Friday, October 26, 2012

The circus came to town...and a visit to Qax, Sheki, and surroundings

The circus came to town...and a visit to Qax, Sheki, and surroundings

Last spring the traveling circus was in town, and set up its portable tent and bleachers near the post office and town park.  I went to see the show with a fellow PCV, James, visiting from Qax, who had seen the show in his town and in fact had struck up acquaintance with some of the performers.  Interestingly, there were no animal acts in the show, but comedic clowns, acrobats and jugglers, tumblers and high-wire acts.  We arrived early, and since the manager (and who’s also the juggling artist, announcer, box office manager and son of the owner—they all wear multiple hats in a small operation like this) let us in early and gave us complimentary admission and seats ring side.  He also happens to be married to the star acrobat.  She is spectacular, and what a show!  The artists match the abilities of Teatro ZinZanni and Cirque du Soleil.  And to watch everything up close was fantastic.  The best part?  When James was called on stage to be part of a tumbling act! 

Traveling shows like this are interesting.  The tent stayed up all summer, while the performers took their vacation.  It is truly too hot here in summer to perform these circus acts, and too hot for customers to sit in the tent to watch.  This fall they came and packed up to move on.  They would be a big hit in any town in these parts—and in Europe, where I think they were headed.
 The Big Top at an intersection in Mingachevir

 PCV James, now a circus star!
 The juggler, who also serves as the over-all general manager, the box office manager, disk jockey and announcer, as well as being the husband of the star acrobat and the son of the circus owner

 Every circus has its clowns!

Qax was one of the town's nestled in the Caucasus Mountain range that I recently had a chance to visit with my good friends from America, Jerry and Mary.  Near by we visited also the small town of Qum, and we were also in one of Azerbaijan's gems--Sheki, with its historic hotel that served as a stop for caravans along the Silk Road and with its spectacular Khan Palace.  Sheki, and its suburb Qish, Qax, and Qum are in the region that was originally home to ancient Albanian Christians--not at all connected to today's Albania, the term rather refers to this part of the Caucasus in ancient times.  In the area there are several old ruins and one intact church from this era; in Qax there is still an active Georgian Orthodox church.
 In Ilisu, near Qax

 Old mosque
 Ancient fortifications in Ilisu

 Hey, you know what--I can see Russia from the bridge!
 Georgian Orthodox Church of St. George in Qax, still in use by locals of Georgian descent
 St. George Church
 Ruins of large church from the Albanian Christian era

 Mild traffic jam on our excursion

 Beautiful Albanian church in Qish, just past Sheki in the mountains
 Typical way to transport--and buy--produce
 Centuries old hotel--Karavansaray--a caravan stop, used as an overnight spot for caravans along the Silk Road
 The caravan stop in Sheki, stop-over on the Silk Road

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