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Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category

On the Way…

In Asia, Iran, Pakistan on November 13, 2002 at 7:09 pm

Sorry for the short message but it’s just to let you know that I am indeed alive.  At this moment we are waiting for our Pakistani visas to be issued by the most annoying consul yet.  If everything goes according to plan we should be in Taftan, Pakistan this evening.  By far this is the most exciting part of the trip and I am totally ready for whatever craziness and mayhem it has to offer.  I’m getting frustrated with trying to book a flight out of India, everything requires a faxed confirmation and other faxes of copies of copies of stupid things but I will be leaving Delhi around the 5th of December.

The time in Iran has been good although I am very ready to leave.  The scarf is oppressive in the heat and a pain when I’m trying to set up my tent.  On the other hand I have almost had my fill of army and guns and tanks and all that fun stuff.

We’re pretty much driving full-tilt during the day to make it to each city due to tribal conflicts and all that chaos.  We will be in those cities each night behind military compounds or secure campgrounds.  Once I reach India I’ll be phoning you from Amritsar so you can hear my voice and cry at the sound of the beauty of it 🙂

I’m loving this trip, can you tell?

There Are Computers in Iran!!!

In Asia, Iran on October 31, 2002 at 7:03 pm

Yes, it’s true.  Iran truly is a progressive country and there are functioning computers.  In fact, the internet connections are probably the best here.  So in case you haven’t guessed, we are now in Iran.  Eric has put up some beautiful photos on the site so have a look and be very surprised.

We crossed the border last Friday in one hour and ten minutes, a record for anyone who has ever tried crossing from Turkey.  That includes bringing Eric across who was taken into a private room for questioning but made it out alive after two minutes of ‘Hi – how are you, do you love our country?’.

So far we’ve been stopped a number of times by the police and military, but mostly because they have no idea what to do with us.  Tourism is so low because of 9/11 that we we’re only the second overland truck to cross into Iran through Turkey this year.  When the military spots us now, they are really at a loss as to what they are supposed to do.  However, they treat us with respect and are more curious about us than anything else.

One night we stayed at the Caspian Sea.  When the locals found out we were in the neighbourhood, they all showed up on their motorbikes just to look at us.  Some had never seen foreigners before so they just sat and watched while we ate dinner.  The next morning when we woke up someone had brought us fresh bread for breakfast.  This was after we had dinner with a French arms dealer.  Don’t ask me how we meet these people, but I have no objections to getting to know the types you only see in movies.

Anyways, we’ve been hanging out in Tehran for a few days and although it’s a big city, I haven’t done much sightseeing other than to visit the former U.S. embassy which is now affectionately known as ‘the U.S. Den of Espionage’.  It’s pretty interesting to see all the propaganda painted on the walls outside – it’s in total contrast to how the Iranian people really feel towards Americans.  They are always trying to reassure us that they love all North Americans and do not necessarily hold the same views as the government.

So now that I’m here, you’re all probably wondering the same thing – what’s the traffic like?  Haha, I know you’re more interested in the head scarf thing but I really do have to address the whole manner of driving here.  It’s the most chaotic thing I have ever seen in my life.  It’s the funniest game of chicken between pedestrian and driver – the pedestrian knows he’ll lose yet persists in standing there til the car swerves around him.  Today I tried to play the game and almost won against a Peugeot until Adam freaked out and pulled me back.  A red light at an intersection appears to mean that if the red light applies to you, quickly turn right or left into oncoming traffic.  All cars drive without the following three things:  headlights (hot pink do not count as you can barely see them), a clutch, and windshield wipers which is not such a big deal unless it rains like it did all day yesterday.  Arnout also pointed out that there is no such thing as sideview mirrors, probably because they’ve all been knocked off at some point.  I won’t even start on the phenomena that are motorcycles.

As for the head scarf, I actually do not mind wearing it except when I am pitching a tent.  Then it just gets in the way and nailed into the ground about 2 times before I start screaming and then one of the guys comes and finishes up.  It’s also a pain when you are in a hotel room without a private sink and must put the thing on to go outside to find a place to wash your face.  For the most part however, it’s not all that noticeable and one added bonus is that it catches the food that misses my mouth and provides a snack for later on.

So there you have it, about six days in Iran and I can’t find a single thing wrong with it.  I’m glad we’ve added an extra week on because there is so much to see and we probably won’t get to half of it all.  In fact, I’m willing to bet that most of you would actually enjoy it here yourselves.  Just stop watching the news and check out Eric’s website to see how beautiful it really is.

This Saturday is 7 weeks on the truck and we are all still getting along like best pals.  The only person I’ve had to punch thus far was a dirty old cab driver in Lebanon.

That is all for now.  Iran wants me to tell you that it loves you all!!

(check out more photos of the Alborz Mountain entrance here…)

Almost There…

In Iran, Middle East, Turkey on October 24, 2002 at 6:57 pm

Ishak Pasa, building completed in 1784. Dogubayazit

Right now I’m in an internet cafe in the frontier town of Dogubayazit, waiting to drive to the Iranian border early tomorrow morning.  The town we’re in right now is a beautiful place 35km from the border.  Unfortunately due to current events there is no tourism and it appears that the townspeople are suffering for it.  If you want to know what there is to see around here, there is always Mount Ararat which is really quite spectacular. In fact all of Turkey is amazing.  I prefer the Eastern part to the Western as its not so touristy and the people are unbelievably kind and generous.  The scenery is beautiful as well.  This morning when I got out of bed I could look through the mountains and see one of the ranges in Armenia.  It’s so weird to be on the other side of the world seeing stuff I’ve only ever read about.  Tomorrow is the day I’m looking forward to the most.  (Read a longer version of the story here…)

We have to leave early as crossing into Iran often takes no less then 6 hours of hassle, waiting, and having the truck searched.  It will be the first time we’re all separated from Adam as he has to cross the truck alone.  I’d have to say he is the first person I’ve ever had to trust with my life, literally, and not having him in view means I’m going to have to take care of myself.  Not that I’m complaining, but it has been nice thus far having others do all the thinking and planning for me.  Anne will be with us though for the whole customs thing which is nice since she’s done it a few times before already.

Eric, the American, finally got his visa today which is right at the last minute and highly unusual as no Americans are getting in at the moment unless they are with a commercial tour group.  My visa experience was a hassle but nothing compared with his.  The Indian visa was also a little frustrating but its all sorted out now.  We’ll get the Pakistani visa at the border when we get there.  While we’re in Iran and Pakistan all the Brits will tell people they are Australian and Eric will have to be Canadian.  I must say that I enjoy this as that just adds one more wacky element to the equation.  Today I’m also trying to book my flight out of Delhi back to Amsterdam.

And today is the last day for about 4 weeks that I can walk around with my hair showing.  Tomorrow it goes under wraps until we reach India which is probably a good thing since it’s looking kind of ratty right now. Apparently I have very Arabic features so when I’m dressed up in my hejab, most people think I’m from this region which leads me to believe that we are descended from Ishmael.

Anyways, I must go now.  Thanks to my number one gem of an email writer, Andrew.  A close second is Seraphina whose emails I have enjoyed immensely.  Mom and dad, I’m a little disappointed in your lack of parental affection via the internet.  Even Auntie Rhonda writes to me more than you do.  Does this mean I have to sleep on the couch at Christmas time?

Alrighty then,  that’s it from Turkey – more to come later from wild areas of the world!!!!