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Iran - Mashad to Quchan

IRAN | Saturday, 7 July 2007 | Views [2762] | Comments [11]

Afghanistan was behind, but not past. Its memory was fresh and very warm. Its people and its nature had impressed and certainly changed me a lot. But now, it was time to enjoy Iran. I had heard from other travelers that Iran was a country of nice people…They were either hiding the truth or choosing the wrong word…I found them to be great people! It might have been the way I chose to take, the day and time I passed or stopped by a place, or just the way I approached people. I was always received with great hospitality and lots of generosity.

Ps.: maybe it was my jersey that says in Farsi and English:

“Energy Hastei Hager Mossalan Most” “Nuclear Energy is Our Certain Right”

No, it wasn’t “only” that. I was treated the same before I got the jersey. But I sure did blend much better wearing that jersey. I got a few ppl approaching me asking me questions in Farsi, but I’ll talk more about that later on.

My first big city in Iran was Mashad – a holy city for Muslins. People from everywhere come to pray at its Holy shrine. Later on my way north, I was to meet hundreds of ppl coming down to their annual or monthly trip to Mashad. I even met a cyclist; an old man traveling from the Northern area of Iran to Mashad.

Coming out from a place w/ no roads, very little infrastructure, almost none sanitation, and very poor people; Iran was heaven. From dirty/dusty roads, open-air toilets, and fours hours of electricity, I went to a smooth flat road, clean & private toilets, and fulltime electricity.

Wait…I’m not complaining about Afghanistan; I’m simply stating the conditions I was before and the ones I found myself from my first step in Iran. Again, I DO love Afghanistan, it is the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen (low on development = high on nature beauty); plus, its people are one of the most people I’ve ever seen…Yes, I know! I said “one of the most…It was the most ‘till I crossed Iran.

Back…Mashad was a treat to my eyes and stomach. All the sudden, I found myself in a first world like city – rich, organized, and developed. Shopping malls, high buildings, paved/signalized roads, and a variety of choices for eating, drinking and killing time – not entertainment - it was still Iran. The entertainment came later, much farther from Mashad where the “holy” feeling allowed a little fun. I spent 2 nights at a guesthouse; it was a cheap hotel where loads of ppl were spending their nights before and after praying. The style didn’t differ much from Afghanistan, a room with a big carpet and a window – no beds.

There, I made a new friend,Kamra Mehrabi, a former boxer who had gone up north to open a business, but it didn’t go as planned, so he returned home, Mashad, and was running an car dealer shop. He was a nice guy, took me around the city, showed me Iranian food, and told me not to go to those shisha/hooka places: It’s a place for bad people! He said. 

Kamra could speak very little English, but I was use to have conversation with people who didn’t know English, but one thing bugged me, and he knows. Every time a car passed by or we passed by a car, he would tell me the price of it in Iran…not a problem; BUT, he would say the first digit and all the zeros after it, one by one, for example:

40000000 = four zero zero zero zero zero zero zero…that was a cheap one, whenever a Mercedes Benz would passed by, I would look up the sky and ask God to don’t let him see it.

I told him: Seriously, we got to work on those zeros! You are driving me crazy! So, we decided that for every 3 zeros, he would raise a finger. It sounded like a good idea ‘till he did it and I went on my head: zero zero zero zero zero zero …I started laughing, and so did he.

My second and last day in Mashad, I went to visit the Holy Shrine (&&&&&&&&&), the reason why so many ppl were there. It was the best religious place I’ve ever been inside. Not only for its beauty, which was outrageously gorgeous and rich, but for the feeling it passed to me.

I’m not what ppl would call “a religious person”; I don’t go and spend time inside churches, mosques, synagogues, temples or whatever term you use for a building where ppl go inside to pray and ask for forgiveness before they go on doing other sins (accordingly to their code of rules). I DO go inside these places, but for a matter of pure interest on its architecture and the meaning it has to its ppl. Don’t get me wrong, I do respect every single one of these buildings…how can someone not do so? It does represent the strength and dedication of its ppl, its history, culture, and certainly where a great part of its tradition comes from (in some cases.)

Inside this mosaic mirrored ceiling and marble walls/floors, I spent around 4 hours sitting and listening to the whispers of ppl sitting on the floor reading the Koran. Even with the constant movement of the crowd, and its reflection on the ceiling, which created a continuous movement of black and white pieces on a mosaic, the atmosphere was a cool, fresh stillness.

Differently from the other “buildings” I’ve been inside, this one kept me there for hours, sitting, closed eyes, and an inner peace that I seldom feel – it was a great experience. I just can’t get it on words; it’s something like a very clean happiness if there is such thing. It is sort of the same feeling of being up very early in the morning, in a very peaceful place, waiting for a sunrise. Of course, this kind of feeling comes in different ways for different ppl…it just had never come to me inside a religious house. I’m sure many of you have been or experienced places and feelings like that; if not, you should look for. You don’t have to come to Iran or wake up everyday at 4am waiting for something magic to happen, but you should know when it arrives, and when to stop and enjoy it.

After my pleasant afternoon at the Holy Shrine, I made my way to the hotel to get things ready for an early start next morning to Quchan – 125km

About 4 hours later, on the road, I stopped at PRANA restaurant – a fast food restaurant mid-way between Mashad – Chenaran. I went in for a can opener, so I could eat a can of mandarin oranges given by the US soldiers in Afghanistan. Got it open, went out and sat on one of the outside tables. Five minutes later, comes Ali Hasanzadeh and his beautiful wife, Mona Rajpoori. They had on their hands a tray with bread and cream cheese…here, Iran gained my hearth…didn’t stop there… a salad, olive paste and a Pepsi came right after…not enough? Here they come again, another tray with hot water, sugar and coffee…and when I thought it was a lot, they came back to chat bringing a bag of cookies for the road. Mona spoke English, so we had a short chat, a couple pictures, exchange emails, and they politely excused themselves to let me go. Our chat gave me time to rest before getting back on the bike, when I did, the feeling was of such gratitude that I couldn’t hold but to ride hard and fast. I was feeling very hyper, I couldn’t stop smiling and repeating to myself: How can they be so generous?

From the border to Mashad, I had been given food and attention; in Mashad, MMMM was very kind and generous; now, this …It was just the beginning of Iran, and I had already experienced exhilarating feelings…Iran was showing me its reality. I was certain that my time in this country would be a great experience.

Great roads, warm weather, and very hyper, I made to Quchan faster than I thought. Arrived at a park where lots pf ppl were having picnic (Iranians do a lot of it). Those ppl were coming or going to Mashad. Most of the ppl I met on the road from Mashad to Bodjnur were families coming or going to their monthly/annual trip to the holy city.

At the park, surrounded as usual, I met a university student, Amin, who invited me to stay overnight in his house. There, I met his roommates and friends, Amir and Mehdy; they prepared a delicious dinner, we had tea, exchanged music, talked about our countries, and Mehdy and I exchanged soccer jerseys. I gave him a Brazilian one and he gave me a local soccer team’s jersey. He came out his room to show me his jersey and before he asked I said the word: exchange…he smilled, yes! I opened the jersey and saw the slogan written in Farsi and English, and thought: “Yes! This is the right jersey to be riding in Iran” (the one I mentioned at the beginning of this story) he was quite happy to get a Brazillian jersey, and I was damn happy to have a jersey that would surely get a lot of ppl happy to see me or at least get some ppl laughing at it.

Next morning, wearing my new jersey, we had breakfast, and I got on the road to Bojnurd – 120km.

Things got even better…5km before Bojnurd, I stopped at Baba Aman Park, a camping area with beautiful water fountains/falls. There I met Behrooz, a former seaman who had been in Santos, Brazil…

To be continued



Tags: On the Road




Thanks a lot for your reports. Besides of taking care of your trip and every challenge you are facing, you still find time to update us. OK, probably it has taken around two zero zero minutes, but you always have done that. :)

Take care, Rick

  Rick Jul 8, 2007 10:20 AM


Maybe I have not met you yet, but I have met Richard in Vancouver, BC, Canada and we always update
Our info. about you and your trip.
When I read about your experience in holly place in Mashhad, just you took me from Vancouver to that 4 hours you been with those moments. You know that you don’t have to be religious guy to enjoy. This experience you had it was exactly my feeling when I use to go there, maybe in your age.
Now I am far away from my land with its all bad and
Good, for almost 17 years and even I can’t go back, you took me there.
Thanks for that

  Eddie Jul 9, 2007 4:24 PM


i've really enjoying ur stories and photos
it is very different from what i've known from TV
and experiences u've been through is quite cool!
expecting ur next update already......
take care !!

  Grace Jul 9, 2007 5:43 PM


Hi Rodrigo,
I really love following your trip! Please, keep writing in details, so we can thing we are riding with you in your bike. Hope to hear from you soon.
Love, Gilka

  Gilka Jul 10, 2007 9:29 AM


So,so, I should stop reading this because is 9pm PDT and I am still working. What's wrong with this picture? Anyway, I miss you a lot and you know, you are all jealous. We are living thru you.

your sista sola;)

  sola Jul 10, 2007 1:56 PM


Hi,how are you? I dream that one day I will travel like you.I love to do it also.You very strong man.

Wish all best to you and don't forget come to visit thailand.

I will read your story untill you finish trip :)

Take care,

  Nok Jul 11, 2007 5:03 PM


hi rodrigo. i am kamran.how are you? where are you now?and what are you doing?please give me pm on my id too give my tell number.because i want to call with you.thankyou. bye

  kamran Jul 15, 2007 3:03 AM


didn't really our city (shirvan,betveen ghouchan and bojnourd) worth to not mention in your notes
i am upset that you quickly forget my gift(quran).
bye ( with moist eyes)

  javad jahani Sep 12, 2007 12:21 PM


My sisncere apologies to you Javad; Shirvan was a quick stop to eat my watermelon :)
I wish I had more ttime to tell everyone about every single city I pass by. About your gift;NO, I didnt forget and trully appreciate as well as your kindness asking me to go have lunch with you, but...always on the move!
I loved your gift and I am glad to have met you.
Take care Javad

  mutt Sep 12, 2007 11:33 PM


My mother is from Quchan, and so I really enjoyed reading about your experiences. It's funny, because the way you describe Iran reminds me of Mr. Sinai's four hour long documentary about the 500,000 Polish refugees residing in Iran during WWII. Iran was the home of around one million refugees from Europe, including many Jews. And in this documentary, all the refugees describe the generosity and hospitality of the Iranian people. One of them said that it was like arriving in heaven when they crossed the borders in to Iran, leaving fascism, hate and racism behind them. Even though there was famine in Iran, even the poor would give whatever they had to the refugees.

  Shahram Jan 13, 2008 2:32 AM


Middle 1960s I spent two years working on a project in the mountains near Kapkan and Quchan, Iran. Often travelled the narrow, dusty dirt road all the way from the border to Mashad . Local people and soldiers were were wonderful to live and work with. I suppose the project went away when the shah did.


  Ima Wanderer Jun 20, 2011 12:57 AM

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