Week 16-18

June 6th till 24th
The last three weeks not much happened. I went with Yang, my Taiwanese room-mate, and his Japanese friends to the residence of the Algerian ambassador since there was a little Algerian culture exhibition showing clothes, paintings and offering some food. The daughter of the ambassador is in Yang’s class, that’s how we heard of this exhibition.
One day Yang and I tried to go on a second hand car market, but we didn’t even find that place.

The weekend of week 17 (June 18th to 20th) I went by train to Sari for visiting my friends there. In addition Thursday was the first day of the month of Ramadan, where people should not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. But actually it is mostly done in public. I don’t know anyone who would fast in the own house or in the office.
Still on Thursday we went to a BBQ birthday party, that didn’t differ from others: delicious salads, delicious meat and the normal choice of drinks.
On Friday we stayed at home until late afternoon, because it was really hot and humid outside, so it was the perfect opportunity to finish my book. Before sunset we went to the Caspian Sea and watched it there. At the beach nobody cared that it wasn’t gone yet but already started to eat and drink.
Saturday I took a day off from school and went in the morning by bus back to Tehran again.

In general not much is happening right now. I meet every now and then with some friends and looking forward to July, when I’ll start travelling again. The necessary equipment arrived on Monday by post, so now I’m just waiting…

But actually something happened. I went to Laleh Park two night now, because from about 9.30pm there are different performances going on. There are always some singers. One day there were some artists and sportsmen showed their skills in the traditional Iranian sports called Zurkhaneh.
Another day the highlight was a voice imitator.

Now-a-days it’s about 40°C (105°F) during day but it doesn’t get much cooler at night. So if you are outside for five hours, walking around and talking without, since it’s Ramadan, return to someone’s home, the mouth is drying out and you just want to have a glass of fresh cold water.

Week 15 – Iran’s Green Side

30.5-5.6, Saturday-Friday

The previous week (23.5-29.5) was quite uneventful.

Wednesday (3.6) was a holiday in Iran, so the weekend was one day longer. Of course I had to take advantage of it and decided, as a friend recommended me, to go to the mountains around Soobatan, Gilan Province, in the north-west of Iran, near Azerbaijan.
I wanted to cross the mountains westbound from the coast north of Talesh to Neor lake, make a stop in Soobatan and then pitch my tent somewhere outside. The whole trail would have been around 38 kilometres (26mi, high differences already regarded).
But I didn’t want to go alone so I asked around a bit. And I really got an answer. A friend of Frisco’s firends, whom I had met before, wanted to join me. She didn’t hike or camped before, but the eveluation profile and experiences of other hikers suggested it not to be difficult and the 38km were divided on two days. Though the whole project (hiking and camping without a tour guide) seemed extremely crazy for Iranian standards, I wasn’t sure at all, that she would join me.
When I bought the bus tickets Tuesday (2.6) afternoon for the same evening, I had to notice that we would need to hike eastbound, since only tickets to Ardebil but not to Astara were available.
The bus should have left the terminal at 10pm and at 9.15pm I really met with A. The bus left with one hour delay and of course I couldn’t really sleep on it.
I told the man who stored my backpack that we wanted to get off at Budalalu and he agreed with a nod. I wasn’t sure that he understood especially since the guy who checked the tickets said it won’t be possible.
Anyway on Wednesday (3.6) morning at 7am the bus stopped and we go out. Now we just needed to get to the lake to start our tour. A. talked to a hiking group and luckily on their bus were exactly two free seats lefts.
At 9am we started from the lake but only two hours later A. was exhausted and wanted to take a car. It was possible since the there are (bad) roads to the village, to bring lazy tourists and food. I didn’t want to go by car so I gave A. some stuff for my backpack being a bit lighter. I estimated to arrive 3 or 4 hours later in Soobatan.
I arrived shortly after 2pm, but found A. 2 hours later. Then we discussed, if we should agree to the hospitality of some inhabitants or to start hiking and reduce the distance for the next day and sleep in the tent.
I could convince A. of the last, but it was already quite late that’s why a thunderstorm was about to hit us and shortly before it started we crashed into a big family and they didn’t let us continue. Of course I didn’t wanted A. to be afraid, so we went back to Soobatan with them.
After the thunderstorm was over, we drove around a bit and later we ate dinner. But I didn’t eat much, so the family saw it as an insult. Thus I couldn’t be 100% appreciate their help. A. and I then went sleeping on the terrace, since we needed to get up very early. I was surprised that the night was not cold at all as I was afraid of.
At 5am we got up and packed our stuff. The trail we took towards the coast couldn’t be done by car. So we regularly met shepherds or nomads, wrangling their animals along.
The distance was only 15km (10mi), but it became a challenge. Right at the beginning I took A.’s backpack and soon her inexperience was shown, because we could only go very slow. We needed nearly 10 hours till we reached the street to Tehran. I never hiked that long with such amount of luggage and my shoulder started to make problems.
The nature on the other hand was stunning beautiful and it rightly called “Iranian Alps”. The landscape reminded of of the one in middle and northern Europe as well as the Balkans.
As we reached the street, we took advantage of the fact, that the buses just stop at the roadside. That was shortly after 3pm and the driver told us it would have been 5.5h or 6h to Tehran. Unfortunately we didn’t arrive before until 11pm…