The intensity of Iran has kept a high level regarding people, temperature, headwind and experiences. The last few days we have been cycling over small roads. One Iranian said: “that way only desert and small village”, and wanted us to take the main highway. We thought: “perfect”, and continued on the small road towards the desert and, yes, the feeling was like cycling to Tehran in an hot air oven.
See all the photos Through the desert to Tehran
Every time we go to a new country things are of course different. We have to learn how things work, say goodbye to the things we liked in the previous country and welcome the new differences in the new country. We have now been in Iran for almost two weeks (during Ramazan) and the country is growing on us. It has been for the first time that we have filled up our 10 liter water bag which gave Mojo a heavy load. In Turkey there was water almost everywhere while here, although most of the water is drinkable, it is not always easy to locate a water source.
We have been cycling through very barren country, dry with mud brick villages and fields with golden grain. The wind has been powering full on and taking a lot of concentration from us. People have been surprised to see us and still enjoy waving at us and stopping us next to the road.
Finding a place to sleep which was comfortable was sometimes a little harder. The ground is so warm from the power of the sun that the heat comes up through our sleeping mats and we sweat all night. Some nights we found very well irrigated orchards, which are cooler, where we could sleep. These occasions were almost always followed by an invitation to come back home and sleep in the house. In one small village we wanted to sleep in a field and before we knew it we had a bottle of tea, bottle of dough (Iranian yoghurt drink), bread, cheese, jam and we could eat and drink. After that we made our own food. A nice pasta. When we were cleaning our dishes, the young farmer came up to us and invited us home. We only had to think one moment.
When we arrived, cycling behind the farmers small motorbike, they were just bringing in the sheep for the night. We exchanged conversations through our Farsi phrase book. We tried to explain that we had already eaten, but nevertheless received a second dinner, a nice dish of spaghetti, eating it on the plastic sheet on the floor. The youngest three kids of the family were very curious and shy. We could sleep in one room with beds on the floor made up especially for us. Very special to be invited by such a warm family at such a special place.
The next evening we were also in an orchard and this time the farmer brought back his two daughters to convince us to come home with them. We were really looking for a quiet night because of the heat and the next day. We exchanged nice conversations for about an hour about them and us and it was nice to speak with some well educated Iranian women. It was a lovely evening in their orchard.
We also have been invited for lunch and an after lunch sleep by a shopkeeper in a very small village and by a Warmshowers host at the side of the road before Bu’in Zahra. We met his friends and had interesting talks about Iran, The Netherlands, The US and much more. In the evening we could join the family for there Iftar before they went to the mosque for the day of Imam Ali. One day when we started to look for a place to camp we came across a stall with many watermelons and were invited to eat. The guys were very happy and we received three watermelons for on the road. We ate one in the evening, one in the morning and then Isaba had the honour to carry the third on the next day. Really nice watermelons 🙂
With the heat it was important for us to start early and make good progress. The wind was holding us back but luckily the road had a slight downhill sometimes and was very mildly going up when it went up. After leaving Bu’in Zahra we stopped in Eshtehard for a cold drink, very welcome with these temperatures. The police was waiting for us when we came out of the shop and said: ‘Escorte’. We thought it wasn’t serious until we filled our water bottles and they waited for us. When we rode out of town ‘our’ police car stopped and was taken over by another one. Every time we stopped to drink or have a short rest they stopped and waited. While riding they were either 50 meters in front, behind or right next to us. 60 km onwards they stopped, said goodbye and started to stop cars in the road and we were by ourselves again, wondering if a new care would show up, but it didn’t. It made progress fast, we had done 74 km before lunch! It was quite an experience and added some adrenaline to our systems.
It was exciting and nervous to cycle into Tehran. We had heard many stories about the traffic in Iran and the traffic in Tehran especially. We had camped 40 km outside of Tehran and started early. Honestly we were surprised by how fast and easy we reached the centre of Tehran. The traffic is busy and the roads are hectic but there are not so much roads entering and leaving the road. When we arrived we contacted our host to arrange if we could arrive and cycled there to meet them and also three other cyclists from Germany, Brazil and Turkey. Also when Martin was exchanging money, Susanne was approached for an interview by a reporter at the office of the Islamic Republic News Agency (we were standing in front of the building). We had and interview by two Iranian women from the sports desk and it will probably be published on IRNA.ir.
The heat is still on and now the visa hassle starts. We will apply here for the Uzbek, Turkmen and Tajik visa and see how we will get on. Then we will take a bus to the south to visit Shiraz, Yazd and Esfahan, before continuing east on the bicycle towards Turkmenistan.