And so we entered Iran…
It might be this merry band of party people I’m with, it can be the vehicle I am traveling in, maybe it’s this magnetic personality of mine, but we attract a lot of attention here. As you might have read in Yolene’s story, we got swamped by curious people regularly. Up to the point it gets annoying.
Can people be too friendly, like that guest you brought to your house after that party but now, after a few hours gets under your nerves, was he like that before? Did I not notice this? We’ve been here now for a week and I have to say it is starting to get on my nerves. People see you as an attraction, I know now what the animals in a zoo feel like. The thing is they mean it well, and as I said before, are very polite and helpful but I catch myself resenting the attention, hiding in the truck, starting to react harsh, “can you please leave me alone for one day?”.
I must find a way in this, before I might do something I regret, or god forbid, insult a religious police officer… The knowledge of them being around, actually more rumors than knowledge it seems, also makes you defensive in answering questions from strangers. These moral officers hide among the normal people. Not that I have anything to hide.
The normal police seems friendly, maybe over friendly, as they often worry about our safety. When they tell us no place is safe to spend the night, and the next moment they go out of their way to claim how very safe their country is.
Yesterday we finally had a moment to ourselves. We found a spot in the desert where we were finally able to play some music which was very nice. I won’t say we danced as dancing is illegal here, but finally a private place. Some of our Iranian friends warned us to be very careful with playing music and to keep the speakers inside. Very dangerous, but very weird for us and another reminder of the big cultural difference.
And then there is all these dump trucks, and I mean there are really a lot of them. And yes, Iran has a lot of sand and dirt, I might even go as far as calling it a very dirty country but that would be a joke that translates bad to french so I won’t make it. Luckily they also transport other things in them, like cows and toilet paper. Come to think of it, it’s actually quite smart using dump trucks as it means easy and quick unloading. A lot of these trucks are considered classics in Europe like Mercedes LA series, and also brands you don’t see a lot like Mack. For a truck enthusiast like me it’s a bit like heaven and to celebrate this I’ve started a Truck Porn section here.
Did I mention the Iranian driving style, which is different to say the least. One might even call it efficient, another would call it pragmatic. They will pass you on all sides. Traffic lights are almost non-existent. When there is a traffic jam a four lane road will easily be turned into a seven lane road. You might think that all these things might speed up traffic but, unfortunately, no. They invented speed bumps from hell, I mean, those things suck, big time. You really have to drive over them slowly, really slowly, you go back from 60 to 20, and then you have to accelerate back to 60. Good thing the diesel is cheap or else you might get annoyed by this waste of energy.
Also, just to make things interesting, they fix their vehicles everywhere, and I do mean everywhere, and anything. I spotted two guys fixing a rear bearing of their truck on a mountain road right before a corner. And as mountain roads don’t have space for an emergency lane they were in the middle of the road. Very dangerous for the guys working on the truck as you only saw them as you came around the corner and immediately looked into the back pocket of their trousers. Off course there was oil everywhere so, after they finished, this corner would have been extra interesting for motorcyclists.
Speaking of, about half of them also have their own driving style which is staying in your dead corner as long as possible without lights in the night, dark clothes obviously, no helmet and jumping out at the wrong moment. Good thing I have a strong heart. I haven’t killed one yet…
I don’t think they do any kind of technical control as I saw a lot of vehicles with dodgy lights or shitty brakes. Don’t you just love that metal over metal grinding sound when somebody brakes? We had it in a taxi going down a mountain road…
For Tehran we stayed in a small town close to the city called Lavasan. This was a very nice place to stay. Quiet, clean, perfect. Two Iranians fixed a lot for us here which was a big help I must say. Translating, helping to find services, shops, that kind of stuff. For instance, don’t change your money at a bank, but do it at a changing office or with somebody personal, you get a lot more Real’s for your buck.
We also got invited to a techno party in an apartment in Tehran. And it was a typical party in somebodies home. Normal things going on in the kitchen, a stereo blasting music, lots of people talking, nobody really dancing. You know. This it was a nice experience.
After a few days there we finally headed out for the desert. We found a good secluded place next to the road where we could finally play some music again. I got the chance to record it and if you want to check it, you can do it here.
The next day we got an invitation for a party close by so we decided to take the offer. The meeting point was some old castle in the desert where we got the chance to chill out and talk to a lot of like minded people! This was very enjoyable after all the normal Iranians we talked to. After a good night’s sleep we headed into the desert to the place of the party and obviously got stuck in the sand with our truck. After spending half the day digging it out we didn’t feel like driving to the party anymore but luckily the people from the party arranged a taxi service for us so in the evening we got picked up by a 4×4 pick-up, threw our speakers in the back and got driven to the party. Just before the location we found the Iveco crew stuck in the sand, they made it a lot farther into the desert, but a bit short of the party. This didn’t matter as it was walking distance.
This party was a unique experience for me, although the music was not to my taste, I still enjoyed it very much. And, as we had a chance to play our own music the second day everything worked out perfectly. I would like to write a lot more about this experience but because the people who organize a party take a big risk in a country like Iran, I don’t want to give too much details.
On this note I want to thank all you guys who helped us here in Iran, you know who you are!