Weird Animal Stories
The first story comes from the inside of a marshrutka as you can see from the picture. I was coming back from Mingechavir as I very often do and I hitched a ride with a very nice couple from Balaken, a region in far northwestern Azerbaijan on the Georgian, Russian border. They were going to visit their son who was in the military in Shemkir, a city about an hour west of Ganja. Since they were passing through the city the gave me a lift. We chatted quite a bit and they were of course curious about me, a young woman standing by the side of the road trying to get to Ganja. Not long into our journey but what did I spy ahead of us but an old Russian car carrying an unusual load. Yes folks there were live sheep strapped to the roof rack. I had seen this before but had failed to get a picture but I was ready this time. I've also seen ducks tied to the tops of cars as well. The couple were laughing too, so I guess it is a little bit unusual. When I asked they said it was not 'normal.'
A few weeks later I was in Mingechavir (again) and Mike and I were strolling through the bazaar trying to scrounge up some grub for dinner, when we heard lots and lots of little cheeping noises. We looked around and then down and there was a box filled with baby chickens for sale- 60 cents a pop! Not bad considering eggs are 10 cents a piece. If you keep it healthy its a pretty good return on your investment, especially if you just feed it food scraps and um other things, but I'll get to that story later on. We almost got one for Mike's sitemate Nate. But we thought since he didn't have a yard it might not be a good idea. They're pretty cute!
And now for the story of Fankie. I think his full name is Francis but I'm not positive. Fankie is a hedgehog that Maria saved from the Ganja bazaar. I've seen them in cages on the street and wondered what they were use for. I found out its soup. I'm not really sure how Azeris prepare it, whether they just dump the whole hedgehog in the pot and let it stew like with khash? (Note: Khash is a delicacy of boiled cow or sheep head and legs. These parts are severed, the hair is blowtorched off and they are sold all over town. I walk by several Head and Feet shops on my wayto work. There is even a door to door head and feet salesman. You just dump the head and feet in a pot add some herbs and then enjoy the yummy goodness that falls out and into your bowl. Needless to say I've never tried khash, nor do I intend to. My host family tried to feed me entrails soup once but the smell of it killed my appetite. I can't imagine what khash would be like.)
Back to Frankie. Maria is a Peace Corps Volunteer in Qazaq, far Western Azerbaijan on the Armenian and Georgian border. She bought Frankie for 5 manat. I'm not sure why other than they're pretty cute, low maintenance, and when you live in Qazaq who wouldn't want someone or something to keep you company. Frankie made a trip to Ganja a couple of weeks ago and curious, Mike and I went over to visit him at Tor's apartment. (Tor is a PC volunteer in Ganja) This is a picture of Tor with Frankie. Although hedgehogs are nocturnal, we did get him out and waddling around before dark. He especially liked to crawl into the dark spaces.... hmmm.
My final story is from a couple of days ago, and its dedicated to Carol. I remember several conversations with Carol, when she was still here in Ganja, about her affinity for finding dead animals either whole or in part all around they city and country. I may not have seen as many as she has but I've definitely seen my share, too, mostly chicken feet or heads right outside my doorstep. But the other night I was walking back home from work and in a patch of trash riddled dirt were three or four severed rooster heads. But the funny thing was- well not funny- more like disturbing was the group of live chickens scratching around the same area. I ran upstairs got my camera but sadly when I returned, the live chickens had gone but the roosters were still there. So I got a picture of that. Yeah its pretty nasty. sorry. But dead animals in all their forms really is part of life here. I'm just really, really glad I'm a vegetarian. Oh and the other animals of note in the picture are the ants. Its ant season again. My apartment is infested but not as bad as Mike's. Try as I might can't keep it clean enough to get rid of them. I guess its just part of summer.