Trip Start Jul 01, 2010
Trip End Aug 08, 2011

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Where I stayed
In a rocky canyon

Flag of Iran  ,
Monday, October 25, 2010

My 6 a.m. breakfast-making duty was thwarted by the lack of any burnable wood, but I tried using some stalky plants and paper and cardboard for a while, in the hope of getting some dried dung to light up. I was pretty close but it was all too much effort and taking too long. Out of nowhere a child appeared in front of me, and I saw a distant flock of sheep, presumably in his care. He greeted me and invited us for tea with him and probably his companions. On this occasion, already running a little late and with coffee nearly ready, we declined and I continued with the dung a wee bit (the child annoying grabbing my rocket stove and repositioning it out of my reach to show me how I was doing it wrong, to no avail). At this point I asked for Charlie's petrol burner and things went a lot more smoothly. The kid asked for some money after a while, but wasn't too annoying. Then he went on his way, and not too much later, so did we.

Our final 20 km in Turkey were fairly easy, Ararat sat immobile at our side as we devoured the highway before us. A roadsign caught our glance, announcing "Nuh's Ark" as being several kilometres away, the opposite direction to Ararat. We were a little surprised as we though it was supposed to have come to rest on top of the big one, but in any case we were too eager to get to Iran to stop and check it out.

Before long we arrived at the real last outpost, being the small town of Telceker. A sleepy place, where we wished to offload any Turkish coins that the money changers on the Iran side wouldn't have. A man saw us waiting outside the locked shop and went around the back and after 5 minutes the owner turned up and we stocked up. On junk food, mostly.

Turkey let us go pretty easily, and we crossed the no man's land to the Iranian passport checks etc, after which we were ushered to one side and led to a small Tourism office in a large complex. A friendly man welcomed us and offered advice and information, then we had to go for fingerprinting (which I'd already done in Istanbul, but this time more extensive), wait around a bit and avoid the friendly money changers telling us what the bank would and wouldn't do and at what cost, just to save us the hassle of asking the bank! We were finally let loose on Iran after about 1 hour and sped down the hill into Bazargan, where I noticed an American flavour to the nation's car fleet pretty quickly. 1970s American, that would be. It seemed a lot more orderly than the other side of the border and the terrain markedly rockier right away.

We found a shady spot for a picnic and sat and ate. A woman called from her window in English, asking us if we needed any help. Puppies with their ears amputated, for fighting, presumably, sniffed around us a bit but were no bother.

Then it was time to put in some kilometres, so we headed on again. As we neared the city of Maku, the road took us into a great ravine or canyon, and the city began to splay lengthwards down the canyon, making for a very long city despite its presumably small population. We popped into a CaffeNet (as they call them here in Iran) and I applied for an Uzbekistan visa online. The connection was not speedy, and the owner informed us that the whole city had a single 1 Megabit connection, which is probably less than most people reading this have in their homes. Whilst in town some people remarked to us how they were not particularly happy with the direction things were going in Iran. A little while after leaving the CaffeNet, the owner popped out of a car next to me and handed me my forgotten USB stick. What a saint!

As night was falling we slid out of town and on down the canyon, finding a little access road which led us up the less rocky side of the canyon, and we found a secluded spot and pitched up. The boys voted for a showing of Into The Wild on Leigh's laptop, and who was I to argue. Somehow the topography seemed appropriate.
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Vlad M. on

Aha - an Uzbekistan visa! So you have chosen the northern route after all. Congratulations and best wishes...

ashventures on

Ah well, that was the plan my friend but it may well change in light of my latest post... we'll see.

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