So, after getting my Azerbaijani visa beforehand and finally getting my Kazakhstani visa after numerous problems and delays, I was off! Sort of. I left Seattle with Elizabeth to spend a few days with my folks in Redding and celebrate an early Thanksgiving with them. It was a very short visit, but it was great time and I was glad Elizabeth was able to come and spend some more time getting to know my family.
I flew out of Sacramento and connected in Chicago and Frankfurt before finally arriving in Baku, Azerbaijan. Upon arrival I was immediately reminded I wasn't in the US anymore. Passport control wasn't exactly an orderly line, with one lump of people going through the booth for foreign citizens and another lump for Azeri nationals. It was time to leave behind American ideals of fair play and order and embrace the chaos of the CIS: after seeing the Azeri lump of people dwindle down to two or three, I rushed over to that end and figured, with a learned Russian impudence, that the rules wouldn't apply to me. And guess what? They didn't. I passed right through the line supposedly reserved for Azeri nationals and stepped into Azerbaijan. Fortune (and life in the CIS) favors the bold.