The border crossing from Georgia to Azerbaijan has been built up as the first of the difficult ones. A nightmare of kafkaesque paper work, permits, stamps and hanging around. "Hurry up and wait" writ large.
The sign leaving Georgia didn't fill us with confidence (see photo).
The border guards were conscripts doing a year in uniform before getting on with their studies. One lad was more interested in how to get onto an MA programme in England than checking our papers.
We had an interesting discussion about whether Nagorno Karabakh belonged to Azerbaijan or Armenia. The correct answer is Azerbaijan and luckily that is what my map showed.
15 minutes of hanging round and we were allowed through to passport control and customs. The inevitable cry of "Documents. Passport" and we were ushered to the window one at a time. 5 minutes and we were done. The threatened entry tax (known as "insurance") was no longer needed and we were through. It seems that since GB were here two years ago it has all been computerised. "Welcome to Azerbaijan".
After Georgian pine forests we were in the wide valley of western Azerbaijan. The (very uneven) road arrowed eastward between avenues of whitewashed tree trunks. Wide grass verges kept the sheep herders off the carriageway. Their large flocks of sheep and long horned goats were led by a pack donkey and followed by roaming sheepdogs.
We have stopped for the night in the small town of Shaki before a run down the Bakku tomorrow to find a ship that will take us across the Caspian Sea.