Across Continents

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Groundhog Day

Another instalment of the armchair adventure? It was beginning to feel like Groundhog Day.

They’d been a development the previous afternoon. The ship was sailing for Kazakhstan, fully laden but no passengers. Not quite sure when it was going, and the idea of a ferry so full of cargo no-one else could board seemed almost beyond comprehension. That would make it two sailings, opportunities to cross the Caspian, that had alluded me. Two weeks left on my Azerbaijan visa before I’d need to leave the country to obtain a fresh one. Probably simpler than trying to obtain an extension.

Mostly out of frustration, I’d headed down to the port in the early evening. Ticket office closed. No one around. I’d got a bit lost and found myself wandering around the docks for a while. At least gave me a chance to see what ships were actually in port. A few Iranian flagged vessels. Not very promising. But a couple of Roll-On-Roll-Off ferries at anchor in the bay, too distant to make out their names. Maybe one was mine.

I’d known the visit to the port had little prospect of achieving anything, but it had at least given me chance to think. What I needed was anything that floated, and a fair wind. Could it be that difficult? I headed back to the western suburbs where I was staying with Brian and his daughter Savannah, a few fresh ideas beginning to gel.


Over a very welcome beer and some fine homemade curry, Brian and I discussed the situation, carefully dissected what little information there seemed to be, looking for patterns that might unlock the problem. Perhaps the apparent absence of a pattern was itself a pattern? Brian suggested that this was becoming more than just about getting to Kazakhstan. It was an intellectual challenge. He was probably right.

The next morning – Day Eight – I’d a plan of sorts. Had to do something, anything, better than just waiting, especially when the prospect of success seemed so small. I’d made a few phone calls the previous evening and was waiting to hear back, see what they yielded. Couple more to make later. In the meantime, I’d other things to do. If I knew when the ferry was returning to port, I’d at least know when to head down there and try to get onboard. By whatever, albeit legitimate, means. But first I’d need the names of the ship. Or ships. No-one seemed quite sure.


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