The route of the day was as such: Tabriz – Julfa – Meghri, the lone point of border crossing between Iran and Armenia. It posed a few challenges, as very, very few people speak English in this little-visited province of Iran called East Azerbaijan. As you can tell from the name, it’s the domain of Azeri people in Iran, or as they are known there, the Azari.
Tabriz being the capital of the province, is fairly well-connected to most population centres around, including Julfa, a small town across the river of another Julfa, located in Nakhichevan district of Azerbaijan-the-country. But I had no need to go there – my route was to Armenia. I got to Julfa by a minibus, and then the driver told me to get out and pointed to a row of cars – collective taxis, that are a fairly common means of transportation in many countries. It’s basically a ride share, something like Uber pool for those in the US.
We waited for about an hour until the car filled in with 4 people in addition to the driver and off we went, along the road meandering the border region and the Aras river (Araks, as it is also known). What I could mostly see from my side of the car were jagged, rocky cliffs on the Azerbaijani side of the river.
Eventually, all the passengers got off except me and an old man who had no luggage with him and looked like a villager who visited Julfa and was coming back to his hamlet somewhere in this arid landscape. He was sitting silently in the back seat next to me. As the driver spoke no English, there was no conversation between him and me, either. We had been on the way for over 2 hours at that point, and the old man started dozing off, eventually leaning his head on my shoulder. At first I thought of nudging him and waking him up so that he could reposition himself, but then I thought, why bother – he wasn’t a big burden and I, too, was getting weary of the road myself. I could not afford dozing off myself, though, as I couldn’t miss the stop and had to stay on alert in this strange land before my own border crossing to what would turn out to be another adventurous journey.
So all I did was take a few selfies with the man on my shoulder with my camera that I had in my backpack. I hope he is still doing fine.