Baku Driving through the fog to the airport in Baku.

We dove through the winter fog that silvered and made indistinct the familiar tumbledown, Soviet era, dock buildings and cranes of Baku.

The heavy clawing smell of crude oil, ever present in the city, became almost overpowering, as we passed the refinery at the docks, where oil literally dripped down the perimeter walls onto the road outside. 

I couldn’t see the flowing oil this time, but the veil of the wall fog seemed to intensify the smell of it

Gloomy taxi drivers huddled in groups at every crossroad, sullenly regarding the world from under their dark hooded brows, the ever present cigarette clamped between, thick peasant fingers.

Dark hunched shapes appeared briefly through the murk, drifting between the moving cars- in and out like shadows, wrapped from head to foot in thick clothing against the Baku winter.  Women wore hats and scarves, men wore fur caps with side flaps.

Further on and despite the poor visibility, the women who sweep the highways worked away, risking their lives more than usual in their dirty high-vis bibs that provided the outer layer of their winter clothing. Their twig brooms moved rhythmically as they carried on their never ending task.

I was due to travel home, but near the airport the visibility seemed worse and I doubted that my flight would leave on schedule.

On the motorway, some drivers practiced caution, lighting their fog lamps and even using hazard lights, but the majority simply sped on with their normal abandon and disregard, most didn’t even have their lights on.

Mud spattered Lada’s loomed up out of the fog without warning and were swallowed by it as quickly.   

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