It all starts with some tea and a dirty air filter. This is Iranian hospitality at its best.
The most useful street in the world
All conversations on this section are in sign language unless stated otherwise
First thing we noticed in our air filter was half a cockroach. That cannot be good. As we started to shake the dust (and insects) off the dirty filter, the same man who invited us for tea the day before told us to go a couple of doors down the road. There we found a mechanic, he looked at us and without saying a word he took the air filter and gave it a good brush using an air pistol. Perfect.
We then noticed an electrician on the other side of the road. Since the beginning of the rally, we have been wanting to install the auxiliary headlights that Ring Automotive kindly donated us, so this was ideal. The good old man looked confused and he ended up taking us next door, to a money exchange office – this is getting interesting we thought.
Another man from a couple of shops down the road joined the conversation a few minutes later. By the time we got back on the street we already knew half the people working in the area! After some deliberation, the accountant finally asked us to follow his son. Handshakes for everyone and off we went following the young man and his scooter.
The owner of a tiny garage and his partner were checking out the engine of a rather new Kia when our small convoy arrived at their door. After a lot of sign language, we were finally handed a mobile phone. On the other side of the line there was an English voice who served as our translator as we agreed on the installation and negotiated the fees. Simple!
2 hours later we got back to Lola and her shiny new headlights. Once the installation was finished and tested, the unexpected happened. The mechanic asked us to come to his house for tea, or at least that is what we thought. A few minutes later we were in his living room sharing food with his family. There was tea of course, but also rice, some sort of meat stew with pinto beans, tadik (fried rice), yoghurt and fermented milk. It is at times like this when you really wish you could speak some Farsi to show some gratitude. Instead, we said mamnun (thank you in Farsi) as many times as we could. They even gave us some ice for the road!
We set off thinking that we had now truly experienced Iranian hospitality. But Iran was not done with us just yet.
Back on the road
Before we left Yazd we bumped into Team Go Camel. Our route for the next two weeks is very similar so hopefully we’ll meet again to tackle together the next few countries.
Next stop was supposed to be the oasis village of Garmeh in the middle of the desert. However, the events from that morning meant we would have to stop to spend the night somewhere else. Not a problem, we had Lola and we had food.
Mosques surroundings offer the perfect place for free camping and the one in Saghand – a tiny village in the middle of nowhere – was no different. At least half a dozen families were enjoying their picnics and preparing tea.
A local bus stopped not far from us and a few young men got off. One of them looked at us, not understanding why there was a British ambulance parked in his village. Salaam we said and immediately he got closer, with a smile on his face and a curious look.
Medith spoke a little English and after explaining our trip he immediately asked us to join him for tea. We were not going anywhere that night, so we gladly accepted his offer. Before we knew it, we were chatting with his whole family and once again there was plenty of food before us: fried eggs, homemade bread, dates, plums and fermented goat yoghourt. How wonderful this people are!
One oasis in the desert and many camels
Next morning we woke up with smile on our face remembering the events from the day before. Garmeh, our destination for the day, was still a few hundred kilometres away, through narrow roads and a big hot desert. Despite the road signs, there were no camels to be found… or were they?
When we finally arrived at our destination we found an oasis in the desert, with three camels, a bunch of goats and some lovely people. All from different backgrounds, including the camels, but with one thing in common: we love Iran.
One last word
Spending a couple of weeks here may not be everyone’s cup of tea, after all mass tourism has not arrived yet and at times Iran can be a bit rough for the western tourist.
However, if that actually sounds perfect to you, then this country will blow you away: it offers fascinating history, stunning architecture and delicious food but above all it is their people, that makes it truly special.
Central Asia and the countries also known as The Stans are waiting for us, starting with Turkmenistan.
Update on Lola
Lola drives as well as before after cleaning that dirty air filter: 0 to 100kph (60mph for those of you in the imperial system) in just 35 seconds.