Spent too much of today playing cat and mouse games with Azeri cops. Four cars of them in total trying to pick out the tourist amongst the traffic for a misdemeanour they could extract a bribe for. We were down to 20kph at times with one cop car tailgating us and another in front. Their problem was we were pretty much in a built up areas and so trying on a trumped up charge would risk witnesses and an embarrassing dispute, far better for them to nab us out on a lonely stretch. It’s pretty painful and despite local traffic going past openly flaunting any road rule, it is very clear that the cops’ mission is to pick on the tourist. Have to say I was pretty close to giving them the one fingered salute a few times.
Apart from that was a good day, transiting down to Azerbaijan’s southwest corner along the Iranian border. Iran has recently brought in a rule that no motorcycles over 250cc are allowed in and we have met a couple of groups who have had to change their plans and instead ferry across the Caspian from Baku directly to Turkmenistan or Kazakstan. Reminds me of our Silkriders epic of 2005 where we were looking to ferry but then per chance Iran opened up and so we got to ride it. Apart from getting arrested and having to enlist the services of Foreign Minister Phil Gough to spring us, it was a great experience.
The Azeris are really friendly, totally infatuated with Joanne – women are a rare sight here, apart from in the fields working. They certainly aren’t seen drinking beer, playing around in mechanical workshops, and motorcycles are a rarity anyway – let alone one ridden by a woman.