Am sitting here with a free evening after days and nights filled with events! Things are going very well here--I'm amazed at how fast timehas flown!
I had a crazy flight over through Belarus. At Gatwick, I was unfortunate enough that they weighed my two handcarry bags, so I had to pay 50 pounds in excess, but really that's not bad for all the flying I've done this summer, and they did want me to pay 170, so I was lucky. Minsk doesn't really know how to deal with transit passengers that are not Russia or Belarusian, so when I arrived and had asked several people where I should go (and they had passed the buck by telling me to wait in hopes that someone else would deal with me) I was escorted upstairs to wait by myself in the tiny departure lounge (where not another soul joined me, and not a single shop nor restaurant was open (though they weren't open when I departed a week earlier, either)! Nearing departure time I was herded through the airport because I had no visa but had to re-check-in. My handcarry was given back to me to avoid further excess baggage charges!! I then managed to somehow arrive into Azerbaijan without getting a visa, bizzarely. Wondering about it, I was told we'd worry about it the next day (as it was already 3am and we all wanted to just get to sleep). It was later sorted out, so I am not here illegally, anymore.
I like my new appartment alot, but when others complain, it's so easy to add your own woes to the pile, minor though they may be! The best thing is that I have a lovely balcony overlooking the main pedestrian street right in the middle of central downtown. It's going to cost $250 to connect to the internet, which is not so good, but that's just how it is here. I found a dialup card at the phone card shop today, but it's a bit slow!
All the new singles bar one live in town, but divided into two groups, E and W of the central fountain square. E typically have views, but W are closer to central downtown. I'm in the W. I'm interested to see what will happen as the year progresses. Everyone is quite concerned about the situation in Georgia, but I really don't think that it will have a big impact on Azerbaijan unless the pipeline is greatly affected.
Haven't even been in my classroom for more than a few seconds as we haven't had time to blink because things are happening all the time. Time is absolutely filled with workshops, meetings, and other things like getting an official BP ID card!! In the evenings we are wined and dined across town! It's a very long orientation (almost two weeks), but still haven't done heaps, so I suppose it'll be just enough. Hopefully we'll open a bank account tomorrow, and get some time to sit and get things in order. No sign of a car yet!
Am loving the city--it's grown and developped a lot from what I remember from being here in 2004, but am still recognizing the main landmarks. I keep thinking of more things the more time I spend here! There's lots to explore. I look forward to having visitors in my first ever spare room!
Anyway, must go and do some school work and catch up on all that I'm way behind on! Will send more news soon!