Iran is composed of 31 regions, 7 speak Turkish, 2 Kurd, one Arab et the others Farsi. The official currency is the Rial but everybody use Toman and sometimes the change is given with sweets. It’s a bit complicated at the beginning,
We were surprised, even after the Ramadan Iranians live in the night. They love spend time in park and make picnic. Some of them set their tent. We did the same one night in Tabriz.
Our stay in Iran was very interesting. Iranian people are effectively very welcoming ! We met so many people in street or on the road that we have almost never been alone. Among them: Elahe and Saher in Marand, Siavash, Mohamed, Sahar, Sally and Sepideh in Tehran, Khaleg and Navid in Shiraz, Medhi, Niusha in Esfahan and Babak in Mashad and more…
We felt that people are hygienic. Streets, houses and toilets are clean. Tap water is always drinkable. Here, almost no dog. As pork, this animal is considered impure by Islam thus most of municipalities killed them.
We have never eaten as many as fruits than we arrived in Iran. Watermelon, melon, grappe, apricots, plums and apple, everything is delicious! We also tasted numerous specialities often with sheep meat. Nevertheless, Gabriel was victim of food poisoning (with Sepideh) probablyafter eating a not fresh kebab. After one day to vomit and very weak, let’s go again ! However the prohibition, we drank Barak (grappe brandy), homemade wine and beer with strange taste.
Persia is a very historical place. We visited impressive ruins of Persepolis. Some two millennia old reliefs are still in perfect state. Shiraz and Esfahan cities are full of old and beautiful mosques. In Shiraz, we saw the tomb of the famous poet Hafez. More alive, we felt the oriental atmosphere in the bazaars of Tabriz, Tehran and Shiraz.
To discover all of this, we have a one month visa. Unfortunately, we had to use this time to apply and get the visas of the following countries: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan and China. During 10 days we were blocked in Tehran which is not the most pleasant city. As in Paris, we were losing our time in the metro. Here vendors are selling everything: socks, lamp, chewing-gum… A “metro-bazaar”! During our embassies rally, we met some cyclists and Luc who we met in Armenia. They scared us when they said that lot of Turkmen visa were refused. We spent 10 days in doubt to construct second plans to reach Uzbekistan.
Fortunately in Tehran, we found Siavash thanks to Warmshower who hosted us, helped us and cheered us. He showed us traditional music and tried to teach us to snap fingers like Iranian people. Here, everybody did it, not us.
We met again Javad previously met in Erevan. He told the capital city is threatened by a big earthquake. As the buildings are not designed to resist it, a disaster would be happen in the next decades. We also met a jewellery maker seen in Armenia. He managed a small original museum in a cool and relaxing village in the north of Tehran. Sahar, a friend of Siavash, showed us her traditional carving art.
To escape Tehran the weekend, we went with our new friend at the highest mount of Iran, the mount Damavand (5671 m). We were six in the car but it was not exceptional, we saw lot of car with 7 or 8 people inside. Unfortunately we didn’t climb the mount but there was a festival about environment. We learned there is a terrible lack of water in Iran. Several lakes are yet dry which is a disaster for wildlife. If nothing is done, there will be no more water within 20 years. Most of water is wasted in agriculture. Later we met a man who sell irrigation system to avoid this waste. The government encourages this purchase (maybe too late). But it seems there is no awareness of Iranian people.
Another day, we went by car to Kashan, 300 km in the south of Tehran. According to the french historian Roman Grishman, the first civilisation of the world was born in this place. It was far so we camped on a service area. Iranian people like to camp, it’s allowed in public parks. On the way back, we rested in a prior room.
Of course, we can’t talk about Iran without mentioning.. Islamic rules. The first thing to do for Fanchon is to wear scarf and hide her bottom with a long dress. Gabriel can’t anymore wear shorts. In city bus, we are separated, men ahead and women behind. Then, as all Iranian people we downloaded an application on our tablet to overpass the prohibition of facebook and YouTube. For some people Fanchon is invisible. Gabriel had to answer questions for two. By the way, in front of the law a woman is a half of a man.
Most of people denounce the Islamic gouvernement. But what can they do? The democracy is not respected. When the previous elections, demonstrators who contest the dubious victory of the president Ahmadinejad were arrested. Several of them are steel in jail. Some Iranian people dream to escape but it is very difficult. We can hope Iran could change one day with new generation and its opening in the world.
Iran is demonized by the occident. The television deals only about atomic bomb so well that some people think Iran is in war. It’s absolutely false, we felt safer than in France.
Once we got all our visas, we took the bus to Mashaad at the est of the country. There, Babak involved us in the filming of a documentary about iranian women.
We relayed Phoebe, a Malaysian cyclist who had to get the border. It was interesting but we were sick of follow people and didn’t chose by ourselves. Iranians were very helpful but sometimes too much. Several times we felt completely assisted.
Our stay was finished by bike, we reached the Turkmen border. We spent one night with grocer’s family, another one in a caravanserai like the poet Omar Khayyam millennia before. We slept the last one in the red crescent which welcomes travellers for free. We liked the atmosphere with children were playing.
We have been seduced by Iran. Go to see by yourself what happens really! Population is kind and welcoming, history is rich and cities are beautiful. Our favorite is Shiraz.
We left Iran on August the 9th for Turkmenistan.