As I mentioned in my previous post, I also managed to send out some RTS covers while I was in Azerbaijan in order to get postmarks from towns either too far away or too remote to visit.
İ made it a point to send out all the letters registered since İ had a feeling that they would not return if there was no record of them in the first place. Registration used to cost only 0.7 AZN (0.68 EUR) more, so it was not too much to shell out.
Here are (almost all) of the covers:
I send this cover to Astara, the town on the Azerbaijan-Iran border. I wanted badly to go to Iran since it was only a few hours away by land, but because of my citizenship, there was what I might call an "Iron Curtain" in my way.
The cover was sent out from the central post office on 11.02.12 and it arrived in Astara on 15.02.12. The distance between the two cities is a mere 320 km, or 5 hours by car. In Germany, letters sent from anywhere to anywhere in the entire country are often delivered the next day. When I lived in America, I remember that the maximum waiting time used to be 3 days from the East coast to the West coast.
On 16.02.11, a notice slip was attached, with "Ünvan düzgün deyil" (Adress incorrect) crossed out. The letter arrived back in Baku on the 21st. An interesting thing to note is that, when mail arrives in Baku, it seems that it is delivered to the recipient on the same day. Or it could also be that they just stamp the back of the envelope in the morning on the day it is to be delivered. Who knows?
This is a cover I sent to the town or Daşkəsən, a town 390 km from Baku and even farther away and more remote than Astara! This town lies near the border with Armenia as well as the de facto border with the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Daşkəsən has recently been in the news because of some hazing issues in the Azerbaijan military. Apparently, a conscript was beaten to death by superiors during hazing at the military camp in Daşkəsən. Read more about it here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-11/facebook-calls-rally-azeris-to-protest-army-hazing-after-death.html
This letter left Baku on 16.02.12. There is not backstamp to show when it arrived, but the notice slip was stamped and signed on 20.02.12. It arrived in Baku on the 24th
This cover was sent out to the interesting little Autonomous Republic of Naxçıvan, which is a landlocked exclave of Azerbaijan. This region is extremely hot and dry in the summer and cold and freezing in the winter. It is here whence the current president and his beloved father Heydər Əliyev, the former president, hail. Local legend also has it that Noah's ark ended its journey on the peak of one of the region's mountains. It is a land known for snakes an mystery, and (ironic considering its climate) wealth and abundance. People from Naxçıvan are apparently the richer half of Azerbaijani society, and many in office find their roots here. Of course, this is all according to what I gathered from the locals, who take pride in their land, their heritage, and their precarious political and geographical position.
The cover left from the AZ-1038 post office in the Balaxani district of Baku on 22.02.12 and arrived in Naxçıvan on the first of March. The notice slip was attached on the same day, and the cover arrived back in Baku on the fifth, in less time than it took for the letter to make to Naxçıvan to Baku. I wonder if it took less time because the letter was driven over through Iran when it was sent out and then flown back over to Baku when it was returned. Or is it just Naxçıvan's efficiency that was at work? The region is known among other Azerbaijanis as a place where everything is strict, old-fashioned, and efficient. Some people even claim that they still live as though there were in the Soviet Union!
I cannot really make out the very first handwritten line at the top, but it seems to read, "1 eb." I cannot decode what that might mean Under it is written "qayıdır," which means "returns" so maybe "1 eb." has something to do with "1 piece"? Just a guess. At the bottom it says, "arxaya baxın," or the polite way of saying "Look at the back," since the return address was there.
This cover was sent to the mountainous neighbor to the northeast, Georgia, or "Gürcüstan" in Azerbaijani and Turkish. It was sent out on 18.02.12 from the main post office (notice the meter postage) and arrived in Tbilisi on 22.02.12. It was then stamped again in Tbilisi on 28.02.12 although it is not clear why.
A notice of return slip was then attached to it and stamped on 20.03.12, stating that the item was unclaimed, which is strange since the address did not even exist, so of course it cannoot be claimed! It arrived back in my hand in Baku on 28.03.12
This next cover was something I sent out to Iran because I thought it would be great fun. From past experience, I knew that the Iranian Post rewrites the addresses of foreign letters in Farsi (I imagine that there is a special section of the central mail distribution center called "Address Translation Department). This is why I could not give up the chance to have a cool cover from Iran, and cool is this cover indeed! The return notice is not a slip of paper like it is in Azerbaijan and Georgia, but a nice, big, bold blue stamp! Wonderful!
This cover was sent out on the same day as the one above sent to Georgia (18.02.12) and received backstamp in Iran (presumably in Tehran) on 6 Esfand 1390, which corresponds to 25.02.2012 of the common era calendar. There is no indication as to when it was dispatched back to Azerbaijan, but it was received back in Baku on 24.03.12, more than a month after it was sent out.
This last cover is something I sent from Germany to Naxçıvan using an envelope printed by Azeri Post and bearing the cachet design celebrating the 80th year of the Autonomous Republic's autonomy, which is not obvious since the pink slip attached to the cover is covering more than half of it.
The cover left Deggendorf on 24.11.2012 and was received in Naxçıvan City, the region's capital, on what seems to be 30.11.12. It was then received in Ordubad, a town at the very tip of the nation, wedged between the Armenian and Iranian borders, on 03.12.12. The cover was then received back in Naxçıvan City on the fifth and back in Deggendorf on the fourth of January, 2013.