Friday, 17 August 2012

From Barcelona to Tehran: Day 61

Day 61: A Tough Day with a Good Finish; From Makoo to Jolfa in Iran 

June 30, 2012; Distance covered today: 138 Km; Total: 4891 Km

I could not sleep well last night: the hotel was dirty, hot, noisy, and there were mosquitoes. In the middle of night, after tossing and turning for a long time, I put on some mosquito spray and my ear plugs. Only then I could get some sleep. 
He dropped out of school for poverty--so sad
I woke up at 5:30, packed everything, and left the hotel. Before I left the town, I managed to find a map of Azerbaijan. The weather was nice, and I got to Poldasht, the first town by the Aras river. I bought a Barbary (An Azeri kind of bread), and had it with some cream. As I was biking on a lonely farm road, I saw a big motorbike coming form the opposite direction. I and the motorbike rider stopped to have a chat. He was an Austrian traveling by bike. We talked and exchanged stories for about half an hour in the sun. We had a lot to say, but we had to get going. 
From central Asia through Iran to Austria
The weather couldn’t have been better. I kept riding and riding until the mountains began. And there started the wind. It was really strong head wind. The road was getting ridiculously steep at times so much so that I had to walk my bike. 
It was getting a little boring to be on a road like this most of the day!

At about 6 o’clock, I saw a road sign for an old Church, Nane Maryam Church. The road to the church was really steep. I knew there was no way I could ride the bike there, but I wanted to go there to see if it was possible to camp there. It was really torturous to walk my bike up there. I was sweating so much. Every ten meters or so I had to stop to catch my breath. Very close to the end, there were a few families sitting by their cars and having tea or watermelon. They just kept watching me. I thought they would say a kind of greeting or invite me to have tea or a bite of watermelon, but not even one person spelled out a word. There was a water tap there. I put my head under the water and enjoyed the flow of cold water on my sweating head.
These cab drivers were so much into politics. We had an interesting discussion! Mostly about sanctions.
I parked the bike there, took my camera, and went to the entrance of the church. I walked up the pathway, and as I wanted to get into the church, an old man stopped me and said that I could not get in wearing biking sorts. I had completely forgotten that I should have been more conservative when I am in public places. I got disappointed and humiliated. Then I went down, got on the bike, and left the historic church. At the bottom of the steep road to the church, I stopped to take a photo to remember the fact that I was denied access to the church because of my biking shorts. 
The Aras and the road to Jolfa

A guy, who was the security of that road saw me taking pictures and said in Persian, “You cannot go there in ‘Bekini’. There are women and children there. Iran is an Islamic country.” I was not upset about not seeing the church. I was really angry at the guy’s tone, and choice of words. If you know Persian, you must have guessed what he said, (short o korsette).  I just told the guy, “Have a nice time in this Islamic country”. 
The park I camped in and watched spectacular lightening show

It was getting late. The sky was full of ominous clouds as well. I could hear Thunder claps and lightening. I kept riding until I got to Park e Koohestani, where there were some designated areas for pitching up your tent. 

After washing myself and my clothes, I sat and watched spectacular lightening show.

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