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On Wheels

Iran: Bojnurd toTehran

IRAN | Friday, 13 July 2007 | Views [2392] | Comments [1]

On my way to Bojnurd, I met Ahmad Isatolah, a cyclist coming from Northeast of Iran, heading to Mashad by bicycle. He was as surprised and happy as me to meet another biker. He couldn’t speak English, and my Farsi is as good as my Russian - none. We gestured a lot and managed to understand each other enough to exchange our names, emails and phone numbers; as well as, tried each others water mix. He had something to drink that tasted a little funny, but again; my Gatorade (given by Capt. Mike Blanton) must have tasted the same to him. We took a couple pictures, one which he’s showing me what’s the strongest sport in Iran – wrestling. He must be around his 60’s, but had no problem on lifting me up and holding me on his back for a shot. I doubt I could do the same to him. Have a safe ride Ahmad… About 15km away from Bojnurd, I stopped at a small roadside hospital to get some water for my coffee. I was told by two guys who lived in the back of the hospital that about 5-8km ahead I could find a very nice park to set camp, eat and sleep. At first I wasn’t very interested on stopping before my plans, but as soon as I arrived at this park I changed my mind. It was called Baba Aman Park, a place where lots of Iranians spent holidays or just an evening before going to Mashad. I arrived after sunset, so the fountains were fully lit. Colorful lights would go on and off illuminating the water springs. Tables, benches and very tall trees were surrounding every fountain; I counted 6 big fountains and 2 small falls. I stopped by a table, got my dinner done, moved to upper and more isolated area to set my tent and spent the night listening to waterfalls and crickets. Next morning, I decided to spend the day at the park and ride to Bojnurd in the evening – I met Behrooz, things changed. After lunch, I got back to my tent to find a park staff and another guy looking at my bike; I approached, they introduce themselves, and told me I should move from there ‘cause it wasn’t a very safe place. I asked why: Ali Baba! Said Behrooz, laughing. They wanted me to move my things closer to the restaurant, where Behrooz had a small shop. I thanked, but I wasn’t going to spend another night there. Behrooz spoke English, so we spent the afternoon talking about the time he was a seaman; his fun-time in Brazil, and my fun-time in Iran. He took me up the restaurant, his brother’s, and we had a tea. The restaurant was in a higher ground, and a deck had been built to get a larger area for customers. It was about halfway to those tall trees – they were veeery tall! We went for a walk, came back in a great mood for another tea, and to meet some of his friends. Behrooz went back to his shop for a while and I stayed up there enjoying the fresh air, the beautiful view and the company of an old man singing and old Iranian song which I recorded the whole thing. About 700km later, I was told that the song’s lyric was talking about all he wanted to give were his love, his friendship, his heart…it sounded beautiful just to hear and see him singing; the meaning just confirmed its magnificence. I feel truly sorry for not remembering his name, but I sure remember him and how pleasant it was to enjoy my tea by the trees, listening to an old Iranian song. Whenever I can, I’ll post the audio file on my web. I also recorded the calling from the near by mosque. It is another audio file you all must listen to. On both recordings, you can hear birds on the back ground…ohhh, on the song’s recording; you can hear the stir of a spoon – sorry, I needed sugar. Behrooz came back with his brother, the restaurant’s owner. They brought some more tea, bread, and for the first time, I tried Iranian cheese – a delicious white cheese. Evening was coming, the weather turned and the wind blew stronger with some light rain. I decided to stay the night there and leave in the morning. I was ready to sleep on one of those typical Iranian café’s table – a carpeted raised base with big pillows, but Behrooz brother came and told me to follow him; I did and he took me to the back of the restaurant where he had cabins for tourists who wanted a room. He put me in one of those rooms, a very nice one; you can see how pretty his cabins are on my pictures. Early in the morning I was on the road to Gorgan – 114km. The way to Gorgan was a little tough, the wind blew against me, and the roads were in construction; I had a single lane to share w/ fast drivers and heavy loaded trucks. Stopped a few times to pick peaches, berries, cherries and oranges, but the oranges were too bitter, its season had already passed. Arrived in Gorgan in the evening, around 830pm. Asked for a park to sleep, but when reassuring my directions to the park at a mosque, the security and the police insisted that I slept at the mosque, where lots of ppl were already sleeping, so I did. One of the policemen who were watching over the mosque wouldn’t stop laughing, hysterically. I looked at him and his eyes seemed to be a little red…mmmm, I’m quite sure he was high. He would look at me, look at his partner and crack himself up …yap, he was high, and I don’t look that funny. I choose the wrong spot to lay my sleeping bag; the sun light would come straight on my face. I was tired, but the heat got me up. Had breakfast and went for a ride around Gorgan. Whenever I go for a ride in the morning, I end up riding all the way to my next stop; I can’t just go for a ride and stay in the same city. Around 11am, I passed by this busy roundabout and decided to stop for a tea with the locals waiting for a break from the heat. I stopped right by this taxi area, where drivers would quarrel about who had the right over a spot or a passenger…like any other taxi driver at any corner of the planet. It was quite entertaining. Passengers were dragged from one car to another. It brought back memories from Nepal/India border, where I sat and watched ppl being dragged to buses, and drivers running with passengers’ luggage, obligating them to follow their luggage to the car. So…At this roundabout, I met Syed, Hassan, Mohamad, Haham and Houssain. Syed took me inside his restaurant and got us a shisha (hooka); while Houssain went back to his ice-cream shop to get me some ice-cream. He prepared the ice-cream in a way it’s usually eaten in Iran – 2 layers of wafers filled with ice-cream, like a sandwich; it was delicious. Had the ice-cream, shisha, tea, and lunch – kebab. Back on the road, I met another biker coming the opposite way; we had a chat, exchanged some info and got back on riding. I was on my way to Ssari (130km), but decided to stop at Banda Gaz and spend one or two nights. Bandar Gaz is a bay on the Caspian Sea; it is a great place to see the sunrise – I did! Got there around 7pm, had a tea, enjoyed a quiet sunset, moved to a shop on the pier, and got my dinner done. The shop owner offered me to sleep by his shop, so I got my mosquito net set and spent the night at the pier. Got up around 4:30 and had breakfast watching a gorgeous sunrise. After breakfast, I decided to change to the same place I was on arrival to sit and spend the day. Bike loaded, I started riding looking for a toilet before I sat to enjoy the day…95km later I arrived in Ssari. As I mentioned before, I can’t just jump on my bike and go for a short ride in the morning. I start going to the town’s center; then, to its limits, and bye bye! Stopped for a coffee, asked how far to Babol – 25km…How about Babolsar? (coast city) – 50km. Jumped on the bike and rode as hard as I could to arrive at the beach before the sun was out. Arrived in Babolsar when the sun was right over my left shoulder. Cruised down the main street, got some bread, and went looking for the beach. Chick chick! Chick chick! He kept on repeating. That was Hazeem, my new friend at Babolsar beach. He and Davud, another great man, ran the only restaurant by the beach. I spent 2 nights there. They were very hospitable, and we became great friends. I made friends w/ all the locals – boat rental guys, horse rental guys, restaurant guys and his friends. Every time I crossed eyes w/ someone, they would scream: Hey! Rodrigo! Or Chick chick! There was Hamzee for sure! First night at the beach, I got to see some youngsters celebrating a wedding. They parked their cars on the sand, got the lights and music on, and started dancing in a circle. It’s funny to watch ppl from different places dancing. Like language, food, religion, etc; dancing changes from place to place. What for us looks just fine – just dancing, for others it might look quite awkward – it looked very funny to me, but I had seen ppl dance eve funnier than that, so…well; it was funny! The girls would stand aside and watch the boys do their moves. The picture that came to my mind was from a National Geographic show about on mate season. Next morning, I had breakfast w/ Davud, and spent the rest of the day around the beach: swimming, boating, and talking to some of Davud’s friends. Later on, one of Davud’s friends came by to meet me, he spoke very good English, and we became very good friends – Koosha. We went boating w/ Davud, who did all the rowing; I tried, but just embarrassed myself. Koosha and I went for a bike ride; we met some of his friends at a near by hotel where we had a tasty Cherry liquor. No alcohol in Iran! Yah, sure! It’s like the Aliens; some people would fight with you saying that there is no such thing, but; we know they are out there. It goes the same for the birds and bees. It just needs to be done in a private and secret way. . .I guess! Don’t take my word as fact of what happens all over Iran. I’m saying that based on what I saw and what some Iranians were saying. I did not see any tiny green man, but I sure saw a few big ones falling drunk... We didn’t stay too long at his friend’s hotel; Davud kept on calling asking what time was I going back to the beach. His friend insisted that I slept that night at the hotel, but I had promised Davud to stay one more night at his restaurant. So, I made a deal; I promised to come back next day and spend one night at the hotel before I left to Tchaloos. It would be good for me, I would use the room to shave and wash some of my clothes. My last day at the beach, I rode around town, took a nap at the park, and watch the sunset over a nice cup of coffee. Back at the beach, I spent some time with Hamzee. He asked me why I had strings on my wrist. (souvenir given by ppl on the way). He gave me his bracelet and said: chick chick! Pointing at some girls passing by. I got my bike loaded, said goodbye to all at the beach, and rode to the hotel – his friend wasn’t there. His older and younger brothers were. The young one knew me from night before, the older one; had no clue who I was or why did I expect to get a free room. Well; the only reason I was there was because I had promised to do so; I could very well had stayed one more night at the beach. They called their brother, and told me to wait. I didn’t want to create any problem or to make a big deal out of nothing, so I excused myself and got on the road. I could have gone back to the beach, but as usual, I always go ahead – no going back! On black pants and shirt, sandals, and a bag w/ food, I rode for about 10kms more ‘till I reached Fereydunkenar town. Stopped near a restaurant by the beach, and set my mosquito net hanging over the bike on my fishing rod – slept at the beach by the water; no hotel would beat that! Next day I rode to Tchaloos – 115km. On the way, I kept beating myself over not taking Koosha’s number and email. We became good friends, and he was a good contact to have once he had friends in Tehran. I was expecting to meet him the night before at the hotel, but things changed?. Call Davud, and ask for Koosha? How would I make Davud understand what do I want?...call Hamzee? Chick chick would be the closest I would get from getting any info. …a guy ahead of me is hitchhiking; first time I see that in Iran. Wait! He’s asking me for a ride; it must be a joke. . . what? No way! Who stands by the road 30km away from Babolsar? Koosha. He was on his way to Nurd, saw me riding, and stopped the taxi to meet me. We went to the beach, had a few laughs, exchange emails, got his number, and planned to meet in Tehran. In a much better mood, I got back on riding, arriving in Tchaloos late afternoon. At Tchaloos, on my way to the camping area, I stopped by a fruit shop to get some shopping done. Some veggies, some fruit, some chatting – Refused to charge me. My first contact in Tchaloos and it was like that…I have not seen ONE single Iranian who has not treated me w/ respect, generosity and kindness – not one! Thanked him and went on to the camping. The second night, I had to find a place to leave my bike while I went to Tehran to get my Azerbaijan visa. I thought of asking the police at the camping area, but on the second day I was called to show my passport, and I didn’t have a very good feeling about one of them. He seemed to be the ONE I haven’t met in Iran. Then, I remembered the man at the fruit shop, he surely proved to have a good heart. I rode to his shop and started telling that I was going to Tehran the next day by bus…he interrupted me saying: - Your bike here! Pointed to the inside of his shop. I didn’t have to ask! Hugs and hand shakes, it was all set. I got some more shopping done; again he refused to charge me. This time I could not accept; he was very generous, but I needed to show some respect and gratitude for his kindness. That was his business! I am on a short budget, but…abusing of ppl’s generosity would sure not get me anywhere. I was on this ride to learn things, and I sure learned that there is time to give and time to receive. Like everything else, a balance is needed. Next morning, I got to the shop around 7am, dropped the bike, and took a bus to Tehran. There I met Koosha’s friend, Shafar – a former medalist for the Iranian Cycling Olympic team. Things went from great to excellent…Shafar, my dear Shafar! To be continued...

Tags: On the Road

Comments

1

Que delícia ler tudo isto!!!!
Rodrido, que aventura!!!! Beijos.
Sara pede pra escreveres pra ela. Tà com saudade, e quer saber quando passarás na Itália. bjos

  gilka Jul 16, 2007 10:34 AM

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