Friday, 26 October 2007

Day 156 - Darab

Well I have said my farewells to Andre and Judith again, so I am alone once more.

Leaving Shiraz was a breeze, flat and fast, but nothing much to see other that a salt lake. The road hugged the shore for about 30km and by the end of it the novelty had worn off. I guess at times it is full of water as there were boats at various points along the shore, but little sign of water when I was there. I arrived at Sarvestan, my intended destination, at about 14:30 and it seemed way to early to stop, but I did my best to. There were no hotels and as it was a bigish town no suitable places to camp so I went to the far end of town. There was a pretol station and a garage but still nowhere suitable to camp the only good place being a cemetry where I would have loved to have camped but there were 3 men working there with a bulldozer so I decided better of it. By now the wind had got up making it was hard work, but I continued to the next village where I found a really nice little spot by the a stream. Once I had set up the tent the goat herds came past returning for the night to the village and the herdsman stopped for a chat. A lad came over and said I would be cold and invited me back to eat and spend the night in his house, but it was already dark so I decided to stay put. It was a wonderful moonlit evening and a slept really well.

The following day was a short one to Fasa where I expected to find a hotel. Sure enough I did but it was a tourist hotel, with no tourists and very expensive. They gave me directions to the Islami Hotel but when I got there I couldnt see it. On route I was going around a roundabout when a car cut across the front of me, hit another car and instantly stopped leaving me with nowhere to go and I hit it on the side. What seemed like an age later a motorcycle also hit it in the side. The was no damage on my part, even less than when I was hit by a car in Shiraz whilst I was on foot. That left me with a sore wrist for a couple of hours. I seem to be riding my luck at the moment, I feel like a cat with nine lives. I asked around and a motorcyclist offered to lead me there, but we seemed to be heading out of town so I thanked him and returned. Another motorcyclist made the same offer and took me back to the tourist hotel and insisted it was the Islami despite the wrong name on the outside. This scenario continued for over an hour by which time my patience was waring thin. This time I asked a shop keeper and he pointed to it, but I still had time to get a puncture. My half day and relaxed afternoon were fast disappearing. At last I found the hotel but there was nothing in English to suggest it was a hotel and it didnt look like one. I had been there about 3 times and even those I had asked when right outside didnt know about it. Once inside I still had the puncture and the owner insisted on wheeling the bike, but I just wanted to be left alone to do my own thing. Before long the puncture was fixed and after a hot shower on loose floor tiles that squelched when walked on I felt much better. The hotel was a dive, the worst I have stayed in and by far the cheapest as I refused to pay his asking price. Before long I was brought a pot of tea soon followed by a box of dates and wafer biscuits. I was invited into the owners house which was next door and introduced to his wife. I was somewhat surprised that she didnt have a scarf on and there was cleavage on view, very un-Iranian. She put a scarf on and brought more tea and a bowl of fruit. She asked if I was angry and I explained that I had been a bit wound up, but over the evening she kept asking if I was angry, then I realised that she was asking if I was hungry. I was invited by them to a wedding party that evening but I told them I had nothing suitable to wear but Ardalan offered me his clothes but I still turned down the offer saying I was too fat. At 6pm some of the family returned and I was introduced to them all and photos were taken and little movies shot, I must be better looking than I thought! They wouldnt let me go out on my own as in their opinion it was too dangerous, so I was taken by taxi to and from the internet cafe, all paid for by them and given dinner on my return. By the end of the evening I felt terrible that I had negotiated such a low price for the room.

This morning was more of the same. I had breakfast with Ardalan and his wife Maryem, whilst their little daughter still slept. When I went to leave they wanted to show me around Maryem`s mothers house and I was given apples, and prayer beads. I took a couple of photos before I left but their daughter Melica did not want to be photographed, so gave a doll to be in the picture instead. Ardalan showed me the route out as I followed him on his motorcycle. When we said our goodbyes Ardalan was in floods of tears, but I didnt find it embarassing and gave him a hug. He insisted on giving me his sunglasses as I left so I gave him mine in return and he was delighted. They are a wonderful family and once again the hospitality is just fantastic, they just want to give so much.

Today has been an easy ride to Darab, but it was deja vu all over again as I found a tourist hotel in the same chain as yesterdays and struggled to find anything else and once again motorcyclists led me on a merry dance. One hotel I did find was terrible and made yesterdays look really good. It was full of young men and I had to share a room and they all surrounded me. I felt I needed some space tonight so reluctantly went back to the tourist hotel. I have too much money left anyway and it cant be changed back so I thought I might as well use it rather than spend the night in a real dump.