After Zanjan we were determined to get away from the main road truck drone and decided to head towards the hillier/ more remote parts of Western Iran. However the weather had a different agenda. For the first two days were soaked in freezing rain. This necessitated drying off every two hours in front of gas heaters at random truck stops. Meanwhile our chosen road towards Hamadan and the interior turned out to be a mean dangerous one with no hard shoulder and rocket powered trucks going past like flying bricks. So after a U turn we made one more attempt at heading to the mountain plateau only to be intimidated by a fresh fall of snow on the nearby foothills. Enough was enough and we returned to the main road drone, which, while not the most exciting bike r0ute in the world, at least offered a safe hard shoulder and a direct channel to the cities of the south.
Meanwhile at our lowest ebb, damp, tired and staring at impenetrable peaks our guardian angel arrived in the shape of an articulated lorry. By now we were used to Iranians pulling over almost hourly to give us pomegranates and advice. But this driver without any other introductions gave Jet a silver ring with an amber stone and then went back to his cab to find Jen a stone necklace with which she garlanded her handlebars.
The next day while riding through a post apocolyptic desert landscape in fine drizzle where the only landmark was a power station plastered with images of the Ayatlollahs the same truck driver pulled up and gave us a complete cooked lunch with two lots of drinks and snacks . It was clear he had bought it especially and was looking out for us on the desert road to once again bestow his kindness.
Those of you following this blog since its inception may remember Mr Moped a virtual two wheeler whose job it was to speed ahead of us in France and close all the likely eating and watering holes when we most needed them. We now like to think that Mr Moped has had a conversion experience and has been reborn as this very man whose job it is to follow us round like a support vehicle.
Heading south the sun popped its head back out and after a couple more homestays (ranging from a sweet bunch of mechanics who shared a room with a mouse and a gas stove to a middle class family with two adorable young girls, talented artists) we arrived in Kashan, a sleepy fuzzily warm hearted oasis city, a place where not much happens very prettily. We are staying in a gorgeous hotel renovated from a merchant mansion and taking a day off doing anything involving wheels or sightseeing. Tea and cake are stamped on the agenda.
Tomorrow we head up a few hills towards the city of Isfahan where we hope we can renew our visa, if not we have to stick the bikes on the bus…. Isfahan is mid way down Iran and a good stop off before we venture into the hotter desert landscapes of the south.
Iran continues to confuse and engage us like a mirage. Or a hot game of chess.
j n j x x
The Iceman Goeth Away
Jet Cycling towards Soltanayeh mosque