Sunday, October 24, 2010

Azerbaijani Mud Slapping

No, this is not actually a cultural thing, it’s just a game played by two immature Americans (myself included) when given a volcano of mud to play with!
YD Crew
Snakes: Don't Pass Through
The Musical Talents of The Family
Ulvi Checking Himself Out...Lookin' Buff!
Learning to Wrestle With the Boys

Yesterday, AZ8s went on a cultural day, venturing to Gobustan and the nearby mud volcanoes. Gobustan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is famous for its prehistoric, sacred rock carvings. There are more than 6,000 carvings dating back to between 5,000 and 40,000 years. The mud volcanoes are self-explanatory. However, approximately 30 minutes walk away from the site, the bus drivers stopped and refused to drive any further. We were forced to walk the rest of the way. I did not mind the trek, as we actually came across a small oil field with little, exposed pools of thick, bubbling Azeri oil (picture to come). I do not have many pictures of this site. A fellow PCT, Josh, was kind enough to take my camera and keep it out of danger as I childishly frolicked around the mud volcanoes (pictures below).

Over the past week or so, I have warmed up to my host-father enough to get him to teach me how to play N∂rd. This game, along with dominoes, are staples for the Azeri men. I assume it is very similar to Backgammon, but seeing as I have no idea how to play Backgammon, I really have no idea. Either way, you can see men playing N∂rd everywhere, from the Cayxanas (tea houses) and benches in the park to store fronts. I am pleased to say that I have become quite good at the game. Oktay, my father, does not speak a word of English, so I was forced to learn by having him beat my ass and mumble instructions to me for hours on end. He would correct my mistakes by brushing my hands aside and moving for me, without really explaining what I did wrong. Eventually, he stopped correcting my mistakes, and would just shake his head in disgust and laugh whenever I made an incorrect move. I love the guy but he clearly underestimates the language barrier here! Finally, I caught on. The other night, I beat him twice. I think he was more surprised than I was! As it became clear that I would win, he would nonchalantly start a new game without really recognizing that I had just won. We continued playing until he had beaten me enough times to restore his supremacy.

In other news, on October 12, Azerbaijan won in soccer against Turkey, 1-0. It was, in the words of FIFA 2009, a “brilliant corner”. I am not really a fan of soccer. What is amazing, however, is that although I knew the win was completely unprecedented, I had no idea just how important it was. To this day, the only thing shown on the few news channels that my family receives is highlights of the game! It’s everywhere and Azerbaijanis are extremely proud of their team!

This week, we have our mid-PST language proficiency exams! Wish me luck.

Sumgayit and the Caspian Sea
Your Neighborhood Fruit and DVD Store
We also have our site-placement interviews, where I will be able to speak one-on-one with my program manager about exactly what kind of permanent site I am looking for. I also have 4 conversation clubs to teach on Tuesday and Wednesday…busy week!!!
Fish Anyone?
Very Comfortable Bathroom!
Pre Mud Slapping
Post Mud Slapping
I May Have Fallen Into to Volcano


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  2. Rock Carvings!!!!!! Awesome!!!!
    Ummm.... don't think i didn't notice that tie your wearing in the first picture?! Does it have your host country's flag on it?!
    You look so happy and healthy!!!!
    Good luck on the test, and with your clubs this week!
    Much love, Em

  3. Don't fail and disappoint the Winn family name. Northeastern university and Johns Hopkins don't impress anyone (I had to throw a quote in their even though in context it doesn't make sense). I got my economics midterm back and I got a 78% so I'm pretty happy. I have to keep a 75 in all of my classes to get into the joint honors majors in business and economics. After I finish writing this I have my information systems class where I will get another midterm back. Wish me luck. Oh, for my Info class I had to make an art store website so check it out.

    Lots of love,

  4. you're a fantastic writer, jake. (sez a MA in English, Senate medalist, so there!) and your attitude is so intelligent and so grounded. i'm reminded of mark's cousin, a child psychiatrist, who ran, as a volunteer, a summer camp for underprivileged kids for more than 40 years, and who talked about the joys of beneficence. i see that in you. so take good care of yourself. thinking of you, and looking forward to your next fascinating installment. i'm halfway thru 'the village of waiting' - excellent. love gillian

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