"Wonderful Dagestan people" Respublika Dagestan by jorgejuansanchez
Respublika Dagestan Travel Guide: 1 reviews and 7 photos
After having visited Vorkuta, up in the Republic of Komi, during the annual reindeer race, I travelled in buran (a kind of snowmobile to cross the frozen rivers) and trains to live for some weeks with the monks of a Buddhist monastery in Kyzyl, Tuva republic, and after that I headed to the Caucasus to visit the seven bellicose Caucasian republics, from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea.
I knew that it would not be an easy journey judging by the recent news in that part of the world: wars, kidnapping people, Russian Army that would see suspicious to find a foreigner travelling in that troubled area, corruption, bandits, etc., apart from the bad weather conditions in December 2006.
But the magic of adventure is so powerful that I did not consider any of these dangers and thus went ahead without any fear!
FIRST REPUBLIC: DAGESTAN
I arrived early in the morning to Makhachkala, Dagestan capital. Just at the railway station I saw a plaque commemorating the visit of Stalin in the twenties, and I felt uncomfortable. After walking around the town for a few hours I decided to go southwards, to the 5000 years old city of Derbent, considered Patrimony of the Humankind by the UNESCO.
It was only a 2 hours drive in a marshrut, o minibus.
Once in Derbent I was delighted. While in Makhachkala there was snow, in Derbent the weather was more pleasant and the view over the Caspian Sea was fantastic.
The town seems to belong to the middle Ages. There is an imposing old fortress over the top of the hill that I visited at once, and then entered inside the citadel. People still wear exotic caps made on animal skins and spoke many different languages, but mainly Azeri, because of the short distance with neighbour Azerbaijan. I was told that in Dagestan speak 46 languages, but everybody understands Russian.
After two days I took a night bus to Nalchik because the direct and shorter road to Chechnya, so I was told, was closed.
During the post controls between republics the army always asked me baksheesh. Usually I refused, even if that meant to be searched my bag and being asked questions about my presence there, but sometimes I gave a few rubbles, especially in the border with Chechnya where an officer, 1.90 meters tall, almost 2 meters I think now, between Rambo and Tarzan type, with muscles everywhere, even in his ears, requested me baksheesh for “champagnski”. He was so nice and gave me so much information about the Caucasus and Abkhazia that I gave him 100 rubbles for “champagnski” (a bottle of Sovietskoe Shampanskoye costs about 70 rubbles in the supermarkets). Then he asked me for chocolate as well, because Russians drink champagnski eating chocolate. Finally I gave him 100 rubbles more for chocolate. He was extremely happy and wished me best luck during my hazardous journey.
Early in the morning I reached Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino Balkaria.
Please, read my Kabardino Balkaria page if you want to follow my journey.
Derbent, Bayat-Kapi gate.
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