. Despite its eternal problems, it is the sabong that most stimulates the nation.
Aswan, Egypt, Nile River meets Black Africa, Elephantine Island
Aswan, Egypt

Where the Nile Welcomes the Black Africa

1200km upstream of its delta, the Nile is no longer navigable. The last of the great Egyptian cities marks the fusion between Arab and Nubian territory. Since its origins in Lake Victoria, the river has given life to countless African peoples with dark complexions.
Nelson to Wharariki, Abel Tasman NP, New Zealand

The Maori coastline on which Europeans landed

Abel Janszoon Tasman explored more of the newly mapped and mythical "Terra australis" when a mistake soured the contact with natives of an unknown island. The episode inaugurated the colonial history of the New Zealand. Today, both the divine coast on which the episode took place and the surrounding seas evoke the Dutch navigator.
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

life outside

Maori Haka, Waitangi Treaty Grounds, New Zealand
bay of islands, New Zealand

New Zealand's Civilization Core

Waitangi is the key place for independence and the long-standing coexistence of native Maori and British settlers. In the surrounding Bay of Islands, the idyllic marine beauty of the New Zealand antipodes is celebrated, but also the complex and fascinating kiwi nation.
Camiguin, Philippines, Katungan mangrove.
Camiguin, Philippines

An Island of Fire Surrended to Water

With more than twenty cones above 100 meters, the abrupt and lush, Camiguin has the highest concentration of volcanoes of any other of the 7641 islands in the Philippines or on the planet. But, in recent times, not even the fact that one of these volcanoes is active has disturbed the peace of its rural, fishing and, to the delight of outsiders, heavily bathed life.
coast, fjord, Seydisfjordur, Iceland
Winter White
Seydisfjordur, Iceland

From the Art of Fishing to the Fishing of Art

When shipowners from Reykjavik bought the Seydisfjordur fishing fleet, the village had to adapt. Today, it captures Dieter Roth's art disciples and other bohemian and creative souls.
Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
Faithful light candles, Milarepa Grotto temple, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna Circuit: 9th Manang to Milarepa Cave, Nepal

A Walk between Acclimatization and Pilgrimage

In full Annapurna Circuit, we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). we still need acclimatize to the higher stretches that followed, we inaugurated an equally spiritual journey to a Nepalese cave of Milarepa (4000m), the refuge of a siddha (sage) and Buddhist saint.
Terraces of Sistelo, Serra do Soajo, Arcos de Valdevez, Minho, Portugal
Natural Parks
Sistelo, Peneda-Gerês, Portugal

From the “Little Portuguese Tibet” to the Corn Fortresses

We leave the cliffs of Srª da Peneda, heading for Arcos de ValdeVez and the villages that an erroneous imaginary dubbed Little Portuguese Tibet. From these terraced villages, we pass by others famous for guarding, as golden and sacred treasures, the ears they harvest. Whimsical, the route reveals the resplendent nature and green fertility of these lands in Peneda-Gerês.
Skyway crosses Jamison Valley
UNESCO World Heritage
Katoomba, Australia

The Blue Mountains Three Sisters

Located west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains form one of the most sought-after evasion realms both by the. ozzies and foreigners. They are attracted by the natural beauty seen from Katoomba, the sharp cliffs of the Three Sisters and the waterfalls that cascade over the Jamison Valley. In the shadow of this tourist frenzy, the usual marginalization of local aboriginal origins and culture persists.
aggie gray, Samoa, South Pacific, Marlon Brando Fale
Apia, Western Samoa

The Host of the South Pacific

She sold burguês to GI's in World War II and opened a hotel that hosted Marlon Brando and Gary Cooper. Aggie Gray passed away in 2. Her legacy lives on in the South Pacific.
Unusual bathing

south of Belize

The Strange Life in the Black Caribbean Sun

On the way to Guatemala, we see how the proscribed existence of the Garifuna people, descendants of African slaves and Arawak Indians, contrasts with that of several much more airy bathing areas.

Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh, India
Tawang, India

The Mystic Valley of Deep Discord

On the northern edge of the Indian province of Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang is home to dramatic mountain scenery, ethnic Mompa villages and majestic Buddhist monasteries. Even if Chinese rivals have not passed him since 1962, Beijing look at this domain as part of your Tibet. Accordingly, religiosity and spiritualism there have long shared with a strong militarism.
The Toy Train story
On Rails
Siliguri a Darjeeling, India

The Himalayan Toy Train Still Running

Neither the steep slope of some stretches nor the modernity stop it. From Siliguri, in the tropical foothills of the great Asian mountain range, the Darjeeling, with its peaks in sight, the most famous of the Indian Toy Trains has ensured for 117 years, day after day, an arduous dream journey. Traveling through the area, we climb aboard and let ourselves be enchanted.
cozy Vegas
Las Vegas, USA

World Capital of Weddings vs Sin City

The greed of the game, the lust of prostitution and the widespread ostentation are all part of Las Vegas. Like the chapels that have neither eyes nor ears and promote eccentric, quick and cheap marriages.
the projectionist
Daily life
Sainte-Luce, Martinique

The Nostalgic Projectionist

From 1954 to 1983, Gérard Pierre screened many of the famous films arriving in Martinique. 30 years after the closing of the room in which he worked, it was still difficult for this nostalgic native to change his reel.
Boat and helmsman, Cayo Los Pájaros, Los Haitises, Dominican Republic
Samaná PeninsulaLos Haitises National Park Dominican Republic

From the Samaná Peninsula to the Dominican Haitises

In the northeast corner of the Dominican Republic, where Caribbean nature still triumphs, we face an Atlantic much more vigorous than expected in these parts. There we ride on a communal basis to the famous Limón waterfall, cross the bay of Samaná and penetrate the remote and exuberant “land of the mountains” that encloses it.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.