Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Day 79: Bijar to Hamedan: 159km, 4 hours. 20-25°

It is day three in Iran and I feel very safe and welcome here. 
Each new country presents us with an initial sense of uncertainty. Contrasts in language, social behaviour, geography, buildings, roads... 
It's as if my heart warms up and opens like a flower to new people and new experiences... 
I find it wonderful to observe my own thinking as I process all the new input as we ride along on the bike. We need new stimuli to remind us that we can always learn new things and adapt. 

We leave our temporary home and head eastward to Hamedan.
Without help last night we would never have guessed this was a hotel. 
Dick is navigating with the Mapsme App. It works with satellites and doesn't require having a data plan. 
It shows the streest and sometimes an 'h' for hotel but the exact location isn't always identifiable. And since we can't read Persian script we think we will need to look for stars on a building.

Google translate is coming into its own here in Iran. It served me well in Georgia and Armenia. It wonderful for communicating with people we meet along the way. We have met very few people in north west Iran who speak any English. 
I type in a phrase in English and the app converts it to Persian script. It can also speak for those who can't read. I also used it to read the menu at the hotel - the camera on my phone scans the Persian script and translates it into English. An Amazing App.  Here are some examples...

When we arrived in Marand yesterday we thought people were being especially friendly to us...
But we are beginning to suspect that Orlanda is the centre of attraction... See what happens when Dick goes to the bank.

He needed to go to the bank to change $US to rials. 
Foreign credit cards do not work in Iran. Foreign banks  have been slow off the mark with setting up business in Iran. We understand that although the UN has lifted trade sanctions countries like the USA and the U.K. have kept the sanctions in place. A political decision that may have unintended consequences as banks from other regions set up business here.  There are plenty of ATM machines but they only operate for Iranian bank cards. 
We hope that we are carrying enough $US cash  to see us through Iran. It's a first for us in all the countries we have visited.

Breakfast, warm hard boiled egg, flatbread, cream cheese, rose jam(rose petals and rose water flavour), juice, milk, tea and water.

Our room was on the top floor. Perfectly adequate for a nights sleep.

Dick stopped at the bank on the corner.
At first a boy and his dad approach me and say hello. 

Soon I was surrounded by cheerful curious people. 
Note the Kurdish loose trousers. What smart garb for this climate which has extremes of hot and cold. I like the look. Many men also have shirts with collars.
This chap hops on the bike and turns the key on, turns the lights on and tries the horn. I can see he is trying to find the ignition switch. All good fun.


The traffic starts to slow. Someone asks me to move the bike...
 Dick returns and is engulfed by curious men in the crowd.
We get going eventually.
Watermelons covered in straw on the street. Hidden in plain sight overnight  and being kept cool.

New friends along the road.

Kurdistan landscapes.
Piles of  chopped wheat straw. Maybe it is used to make the mud and straw walls of houses.

Hillsides are a network of harvested and ploughed areas 
Potatoes growing near the roadside.
A network of deep man-made underground water channels - qanats- brings water from the mountains

Who gets to wear the helmet?

The billboards of young men's faces are a reminder of the martyrdom of 250,000 men and boys who died in the Iraq/Iran war in 1982-88 when Iraq invaded Iran. Over one million Iranians moved from the western regions to the east, to Mashad, Shiraz and other towns.

We have seen several men driving tractors each with a woman sitting on the left mudguard today.
A motorcycle at a petroleum station. Motorcycles are limited to 150cc in Iran. This explains the intereste in Orlanda who is a BMW 1200cc GSA.
Police motorcycles are up to 650cc.

On the outskirts of Hamedan. 
These helpful men give us directions to a hotel in Hamedan.
After some hot and sweaty riding we find the hotel.
Whilst we are riding the airstream keeps us cool. When we are in towns the stop/start of the traffic causes us to warm. Me especially because my (now faded) dark blue jacket continues to be a radiant heat absorber.
It is melon season in Iran. Lovely sweet white fleshed melons and watermelons.

I go for a walk in the park and meet some families who are picknicking.
They are very friendly. The mothe of these two girls is a teacher. The daughters are university students.
My hejab  outfit is a large shirt from Katmandu and a scarf from Arrowtown. 
Apparently... It is clear that I am a visitor.
One of the girls shyly asks me if I am wearing my husband's shirt and laughs...

I am not going to win the style stakes here but I do pass muster. After seeing the Kurdish men this morning I understand why Mr Barham described my trousers as Kurdish pyjama-his response when I asked him if my clothing would be acceptable in Iran.
This gorgeous family shared a cup of tea with me.
And this mother shares her chador with me.
Women use a hand to hold the large black cloak closed at the neck.
Hand crafts at the market stalls.
More pistachio nuts.


Moon rise at the close of a wonderful day in Iran.

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