Since the beginning of this journey I feel like an old explorer, like the Aragorn in the Tolkien's stories, just that we don't walk, we ride. Our horses are from steel and our gear is bit more advanced, but we do go to unknown territories , we go east. The morning we left Dogubeyazit for Iran, this feeling appeared again. At the outskirts of the town two big angry evil creatures attacked us. Jaws wide open, teeth looking sharp, barking and running at us. Fear and shock changed us into old warriors. Dusan the brave and Jan the valiant drew their swords and with a combative shout warded off the beasts. Adrenalin run in my blood for the next half an hour!
The border crossing was less romantic. Two hours of bureaucracy and pointless waiting was feasible just because we met three other travelers heading to Iran. The change was noticeable right behind the last gate. Surprisingly even the climate became more pleasant. We definitely left the cold Kurdistan. Everybody is welcoming us. Every single car is greeting us. People shout out of the windows. It's incredible. This is what we needed after the Turkish kids throwing stones at us. We didn't change much money at the border and the time change caused that we missed the banks in Maku. After this beautiful town in a rocky gorge there are just villages so for almost three days we were running on a shoestring budged. Like in the good old days, when we were poor students hitch-hiking trough Europe.
But Iran wasn't just about positive experiences. The lack of privacy is even stronger than in Turkey. People surround us wherever we stop. They are polite, they are nice, but there is no space left between me and Dusan. This is quite tiring. Their English is better, but their understanding is very low.
We also encountered our first technical problems. First my camcorder started to hesitate so some of the best moments couldn't be captured because the picture was shaking. No big deal, but the broken rim on my back wheel was a bit of a surprise.
I mentioned in the part 1 what a trouble I had with wheels, ended up buying the most expensive Mavic wheels day before our departure. After 4000km this "everlasting" super wheel got broken. The rim couldn't last the weight and cracked. For two and half day I went without the back brake and on a shaking wheel, hoping that in Tabriz I'll find a good alternative. Surprisingly it wasn't bad at all. You can get almost anything for bicycle here. Just that they don't always sell you what you need, e.g. I wanted to buy just the back hub. But the Novatec they had could be sold only as a pair. Why? Nobody knows! So I bought just a simple Shimano. Never mind its working good. If I make it with this wheel all the way to India, then the 150 euro Mavic wheel will be beaten by 30$ Shimano. Isn't it funny.
From Tabriz we headed to Iranian Kurdistan. We decided not to go direction Teheran, even though it might have been easier, because it would be more ordinary. Kurdistan sounds good. The choice was well appreciated after few days. Kurdish people are great and the climate is cycle friendly. Boukan seemed just like any other town, that we have passed. But we were wrong. While buying an Iranian scarf (we don't want to look like American bikers) a bunch of people surrounded us as usual. One old man with a decent German invited us for lunch. He turned up to be very noisy, the whole family was quite crazy. But there we met Azad, also a character, but much nicer. He invited us to see his family. Well alright, we stop for a short while. But after an hour or so, he offered us to stay for the night. We gladly accepted. Firstly because of our teeth problems (just during the lunch a half of my tooth felt of), secondly this looks much more peaceful family and thirdly Azad's uncle is an English teacher, so we can communicate. But the lack of privacy that I have been talking about didn't disappear. It even increased together with a total lack of time management. We went to see the dentist. He gave me an appointment at 9:30pm!!! Imagine that! Afterwards they dragged us trough the town, we visited Azad's job, then the German grandpa's job, continuing to bazzar. They introduced us to hundred of people and showed us dozen of shops. Yeah! I don't remember feeling more tired on this trip than today. I asked for a rest, but no, first we have to see the towns view point. The time we came back to Azad's home I was knocked. And of course it was just enough to have a dinner and rush to the dentist. Nobody cares that we are 10min late. We are in Iran.
The next day they offered us to go to see the beautiful mountains, but it's 4h drive so we decided not to go. We rather continue our cycling tour. But what about to see the lake, that's just 1 or 2 hours? OK, that sounds good. The plan was to leave Boukan at 3pm, but it was way pas 4 when we left the town. After 2h of driving Azad asked a Shepard how far it is to the lake. The reply was a shocking 2 hours! This is the theory of FSHE (Iranian word for chaos and freedom in one). We are not going back now... the country is beautiful, hills are high but very dry. The road changed into a gravel track, so for the next hour I felt like in Pakistan. Dusan started to feel sick. After 3 hours we had enough, but what shell we do? 15km before the Marivan Dusan left the lunch on the side of the road and we finished off the trip. The time we reached the lake it was already dark.
We went for dinner and met Azad's friend Hamam. He invited us to stay in his family house. This was the highlight of the trip. He lives with his four beautiful sisters and caring mother in a nice house. Pity that just the teacher speaks English but we entertained our selves with tongue twisters and had fun till late night. Very pleasant atmosphere.
The next day we wanted to leave, but we got invited to see the lake... ended up in Hamam's garden... leaving the town after a lunch... This time we decided not to go back the same way. The road was horrible. Instead we went the longer way trough Sanandaj. Good choice, but the time we reached the city it was dark again. Iranians are crazy drivers and Azad is not an exception, so driving another 3-4hours to Boukan could be quite an adventure. Instead we were invited by another Azads friend and we stayed for the night... this could continue for ever!!! Iranian people are extra hospitable and Azad and his friends are a good example of it. But after four days we had enough. So now you know how a 4 hours round trip to a lake can change into a 4 days journey trough Kurdish families. It was excellent, it was very nice, this is what we wanted to experience in Iran, but we got a slight overdose. We need our privacy, we need our freedom, we want to ride our steel horses and keep on moving east!
N.B. This last part is overlapping with week 8 but for obvious reasons I kept it in this article.