Şəki [Sheki]

Leading into break, I was preparing to travel to Belarus to visit my dear friends. Unfortunately, I ran into some issues that kept me from going this month, so I have changed my tickets for Spring Break. This seems like a much better time to visit, and I think I’ll be much happier when the trip comes around.

As I was preparing to move to Azerbaijan, I read a blog about life in Baku. The author encouraged newcomers to travel outside of the city a few times to help create a feeling of returning home after each trip. I think this is an excellent idea for any country, not just when living in Azerbaijan. Since I had to move my trip to Belarus, I was concerned that staying in Azerbaijan all break would be hard for me. We have three full weeks off for the holidays, so I could imagine becoming homesick and depressed very quickly. Luckily, a group of teachers and their families from school were headed to a city in another part of the country, Şəki [Sheki]. Şəki is considered one of the oldest settlements in the Caucasus. Much of its history dates back about 2,500 years. To be perfectly honest, I knew nothing of this city before traveling there, but I knew I had to get out of Baku! As we arrived after our 6-hour drive, though, I was pleasantly surprised by its incredible, ancient architecture and beautiful scenery. What a drastic difference between Baku (cars, pollution, people) to Şəki (mountains, fresh air, space)! It is as if I took my first breath of fresh air since I boarded the plane in Gainesville. Everything has happened at such an accelerated rate over the past [almost] two months, so along with the poor air quality in Baku, I have also felt the pressure to perform and stay busy. Suddenly, I was given the opportunity to breathe and slow down. I am not sure I truly understand how much I needed this getaway, but I do know I am so refreshed and content now that I have returned.

I was one of the only ones on the trip who had not been to Şəki before, so I missed out on some of the informational parts of the trip. I know I can just google information on the different sights we visited, but instead I’ll just share the information I already know. Şəki was a stop on the Silk Road, actually the largest. Below, you will find several pictures from the Caravanserai, which is the trade post where travelers would stay with their camels. We also spent time at an elaborately decorated palace called Khanserai. Click each of the pictures below for a description of what it is and any other information I have about the photo.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I will spend it wrapping presents, baking cookies, attending a teacher’s party, and spending the night at an American family’s home. I am so thankful that I do not have to wake up to an empty house on Christmas morning. I will not be home with my family, but at least I have a sweet family here to make me feel warm and loved. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas from Baku!

Seasons Greetings,
Kanani

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