Good bye Iran!January 23 in Iran
It's been more than 3 weeks now since we left Iran after spending 2 months there and we're still struggling to process all impressions of a certainly intense time. So, this is a try to roughly summarize:
We found it incredibly easy to travel through this country. The selflessness, helpfulness, ease, hospitality and kindness of the people knows no limits and when we realized that after some time, there was in fact absolutely nothing we had to worry about. Maybe we've lost this feeling at all and that's why it felt really weird to board a ferry that would eventually take us to another country, where things would be different - and new, which made it exciting of course, as well. After all, that's one essence of traveling.
We must admit that we felt safer than in any other country and thefts are probably a good example. What's going on in Germany and other European countries regarding bike thefts? It appears unthinkable to us that this would happen in Iran. There are always exceptions, of course, but we got the impression that criminality only plays a marginal role in the Iranian society - the social interaction is simply too warm-hearted! And we're pretty sure that the religion, especially the prayers as a form of meditation, and the absence of alcohol play a key role. It is certainly striking that there seems to be no stress but only calmness, everywhere. We finally got clear about this when we encountered the rude interaction of people in Dubai for the first time, and were kind of shocked.
We're also wondering which value love and sexuality have in a society where it's almost impossible for boys and girls to get to know each other because they grow up apart (meaning separated classes, sports and music activities, no bars and clubs) and the traditional 'marrying somebody off' is still common practice. Some unmarried men in their late twenties told us that there is a 'modern way to get married' as well, but we felt that they were desperate to find or even get to know a woman. When they asked us about our relationship and we started talking about emotions and feelings, we could feel their uncomfortableness and consciously didn't mention 'love'. We don't want to judge about all Iranians, but we've thought and talked about this topic a lot and we believe that the various restrictions of the Iranians by their government prevent a development of love and sexuality from happening - with exceptions, which, in the public, immediately catch one's eye.
The Iran is absolutely huge and so diverse, you can go skiing in the North and swimming in the gulf in the South at the same time, the variety of landscapes and climates, the natural beauty, the contrasts between bustling cities and the silence of mountains, deserts and coastline, the fresh fruits and vegetables, the spices, the tea and bread culture, the picnic and camping culture - traveling through this country is an adventure and each day is a different story.
The fake news in the media and the fact that World War II propaganda is still alive is certainly one of the sad stories we experienced. How often did even young people praise the 'strong leader' in our past or tell us that Iranians, Japanese and Germans are of the same (Aryan) race? How can a father be so proud that his son looks 'almost German', after dying blond his hair? How can a TV program spread rumors that 1.7million Canadians are threatened by starvation in their country (we saw this in the police office for foreign affairs where we extended our visa - and where Iranians try to collect their passports to leave the country, Canada is a popular destination...)? Not everybody is questioning things and makes use of other sources to overcome the manipulation. We see the root of many issues in the educational system which is probably the strongest weapon of the government to keep control over the Iranian folk - and we hope that the Iranian people will never lose their courage, for a better future, and for more freedom.
Here are some statistics of 59 days in Iran:
Cycled kilometers: 3052
Wild camping: 32 nights
Hosted: 18 nights
Hostel or Guesthouse: 7 nights
Hotel: 1 night
Max/min temperatures: 30/-14 degrees
Fellow cyclists met: Karamat, Lena & Silvio, Mohamed, Abbas, Jan & Hannes, Valerie & Stijn, Gabriel, Lorenzo, Dennis, Anneke & Tane, Lorenzo, Frederic, Robert & Florian, Jakob, Philipp, Jean-Baptiste & Stephane
Invitations, selfies, honking and waving, consumed bread, tea, fruits and nuts, mountain passes >2000m: countless :)
'Where are you from?' answered: 15 times/day in average