Adventures Along the Caspian Pipeline This summer, a 1,000-mile pipeline is expected to begin pumping oil from Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea coast, through neighboring Georgia, to a Turkish port on the Mediterranean Sea. Ivan Watson travels the length of the pipeline and reports on the people and places along the way.

Adventures Along the Caspian Pipeline

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline runs through three countries between the Caspian and Mediterranean seas. Doug Beach for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Doug Beach for NPR

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline runs through three countries between the Caspian and Mediterranean seas.

Doug Beach for NPR

Turkey

The Georgian border gate to Turkey. Aside from guards and customs workers, the border crossing is mostly deserted. Ivan Watson, NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Ivan Watson, NPR

The Georgian border gate to Turkey. Aside from guards and customs workers, the border crossing is mostly deserted.

Ivan Watson, NPR

Gulperi Alsan stands in her one-room farmhouse in the Turkish village of Sogutveren. Her family makes a living selling milk, cheese and butter from its herd of seven cows. "The only food we need to buy are fruits and vegetables," Alsan's husband says. Burcak Dogan hide caption

toggle caption
Burcak Dogan

Gulperi Alsan stands in her one-room farmhouse in the Turkish village of Sogutveren. Her family makes a living selling milk, cheese and butter from its herd of seven cows. "The only food we need to buy are fruits and vegetables," Alsan's husband says.

Burcak Dogan

Her nephew, Olcay Alsan, holds a 2-day-old calf. Alsan is dressed in the work suit he received when doing part-time work constructing the pipeline. He hopes to get steady work with the oil company. Burcak Dogan hide caption

toggle caption
Burcak Dogan

Her nephew, Olcay Alsan, holds a 2-day-old calf. Alsan is dressed in the work suit he received when doing part-time work constructing the pipeline. He hopes to get steady work with the oil company.

Burcak Dogan

A craftsmen hard at work carving prayer beads out of "oltu," the semiprecious stone the town of Oltu is named after. Translated into English as "black diamond," the stone is mined nearby. Craftsmen make prayer beads and other items from the material. Burcak Dogan hide caption

toggle caption
Burcak Dogan

A craftsmen hard at work carving prayer beads out of "oltu," the semiprecious stone the town of Oltu is named after. Translated into English as "black diamond," the stone is mined nearby. Craftsmen make prayer beads and other items from the material.

Burcak Dogan

Georgia

"Uncle Gocha" Makhatadze stands outside his beloved, crumbling House of Culture in Vale, Georgia. He has been volunteering to try to maintain the building, which he says was abandoned by the government ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Diana Petriashvili hide caption

toggle caption
Diana Petriashvili

"Uncle Gocha" Makhatadze stands outside his beloved, crumbling House of Culture in Vale, Georgia. He has been volunteering to try to maintain the building, which he says was abandoned by the government ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Diana Petriashvili

Ripped and water-stained Soviet art still decorates a once-grand hallway inside the House of Culture. Town residents continue to hold dances and concerts in the crumbling building, which they fear could one day collapse. Ivan Watson, NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Ivan Watson, NPR

Ripped and water-stained Soviet art still decorates a once-grand hallway inside the House of Culture. Town residents continue to hold dances and concerts in the crumbling building, which they fear could one day collapse.

Ivan Watson, NPR

A crumbling medieval castle sits on a hilltop at the southern end of the Borjomi Gorge in Georgia. Borjomi is home to one of the largest national parks in Europe. Diana Petriashvili hide caption

toggle caption
Diana Petriashvili

A crumbling medieval castle sits on a hilltop at the southern end of the Borjomi Gorge in Georgia. Borjomi is home to one of the largest national parks in Europe.

Diana Petriashvili

The death cast of Joseph Stalin is on display in the Stalin museum in Gori, Georgia. Stalin, born Joseph Dzhugashvili, is still revered in the town of his birth. Ivan Watson, NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Ivan Watson, NPR

The death cast of Joseph Stalin is on display in the Stalin museum in Gori, Georgia. Stalin, born Joseph Dzhugashvili, is still revered in the town of his birth.

Ivan Watson, NPR

Azerbaijan

The Azerbaijan State Philharmonic performs Mozart's Requiem at Baku's concert hall, which was constructed by oil barons during the city's first oil boom, which began in the 1870s. Photos by Ivan Watson, NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Photos by Ivan Watson, NPR

The Azerbaijan State Philharmonic performs Mozart's Requiem at Baku's concert hall, which was constructed by oil barons during the city's first oil boom, which began in the 1870s.

Photos by Ivan Watson, NPR

Poor Azerbaijanis live in houses amid the pollution of the Balakhami oil fields just outside Baku. hide caption

toggle caption

Poor Azerbaijanis live in houses amid the pollution of the Balakhami oil fields just outside Baku.

Nushaba Shukurova points to the bullet-riddled front gate and garage beside her front-line farm house in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Her gate faces an Armenian army position less then 100 yards away. hide caption

toggle caption

Nushaba Shukurova points to the bullet-riddled front gate and garage beside her front-line farm house in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Her gate faces an Armenian army position less then 100 yards away.

Azerbaijani conscripts gather water along the Nagorno-Karrabakh front lines. hide caption

toggle caption

Azerbaijani conscripts gather water along the Nagorno-Karrabakh front lines.