“there is a thin line between being concerned and being scared” some soulwax radio mix..
you find it
This trip has rammed the point home enough times to make me truly believe it that when things are bad, soon they will become good. The problem is it works both ways.
Good: Sitting watching the world cup in a 2.5 million dollar flat in tehran with an art dealer, an artist of national standing, a new york times journalist, a t4 producer, somebody high in advertising here and me, Kris and Adam.
Good: discussing politics with the aforementioned new york times journalist
Good: the view from the balcony over a couple of million people
Bad: going back to our hotel to rejoin the flies and cockroaches
Good: Going out when I would have otherwise stayed in bed to meet two random couchsurfing Iranian Girls who took Adam, Kris and I to the palace of the Shah where we saw a small exhibition about two Iranian explorers who spent 10 years travelling the globe. That and one of the girls was stupidly cute.
Bad: Saying goodbye to Adam and Kris who rushed off with bicycle packed in boxes to start again in India in the midst of a shouting match with the owner of the hotel/scrap metal yard. Best of luck lads, have a curry and a beer for me, stay safe and keep in touch.
Good: Finding a man that could get money out here as no cash machines take western cards.
Bad: Staying awake till 1am to wait for his brother to give me the money which scuppered any plans of leaving the following morning at 5am.
Bad: Cycling out of Tehran. even at the crack of dawn they still drive like they are pissed.
Bad: Going into the desert and realising it will be like this for a looooong time.
Good: Hitting the distance I needed to ride and seeing a sign for a motel
Bad: Motel is closed
Good: Sleep in the garage why dont you? give the afghani 2 dollars for a shower and drink tea with him and his brother. Discuss how the taliban and the us are joined (rub two fingers together in the eastern manner) for the 10th time now… (as an aside i am starting to think there is truth in this… there was the ‘airlift of evil’ and god knows how much opium is coming out through american sources but the opinion on the ground here held by everybody is that the uk and the us are joined at the hip with the taliban. Make of that what you will.
Bad: Losing an incomprehensible amount of fluids through the night (sorry it does not get any better from this point on…) as my tent turned into a sauna
Good: Using the toilet and trying to pay the afghan who stood outside. Turning me away i was confronted with a ‘why do you not have too pay and i do’ from an early morning worshipper at the adjacent mosque
Bad: Finding out that I am dehydrated before I even start cycling
Bad: Drinking 8.5 litres of water and only still just managing to stay in the game
Good: Arriving at a town that has never looked so good, literally an oasis in the middle of a desert. Eating a pizza, meeting an english teacher and drinking pineapple beer until the stomach cramps arrive. I stock up on food and head to the mosque where i have been told i can sleep in the gardens. Upon entering the gardens I find that a dozen coach parties occupy every square bit of space that has anything remotely like shade. Giving up and being lazy I ask if there is a hotel in a nearby shop. The owner shakes his head and walks me back to the mosque.. lo and behold i have my own private room after photos with 5 teenage girls who crowd round me as their father takes pictures…
Bad: Having to get on the bike and leave at 4am as i try and force food down to a place that it does not want to reside
Good: Finding that the shops are open, i can get cold water and see the look of a man who comes over and stares at me like i am utterly insane.
Bad: Realising after 5 miles that the road is going up. And there is a strong head wind. And its hot. How hot? Try 50. Hot enough to breack the speedo. It is that hot.
Good: With a broken speedo you have no idea how slow you are going…
Bad: With a broken speedo in the desert you have no idea when water is coming… That is true fear believe me.
Good: Iranian truck drivers, bless them, stopping and giving me ice cold water, cans of peach juice and water melons. The guy who had recieved a blow out and was sleeping under his truck, for letting me climb under and collapse down beside you, for giving me a cup of the foulest tea i have ever drunk with 7 sugars in and understanding that if i eat any of the food you offered i would vomit… i thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Bad: Cycling through the town i aimed to stop in. Yes, seriously actually going through the xxxxing town and not realising. To this day i will never know how. All I can say is that it lead to another two hours on the bike going up and over the lower mountains that never ended… all of this after being told it was first 6km from water, then 16km.. then just giving up, head down, not even looking at the road, just making sure the white line is on my left, occupying the hard shoulder, breathing through my nose, trying to conserve as much energy as possible and feeling my head slowly go as i sip water and wonder what the xxxx am i doing…. all the time as i dream of ice lollies by the seaside as a child
Good: Reaching a supermarket in the middle of nowhere, walking in and buying an ice lolly and a can of coke.
Bad: Then collapsing outside.
Good: Being allowed to sleep outside the door next to the pet rabbits who where freaking out with the heat
Bad: Being woken up in the night by a little xxxx who wanted to know where i was from…
Good: Finding out that the road did in fact go down and after 40 miles arriving at a mosque where there was a shop that i could buy pineapple beer… then seeing there was only 5km into town
Bad: Dry wretching 2 minutes after drinking the pineapple beer as I cycle into town
Good: Being taken to the most expensive hotel in town by some kind soul, who then told me where the cheapest one in town could be found. Another kind soul took me to the cheapest one. The cheapest one is not open till 2pm… hmmmm try again. Another kind soul then took me to the mosque.. sleep here. Thankyou. After a nap I wake to water melon an english professor an ice cream and a visit from the police. ‘No no everything is ok, we want to help you, understand that we are all brorthers and it is our duty to look after you’. Cue following a small 125cc motorcycle back the way i came to, yes you guessed it.. the most expensive hotel in town where i started.
‘Our instution will pay for you.. we hope you enjoy it here.’ and with that they where gone.
So from being on a bike in the middle of the desert getting very very concerned to recieving gifts beyond simple comprehension.
My head is a mess.
My body is a wreck.
I have 549km to get to Mashhad.
I am still in the game.