We have been inaccessible lately, because unfortunately in Iran all blogs, facebook and other websites where opinions are shared are blocked. Of course there are ways to get around that, but with the bad internet that we have had in most places, updating the website was not likely.
Iran; a whole different world!
We have entered a completely different world in the last four weeks. A world in which the Mosques are decorated with super beautiful mosaics, the people are incredibly sweet and curious and where we can not read the signs, because they have their own characters (Farsi). The cars are different too. There are Saipas everywhere (being made in Iran and probably as strong as the Chinese quality 😉 There is really no Toyota to be found ;-(
The children are very curious and of course come to the car. It is different here than in Africa. They do not stand up with their hand ‘Give me money’, but with a sign with cream bags for us on the road. Yes, we are sometimes stunned and clearly have to get used to the transition and this hospitality.
Back in time
It is also as if we are going back in time. Maybe as it went with us in the 60s. Families were all crammed into small cars for a holiday in their own country. Their whole have and keep on the roof of the Saipa. No chairs or tables, but a rug to picnic and a tent where the whole family sleeps in the evening. The Iranians picnic and sleep everywhere; along the road, under the traffic sign, along a stream, on the emergency lane, at parking lots and in parks. It is still vacation period when we travel through Iran so we regularly have to wake up the next morning and we are built in by the tents.
Camping life in Iran
Many of the parks in cities are, just like the Iranians, also an ideal way for us to stay. It is secured, there is water and there are toilets, there are often a lot of other people and it is free! Everyone thinks the car and especially the tent are very interesting, so it’s a coming and going of people who have a chat, want to practice their English and want to take pictures with us and the car. They come to bring us regular food and invite us to stay with family in other cities. they are incredibly hospitable people and so it happens regularly that we do not even have the time to make our own food, but that people come to eat from all sides; BBQ skewers, bread, watermelon, sweets, tea with dates etc. In one of the parks we are awakened at 7 o’clock by the security guard who brought fresh bread for us.
Wild camping and tea at the beekeeper in the valley
Unbelievably special, but of course it is sometimes nice to no one around you with a bit of privacy, so that the headscarf can also be finished (and not in the tent 😉 we can take a lovely shower or just a book. reading, without being constantly photographed. There are plenty of places between cities. In the mountains, on a belated road, in a valley. In the evenings it cools down a lot, so we have already used our new bedroom inside the car regularly!
We pass mountains with beautiful views and come back to special places. For example, we think we have found a late place one night, the next day a car will be driven to and from a tent not far from us today. His father lives there and is a beekeeper. Aha that explained all the bees and wasps near our camp 😉 Of course we are invited for tea in his cabin and for safety we get the bee suits to walk from the car to the hut. We get back on the road with a pot full of honey.
Visiting the Iranian police
We have also learned that you can not just ride any path in Iran. We thought we would drive a nice 4×4 path on a mountain with beautiful views and probably somewhere a nice wild camping spot. Unfortunately, at the top of the mountain, there was a complex where we could not fully put the goal, but we were pretty sure that it would not be convenient to camp in the neighborhood. When we decided to go back and get on the highway again we soon saw a police with a stop sign. ‘That’s for the truck that drives next to us’ we thought. But the moment we drive through, we see them running like crazy to the car and chasing us at full speed. Oops 😉
Of course we stop immediately, but they do not speak a word of English. Not being charmed by the fact that we have driven through, Roel’s driving license is confiscated and we have to follow them to the police station. There, with the help of an Iranian who is taken out of the village and speaks English, it is clear that we have entered a military zone. They want to see all the photos we have made there, but fortunately do not delete anything. Our story they believe after, some friendly laughs, sorry, sorry, we are not tourists spies and luckily we can go again soon. For us so no more lonely roads with vague signs in the Farsi 😉
Safety in Iran
If you tell people that you are going to Iran, safety is often the first thing to worry about. We can insure everyone. It is really different from what happened to the media. For us, this country (together with the emirates and Oman) feels like one of the safest countries we have been to. Yes, they have some neighboring countries that are not very good, so we have also seen military posts. Some where tanks with cannons are aimed at Afghanistan and Iraq. We also see the necessary checkpoints of the security police, and especially the innocent speed cameras of the traffic police and in the cities the vice squad that supervises the wearing of the headscarf.
Old cities, bazaars and special mosques
Our route from Bandar Abbas in the south brings us past ancient cities in Iran. We keep surprising ourselves over the beautiful mosques. We wander around the bazaars (covered markets) and in old villages that are built from mud. We drive through the mountains and see orchards full of pomegranates, peaches and melons. Haha we have never made so many watermelon shakes in our lives. We pass salt plateaus and end in the capital Tehran where we have great difficulty finding a camping spot. According to the locals, the parks would not be safe and the hotels we find are very expensive. Fortunately we come across Gerard during one of the trips to the palaces and museums. A Dutchman who travels through Iran for 2 months and stays in a nice hotel in the middle of the city, with private parking spaces where we can camp! In Tehran we pass the former American embassy where nowadays many anti-America slogans and texts stand up.
It is very nice to spend a few days in Teheran to explore the city and to go for the second part through Iran to Damavand; the highest mountain in Iran and the Amalut valley; a green area full of beautiful views and small villages.