IRAN 2003

PAKISTAN2        IRAN         TURKEY

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Map of Iran

The lads who offered us accommodation were working on the road and had rented one of the empty shop lots which was just a bare floor and a curtain for a door but as with our soujourn in El Cerito in Argentina it was a welcome bed for the night. Needless to say we were the centre of attention and as the evening passed more and more workers dropped in to look and just sit around. One who was a foreman seemed to know what he was about and said there was only another 25 kilometers of bad road left and that we would make Quetta in 6 hours. By now the weather had cleared and it was a beautiful evening but was too late to head out again so we settled for the more interesting time with the people there sharing a meal they cooked for us and at first light made our way to Quetta. The road was exactly as the foreman had said but the 25 kilometers threw up plenty of slow going with more mud and rivers.

From Quetta it was still over 600 kilometers to the border so we took it easy and broke the journey at a town called Dalbandin. The journey there had been hot with the temperature gauge nudging 50 as we crossed the desert landscape and as we pulled into town a sand storm brewed up. There was no air conditioning in the room and the heat that night meant we got no sleep. It was these sort of conditions coupled with intense heat and no place to stop to eat along the way that made this section tiring. At the border with Iran the temperature gauge registered 56.5 as the bikes were parked in the sun while we were at customs. Crossing into Iran was an interesting experience as at a check point only a couple of miles in, a soldier standing at my shoulder stared firing his machine gun at a car crashing through the barrier. I thought it was a car back firing but the broken glass on the road and the screeching tyres of the car as it sped away made me realize differently. It was a surreal experience as no one seemed to pass it too much heed nor was the fleeing car pursued. It made us think twice though about stopping at their checkpoints.

As with the desert section of western Pakistan, crossing Iran was tiring for the same reasons of intense heat, and no really suitable places to eat during the day. By the time we reached our destinations at evening time the hunger was often off us with the result that we only nibbled at the food thus making each subsequent day progressively harder. To confound matters further, Johns bike was acting up with dirty petrol which saw us stopping a number of times on a roadside with absolutely no shade from the glaring sun directly overhead. The transit visas gave us seven days to cross the country and we made heavy going of it taking six of them in the end. Iran is a vast country and we obviously only saw a part of it. The first half of it that we crossed from east to west was desert and beyond Teheran it gave way to progressively more agricultural land. We were often too tired to explore the towns we stayed in but some of them do stand out in the mind and as we progressed further north west each passing day saw us coping a little better so that our energy returned. We had taken to buying fruit to carry with us and we did stumble upon a couple of places where we were able to eat during the day.

One of those towns that stand out was Yazd. It had an absolute labyrinth of bazaars some of which dated back to the 12th. century and where you could wander for hours watching people still at a way of life that has essentially remained unchanged for generations. The town also had an old section of mud bricked houses that still retained the ancient air conditioning towers i've only ever seen elsewhere in Dubai. Teheran, the capital, struck us as the most cosmopolitan town we had come across in ages and was far less dominated by fundamentalism than those we had come across in the towns of the south east. At no stage in any of the cities did we see any sign of the student riots reported but as with any dictatorial regime there is an undercurrent of weariness amongst its people. The journey through the later half of Iran was far less endurious as the temperature dropped to the mid 40s and below and the excellent roads were always in our favour so that by the time we reached the Turkish border we were in far better condition leaving the country than entering it.

PAKISTAN2        IRAN         TURKEY

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