Is Ramadan over? I cant really tell the difference!
Well 5 of us set off from Esfahan together as we were joined by the Dutchmen Erik and Tjeerd. Heading out was straight forward, if a little boring. We were heading through desert so there is no shade anywhere so we stopped for lunch behind a little hill just to be a bit away from the road. A motorcyclists pulled up and asked us to lunch. He said he was from Toudeshk, the village we were heading for so we asked if he knew Mohammed Jalaly. He said he was his brother and that we would see him later on. Tjeerd volunteered to take Andre's trailer for the afternoon and not surprisingly Andre was only to pleased to let him have a go. What Tjeerd didn't realise is that it would be gently uphill all afternoon. Near Toudeshk another motorcylist pulled up and this time it was Mohammed and he guided us to his house which we would never have found on our own. Another car pulled up for a chat and the driver turned out to be another brother. How big is this family? The village was contructed from mud and straw walls and Mohammed's house was a large one (photo). Once we arrived we left our bikes in the courtyard and were invited in to the lounge which had a fire going and we were immediately made very welcome. I struggled a bit to work out who was who as his father and brothers were there, some friends, women and a whole host of children, mainly girls. Mohammed's sister in law slaved away in the kitchen all evening and produced a tasty meal for us and an endless supply of tea and all the men sat and ate together. I never did see the women eat. The lounge had no seats in but there were cushions all around the walls which made it easy to move around and chat to somebody else It made for a great evening. On one side of the lounge was a carpet that was being made and we were given a demonstation of the process. Hours of work had gone into it and everybody knew what to do, even the smallest of the girls. At about 22:00 we were asked if we wanted a shower. Confusion followed due to communication problems as Mohammed said we would all go together, but it turned out that the house had no bathroom, so the communal village shower was used. Once back we were given 2 rooms, whilst the rest of the family slept in the lounge. As with all the other houses we have been in, nobody sleeps on beds, just blankets on the floor.
Thursday started as Wednesday had finished with wonderful hospitality from Mohammed and his family. Once the communal breakfast on the floor was finished we were taken for a guided tour of the village. Mohammed seems to know everybody so we were introduced to them all. To be honest it got a bit frustrating as we had a long way to go and the morning was fast disappearing. In the end I said we had to go but Mohammed still managed to provide us with 7 bottles of mineral water, a pile of bread and a Volvo baseball cap to replace my old manky red one. The hospitality was just fantastic. They have a great desire to host cyclists and motorcyclists that pass through the village and prove to people that Iran and Iranians are not what the press makes them out to be. They would accept nothing and said we would not be guests if they accepted anything from us. The others managed to find some things to give the children the previous evening, but sadly I was a let down. Once on the road it continued to climb. We reached the top at 2327m, then enjoyed the long gradual descent to Na'in, where the mosque we wanted to see was closed. We bought food for the evenings camping and set off through the desert. There was absolutely nothing about so we decided to camp at the first decent campground we could find. Some large building came into view and as we only had about an hours daylight left we went to investigate. It was an old caravanseri, behind which was a small area where vegetables were growing and in front was a sandy area. We were given permission to camp there then went to look inside the old fortified walls next to us. Inside were about 15 camels that were being kept for their meat. We cooked up dinner in the dark, well Andre did anyway, then had a really good evening sat there looking up at the fantastic display of stars. Due to the late start we only managed 80k which left us 140k to get to Yazd.
Friday was my birthday and thanks for all you comments to acknowledge it. Judith, Andre and Erik sang happy birthday to me then J and A gave me a present beautifully wrapped in an old Iran Today and black insulation tape. It was a baseball cap exactly the same colour and make as my old one, they must have searched for ages to find one the same so were somewhat disappointed to see that I was given a new one the previous day. Tjeerd arrived, then he and Erik sang happy birthday, or the equivalent in Dutch. I hate people singing to me so twice in one hour was bad news. They gave me a present too, a little air horn to go on the bike that is really effective. They had some spare to give to children so we all fixed them to our bikes and as people called out to us we returned with 5 airhorns going all at once. Needless to say the whole day we were like a bunch of kids but we had great fun. Thankfully the route was flat so we made good progress. Lunch was great as Tjeerd had bought some eggs that we had boiled, we had a brew of coffee along with a 7.5kg water melon that Erik had been carrying which went down really well in the heat of the day. We arrived at Yazd at about 17:30 just as it was getting dark. The first hotel we tried didn't appeal so we made our way to the Silk Road Hotel. This was much nicer, but full, even the dorms. They had space on the roof, part of which had a carpet and a nomad type covering, so all 5 of us slept there, which was great, even better than camping, but a long walk to the loo during the night. Once we had showered we ate at the hotel and had a 3 course meal, the main course being camel meat stew which tasted rather like beef. The Hotel was a home from home as there were a number of people we had met at the hostel in Esfahan.
The following day we were back to just 3 of us as Erik and Tjeerd were heading of for Shiraz by bus. They had ridden all the way here from the Netherlands but were opting to fly over Pakistan. It seems as though I am the only one that wants to cycle and no, I dont have to prove anything to anybody Nick, it's just want I want to do, thats all.
The last couple of days have been a mixture of chores and sightseeing, or seesiding as Judith called it once. She knew it was wrong but couldnt work out why. We will be here tomorrow too as Judith and Andre have taken there passports in for a visa extensions which they wont get back until tomorrow midday. Yadz has some good things to see (photo) but the old city is what it is famous for. It is the oldest habitated city in Iran and mainly mud brick built. There are wind towers everywhere, which are used for cooling water below ground as well as an ancient and efficient form of airconditioning. We were walking down a quiet but wide street when a taxi ploughed into the bak of a parked car pushing it into the drainage ditch beside the road. The driver just reversed and drove off which I suspect is not the done thing even in Iran. I made me think of the same thing happening as we cycle along as driving standard here are somewhat poor. We are continuing to sleep on the roof even though the Hotel is much emptier now. Last night we were filmed playing backgammon up there as there is some sort of documentary being made at the hotel.
So reluctantly I have made my decision and on Wednesday I will set off with Judith and Andre to Shiraz and from there we will go to Bandar Abbas and get a ferry across to Dubai (United Arab Emerites) where we hope to find a dow heading for Bombay (Mumbai). If as expected that fails we will cycle to Oman and try to do the same from there. If we succeed it will be great fun and a really good experience, but I am being a bit of a pessimist, so I dont think we will be able to, which will mean getting a flight to somewhere. The good thing about this routre is that I can speed more time with Judith and Andre as we all get on very well together. They look after me far too well, they must think I am an old man. Oh I am!
Whilst I have been in Iran I have been trying to find out as much information about Buluchestan as possible. Its an area the covers part of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran and has major problem with drug trafficing. I havent heard any good news from the area other than that you can get a police escort. That would mean about 400k in Iran and 600k in Pakistan through an area where there is very little habitation and therefore little food and water. The police escorts are switched at district borders and involves a lot of waiting around and according to drivers coming the other way is far from enjoyable. The crossing for me would be over a week and involve camping in the middle of nowhere. At best I assumed I would be robbed. Going by bus is also said to be very dangerous and I have heard reports that a Japanese motorist was kidnapped last Monday although I can find nothing on the internet to confirm it.
So the trip will be taking a very large diversion and as stated above could be really good. If I have to fly I will rethink things over again, but it is far too early to make plans yet as it is still about 3 weeks before we reach Dubai.
It will be another week before the next post as I expect it to take 5 days to reach Shiraz and there is little in between here and there and very unlikey to be an internet cafe. For those interested in the photos there as been a whole host of them uploaded.
Thanks again for all your comments and I hope the above puts you minds to rest. Its good to hear from you Gary. After riding The Dean 300 I had a feeling that you would end up riding Paris-Brest-Paris despite you saying it would be your only 300. You had that enthusiasm that suggest you would go on to complete much greater distances. Well done.