Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Camp Beku (Day 137)
That's really about the only way to describe our situation. We talked yesterday with the head of the ferry boat administration and he told us they won't send another ferry to Kazakhstan for at least another week. So we are literally stuck here.
Our options at this point are:
- Wait for a ferry to Kazakhstan which may someday show up.
- Get VISA's for Turkministan and take the daily ferry there.
- Drive North around the Caspian sea.
- Drive South around the Caspian sea.
1) I've already described the issue with number 1. Specifically that it's a long ways off and we have no evidence it'll even go next week.
2) VISA's for Turkministan cannot be acquired in Azerbaijan because of a dispute of oil in the Caspian sea. So for us to get VISA's to Turkministan we have to drive to Armenia. Well the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia is also closed due to a border dispute. So to get there we'd have to drive back to Georgia. Apply for a VISA to Armenia in Georgia and then go to Armenia. Once in Armenia we could apply for a VISA to Turkministan. Then go back to Georgia and apply for new VISA's to Azerbaijan. Come back here and catch a ferry.
3) Drive North around the Caspian. Well here's the problem. Between the Black sea and the Caspian sea is Georgia and Azerbaijan. North of them is Russia. So easy choice since we've got multiple entry VISA's for Russia. Except the border between Georgia and Russia is closed completely and the border between Azerbaijan and Russia is closed to foreigners. Why are they closed? Because Chechnya and Dagestan are Russian republics to the north and there's a guerilla war going on. Now from everything we've heard Dagestan is actually fairly safe but they won't let us go that route.
4) Drive South around the Caspian. Directly south of Azerbaijan and continuing east around the Caspian is a little country called Iran. Which we would happily drive through at this point however we have to get permission from the state department prior to requesting the VISA and then we'd have to get Iran to approve the VISA which would take quite a bit of time itself. In addition we have to leave a $1500 deposit to bring the car in.
So were fucked. We've decided to go with option number 2 but we are leaning on our consulates to get the VISA's issued in Turkministan and courriered over here. I called the American Consulate in Turkministan and they told me to screw off. Actually their exact words were "I'm sorry it's against the law for us to help private citizens with VISA issues even in emergency situations." WTF? Who would write a law like that. Needless to say I've already written a long letter to both our Senators asking why we would have a law preventing Consulates from helping Americans.
The British on the other hand have been more helpful to their citizens (though it probably doesn't hurt that we have the daughter of a member of parliament with us) and to us as well. They agreed to not only work out VISA's for the Brits but to handle ours as well. However they aren't sure how long it will take. They say 5-10 days is likely.
So at the end of the day the chances of us making Mongolia are now extremely low. But on the plus side we are thinking of going into the mountains to go camping for the next three days.
Hope you make it to Turkministan and eventually Mongolia!!
- Do you ever sit around thinking, why did we think this trip was a good idea, or have you been positive the whole time thinking it's all worth it?
- Have you considered waiting until the middle of the night and stealing the ferry or silently pushing your car across the borders for which you don't have visas? You might as well make it exciting right? :)
If you are a US or EU citizen then
you can get an Armenian viza right on the border crossing. It takes something like 5-7 minutes for that.
You can actually order it online (yes, Armenia is the only country which issues visas online), and then get it stamped into your passport on the border crossing.
If you are a Russian citizen then you might not even need a visa.
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