Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Day 95 (Iran): just before Marand - Tabriz (are you Markus?)

daily distance: 86km
total distance: 6448km
riding time: 5h

I wanted to get to Tabriz before noon, figuring I would escape the heat. That didn’t work out really.

On the way to Marand, I saw some scary stuff too …

In Marand I wanted to check up on a couchsurfing host - but that came up empty. People were not there or had family members over. Bummer. But I got my first taste of government people relations in Iran. As I entered Marand, a young guy (I will not mention names here in Iran at the insistence of a number of people) was riding next to me and we started talking about this and that. He showed me the internet cafes, they were all closed, but in the end brought me to a friend of his who had a good connection. But the more important thing was the conversation we had … A caricaturist, he showed me some of the works he has done and some are politically inopportune I would think in Iran. I was treated to breakfast and we discussed a range of things and the topic inevitably turns to politics in some way or another. It was interesting suffice it to say.After leaving Marand, I was forced up another big climb (10km uphill) on what was supposed to a “downhill from Maku to Tabriz”. It became hot again and the wind was straight in my face on the last 40km to Tabriz. No fun really. Apart from the police car that shouted: “How are you? How are you?” at me. I was shot when I entered town. There was an ice cream place. Good stuff. Then all of a sudden one of the guys whips out a cycling shirt and leads me into the center of town. Well, he rides off and figures that I would follow him. Communication was hard, there was not common language really, but it was enough to determine that I was looking for a bookstore and the center of town generally speaking. He got me to some book vendors on the street and this is when things turned completely into the surreal.

As we were talking I asked for a place to buy a copy of a guidebook (sorry, all is closed on Friday) or an internet connection (sorry, those are closed too on Fridays). Darn. I said that it would be great to find one at any rate as I have to check on whether I can stay at someone’s place. At this point one of the guys says: “Are you a couchsurfer? Are you Markus?” I whip my head around and look at him. “Yes!” Well, then you’re staying at my place. I had no time to answer you yet, but you had emailed me about this.” It was a complete coincidence. And I am very fortunate to have made this connection. Aydin still had to work for an hour or so during which time I slurped down a few banana milk drinks and was invited to ice cream by a random person. As we trotted to Aydin’s place we were already in a deep conversation about everything Iranian, which was not only interesting but also eye-opening. At Aydin’s family’s place I was welcomed very warmly and made feel at home. There was great food (bikers are always hungry) and after some time we set out to explore some parts of Tabriz with A’s brother and a friend of his. More food was to follow later on - including Iranian pizza and more ice cream. The best part however is certainly the high degree of hospitality that I am enjoying and the glimpse into the life of people.

Thanks for writing in about the blackout during the Germany - Turkey game. I guess I was the only one here who got the break in Farsi then.


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