Crossing into Russia from Azerbaijan I had no idea what to expect. Well, it didn’t start well. My first experience was getting put into one of those customs cells at the border. They told me it was because of the Pakistan visa I had in my passport and they might not let me in. This would have been a total disaster because I only had a single entry visa for Azerbaijan so going back there really wasn’t an option. After sitting there for a good hour they opened up the door, handed me my passport and said I was cleared to go.I then spent the next couple hours getting Gina inspected and her paperwork sorted out. Finally we were heading down the road.
I dont think there are a lot of things in my life that had prepared me for my trip through Dagestan. These people are seriously the friendliest people I have ever met in my life. I think I drove about 30 minutes before the first car was waving at me to pull over. I did. One of the guys insisted I come to his house to eat and sleep there that night. It was still early in the day so I regretfully declined. Instead he ran to a nearby fruit stand, bought a bag of apples and handed them to me, we took a couple photos, shook hands and I was off. Another hour down the road I was driving through a police check point and of course got waved down to pull over. The military guys all circled around my motorcycle as I stepped off and the pictures immediately started. They took me into the barracks and gave me watermelon, coffee and then put an AK-47 and 50cal in my hand for another photo shoot! Haha it was AWESOME! They were all very friendly and before I took off they insisted I take one of their melons they had as a gift. I tried and tried to say no given the fact that I already had a bag of apples but they wouldn’t take no for an answer. So, I strapped it down on the back of my bike and took off looking more like a mobile fruit stand vs an adventure motorcycle rider. THe onslaught continued, the waves, honks and signals to pull over were relentless! I need to take a break from riding so I pulled over behind some trees thinking I was going to be able to smoke a cigarette and get back on the road without disruption. That did not happen. Out of nowhere a group of about 6 guys appeared and started checking out GIna. I sat there for about 20 minutes trying to answer the questions I thought they were asking since none of them spoke English and my Russian is also non-existent. They noticed all the fruit I had on the back of my motorcycle and decided I didn’t have enough so one of the guys leaves and reappears with another bag of fruit! You can see the picture below.
I could go on and on with these stories over the next few days but I’ll leave it at that. Dagestan was a great experience and I look forward to going back to Russia for the 2018 World Cup! I definitely have a few friends to visit now.