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On Wheels

Iran - Tehran to Astara with a VIP stop in Rudsar

IRAN | Tuesday, 17 July 2007 | Views [3466]

Arrived in Tehran around half-passed noon, it was hot and humid. I couldn’t see the sea anymore; I needed to find another a way to refresh myself. Called Koosha to get his friend’s number. Got the number and called; a voice on the other side said: You must be Rodrigo! Should I g o pick you up? I took a taxi and got to Shafar’s house. I had no idea who Shafar was; I only knew he was Koosha’s friend – no need for more. Got some bread, cheese, and a coke for lunch. At the 16th floor, someone waited for me at the end of the hall: Rodrigo! He said with a Spanish accent and a big smile. We got inside, met his friend, Reza Sharif, a business man, and got some coffee to start out chatting. He put my bread and cheese away and ordered some Iranian food. Before the food arrived, two other friends got to his apto, Ali Zangiabad (gold medalist), and Amid Sharif (sports media). We spent the adfternoon asking each other questions. It was a Monday, I thought to be a good day to arrive and get things started, but it was a holiday. We spent the afternoon at Shafar’s apto talking about all you can imagine – sports, politics, economy, Iran, Brasil, and USA, where he lived for a long time, and so did I. About the Spanish accent; well, his ex-wife was Mexican, and he lived in Costa Rica for some time. He is a traveled man and a cyclist, so; we really had lots to talk. He took me out for dinner, lunch, and drove me around to show me the city. We had a good time in and out of his apto. Shafar was a fun and generous man during my stay in Tehran; then, Koosha arrives. Now, it was his time to show Tehran.He took me north and south of the city. We did a lot of walking, visited a few shopping malls, bazaars, and had lunch in a very nice restaurant near the university he works at. A funny thing happened when we were inside one of the shopping mall. We were going up every floor ‘till we arrived at a floor where they only had women clothes, but guys were also walking around there, like any shopping mall. A security guard spot us walking around, took a good look at me, and called us over saying: This is women area, get to the stairs and go down! He pointed to a near by exit. Koosha said something, but he just pointed to the exit and asked us to go. Later on, Koosha was laughing saying that it all happened because of my pants. Yap, my pants! He said I looked like a Kurdish man (northwestern area of Iran, border with Turkey), and it was not a very welcome thing in a women department or even around the city. After that I did realize that ppl were actually checking me out, looking at my pants, and then; looking up to my face. It did not cause any problem, or made ppl treated me in a rude manner, but they sure looked at me in a different way – like I was some sort of gipsy…well; I am not very far from being one! Next day, I spent the day at the apto working on my diary and photos. Later in the evening, Koosha came back from the university and took me to his friends house, where I spent my last 2 night in Tehran. His friends, former classmates and campus’ friends were very fun. The first night, we had the students’ specialty any where in the world – spaghetti. It was delicious, and prepared differently from what I was use to…you can find it on my pictures. We exchanged some music, watched a movie, did a lot of talking and laughing, and back I was to Tchaloos. Got the bike back; plus, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, bananas, and a whole watermelon . . . I swear I tried, but him and 3 of his friends would not let me pay. They put my bike outside, hung the bags on the handle bar and told me to go, saying: when finished (the food), come back here! Laughing, they waved me goodbye. I got back to the same camping ground I had spent 2 nights before I went Tehran, but was stopped at the entrance and asked to pay. A boy who spoke English helped on the translation. The security guys at the first time were being nice to me, but now; I did have to pay to stay there. I turned my bike around and went on looking for a place to camp by the beach. The boy kept on following me saying: - Sir, where are you going? Sir, where are you sleeping? Sir, wait for me! Sir, Sir, slow down! I found a place by the beach, set my mosquito net as the usual, on my fishing rod, and passed out. From there on, I was not just a biker on his own; I was an athlete supported by the Iranian Cyclist & Sport Federation. Shafar had arranged for me to meet w/ people who would give me lodge/food on some specific cities. Plus; he got one of Iranian main sport magazines to publish about my journey. (Mr. Sharif, Amid) Next morning I rode to Ramsar city where I was suppose to call Mr. Oshiani, from the Sport Federation. Couldn’t reach him on the phone, so I cruised around the town – got a flat tire. Later on I got Mr. Oshiani on the phone, but there was no one who could speak English on the other side…just some laughing and the phone went off. Kept on riding ‘till I found a park to spend the night. Rode to Rasht, where I had another contact. On my way to Rash, I stopped at Rudsar city – the longest stretch of beach on Iran’s Capian coast. As soon as I stop at the beach, I heard: Rodrigo! Behrooz Gharahgello, my newest best friend. I’ve met lots of generous ppl on my riding in Iran, but I’ll choose Behrooz to be Iran’s representative of “Who Iran is.” This guy had all the qualities of all the Iraninas I had so far met – hospitable, kind hearted, strong, funny, very generous, and…somehow, frustrated with the system, but kept on going. On this last one, sounds like many others you and I know! First night, I had some tea on Behroos restaurant, dinner at his brother’s Kafe, and chatting with Mr. Bastami – an English teacher who owned his own school in Rudsar. Slept on the beach to see the sunrise – it was damn beautiful! During the day, the weather closed; Behrooz kept his shop closed, rented a car, and took me to the hotsprings and mountains around Ramsar. Before we left, he took me for breakfast at this shop where their specialty was goat – young ones! I had goat’s brain w/ bread and tea…oohh man! It was hard to get it trhough! I din’t have my camera…you could see the young horns on the jelly skin that came with the brain…give a sec….I need some water! I’ll tell you what. I can get my way trough any of those TV shows like, survivor, etc…but, the ones they eat bugs, brain, guts, and so on…I have my doubts about my performance. Ok …back to going Ramsar. There, I learned it was one of the former King’s favorite spot. No wonder why! Fifteen minutes from the sea, you arrive at the hot springs; and 20min. more, you are up on the mountains having a tea by small waterfalls or eating salmon from a fish tanks at a local restaurant. (Fish from local rivers) Besides the salmon eating, I did all the above; it just wasn’t lunch time. Spent the afternoon riding around the city w/ Behroozm, and met his Friend Abdullah, a barber – got beard and hair taken care of. Back at the beach, we had lunch with his friends and watched beach soccer. Slept at the restaurant, woke up very early – torrential rain, back to sleep. Around 10am I was having breakfast w/ Behrooz – bread and coffee…yeessss! He gave me a bag w/ canned fish and fruit, and rode with me ‘till the city’s limit where he stopped at a bakery and got me a bag of a delicious Iranian pastry – Pirasky. Rasht was my last big city in Iran, before I rode to Astara - border city.

Tags: On the Road

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