Observations of an American journalist in Azerbaijan, Russia and USA.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Today was thankfully short on work, and long on fun. I spoke to the students in the morning about their stories - asking which sources they were going to interview for the articles they are writing. Some, not surprisingly, had not given the matter much thought, but some had - and had a good list of sources to interview. It is difficult - because most of these students don't have press credentials. This limits their access to officialdom - but I tell them to try anyway. The worst that can happen is that they are denied access. But - you don't know if you don't try.
While one of my colleagues talked with the students about webcasting, I strolled up to the old town of Sheki with my colleague Chuck. He's never been to Sheki - and he was up for a hike. Good thing - because most of the walk to the old town is uphill. We stopped by a hat shop I had visited before - and chatted with the proprietor, who has been making hats for 40 years. Who will make these hats after he is gone? I don't think this is a craft that teenagers are learning nowadays. Chuck bought one hat & I will probably return next week & buy one myself.
We dropped by the Caravanserai - a restored building that used to shelter traders passing through Sheki - a prominent stop on the Silk Road. The lodging is quirky - no heat or air conditioning - but because of the construction - quite comfortable for much of the year. I've included a shot of the arches in the building.
In the afternoon, we went up to the ruined fortress of Gelersen Gorasen - which is roughly translated as "Come & see." This refers to the challenge of the Chelabi, local khan when confonted by the demands of Persian invaders in 1740. He said - come check out my fort & see if you can make bend. The fortress withstood the onslaught - but the local town didn't.
Now - the fort is in ruins - but many of the walls remain. It's a wonderful hike - and easy to imagine soldiers trying to scale its daunting walls.