After a long wait, I finally got my visa to Iran. A big thanks is appropriate to those who helped me to endure three weeks in glass, steel and concrete: Lee, Mathew, Angela, Mohsen and Fereshteh. I got ticket for the boat across the Persian Gulf for the next morning. My bags weighted in at 43 kg – lucky they didn’t include the bike and trailer (total 60 kg) with which I would have had to pay over weight. I arrived by late evening to busy Bandar Abbas and in company of a Dutch backpacker pitched tent by a police post between the sea and the bazaar.
The next day is a hot start after too many days in air-con Emirates. Fortunately the road winds uphill, and after just four days I find myself at above 2,000 meters. I’ve been invited to peoples’ homes for dinner and sleep three of the four nights, although one of them ended up with camping with the police due to the host being a heavy opium smoker (smells like old socks). That fourth night at Jebal (mountain) Barez, is spent in the house of local English teacher Mohammad with wife and kids. His invitation is proof not only of the world-famous Iranian hospitality, but also the people’s great curiosity and hunger for meeting new people and knowledge. Before I leave the next morning, he asks me one favor: to send him jokes in English by SMS!
Up to main-town Mashhad in the northeast of Iran (from where I’m now about to depart to Turkmenistan just 200 kilometers ahead) the road cut through an empty desert and else mostly desolate, bare mountains. But the people – and the police who drove me for about 150 kilometers due to fears of opium smugglers – made this desert more pleasant and interesting than any previous one that I’ve passed through. If not invited to someone’s home – invariably treated with great food and comfort – I camped by the police checkpoints. And when No Ruz (the Iranian New Year) celebration begun, I was just one of many campers as locals, too, headed out to enjoy the nature during their two-week long vacation. Iran: one of the most picnic- and camping friendly countries I’ve been to.
Through hospitalityclub now good friend Mehdi put me up in Mashhad and kept my bike safe while I went to Tehran for a nine-day vacation with my parents and for getting the Turkmenistan visa. The latter – transit for just five days – is now in my passport and I’m back in Mashhad. Ahead lies a 500 kilometer desert stretch of land to be crossed in those five days. Worse than that stress is to leave all the great friends I’ve found in Iran – most of them in Mashhad and Tehran where I’ve spent about ten days each. In Iran you are part of the family as a guest and, if you don’t think twice, you might find yourself with a family of your own, too! I have a lot to think of during those five days in Turkmenistan; a lot of friends that will occupy my mind. The down part of meeting someone is, of course, that you’ll have to say goodbye. My weakness.