This weekend our entire Peace Corps group did a little Azerbaijan exploring and we went to Qobustan, where there are petroglyphs from around 10,000 BC. They are covering these rocky hills that are eventually part of the Great Caucasian Ridge and are absolutely amazing. Carvings were all over and consisted of men, women, animals and boats. This area is fairly close to the Caspian and offers a great view, but in the time that the drawings were done the Caspian Sea, which I learned yesterday is the biggest lake in the world and has had over 70 names, was bordering these hills. As insanely awesome as the carvings were, probably the coolest thing about Qobustan was that we spent the afternoon hiking through the rocks and finally made it all the way to the top where we were able to rest and take in the view. The sea on one side and sheep grazing in the hills on the other side. It was one of those magical moments where you just feel like your life is pretty amazing and you can't believe you are actually doing what you are. Of course then we had to get down, I suppose we could have climbed down how we came up but we had made it to this area that had a ladder for doing just what we were doing so we decided to use it. That might have been one of the scariest things I have ever had to do! This latter went straight down for a very long time and moved around while you climbed on it. I did make it down, obviously, but I might not do it again.
Then from there, we moved on to the mud volcanoes. It was just this flat land that had all of these tall mounds of dirt on it. When you got to the top of that mound there was mud just bubbling out of it! The mud looked like it was boiling, but when you touched it, it was very cold. I definitely stuck my whole arm inside of one of the volcanoes and the mud just kept going! It was really crazy and everyone was getting muddy but then, Tim, who had not been playing in the mud, was innocently trying to take some pictures and fell into one of the holes! He went all the way up to his waist before he somehow made it out on his own. At first it was a little scary, but Tim is a good sport and pretty soon we were all laughing, even Tim. How could you not as this boy is walking across this desert-like place completely covered in mud up to his stomach. Don't worry, he is totally fine.
After this day of exploring I got to go to my second Toy! I did more dancing at this one and even got in on one of the traditional circle dances they do around the bride and groom, it was very cool. This morning I went with my mom to another settlement where her sister lives. Her sister is hosting another volunteer, Jenny. Our moms taught us and another volunteer Amanda to make dolma, which is one of my favorite things here. It was very awesome, but don't expect me to be able to make it when I get home ;) Life is good in the AZB. Thanks for the letters mom, grandma T, Chrissy, Linnea and Cote! I'll write you back soon.