Race to Iran

Back in August, when I made my Iranian visa, I told them I would enter early October. They gave me till the 25th of November. I laughed: time enough.

gorisSo on the 20th, I finally manage to leave Yerevan. In my panniers: the traditional empty camera battery, some last-minute recovered items that were spread over town, an unfinished blog post, and 1600 AMD – 3.2 Euro. Ready for a five-day race to the border, 400 tough kilometers further. On the third day I was still ahead of schedule, happily surviving on bread, butter, piroshki, and a sporadic coffee, to keep the moral high. It required some long forgotten discipline. But suddenly, durinDSC01155g a climb, my knee started to hurt. It got worse quickly and I didn’t manage to reach the top before sunset, in a thick fog. Luckily I found refuge in a small cafe, where I spent the night playing nardi and drinking home-made wodka with the owner. He fed me well and let me stay overnight. Next morning, a truck driver, who hopped in and provided us with breakfast, offered me a ride straight to the border, with an additional stay for the night. My knee felt a bit better, and I was too stubborn to accept, which I regretted not much later. It was a struggle to Kapan. The next offer I would definitely take. I didn’t have to wait very long. A man invited me for a coffee, and told me that one of his friends had to go to Meghri, at the border. No money! No money! My old Peugeot got stuffed into the old Lada, and off we went.

cafeSome minutes later, it already became clear that the man wanted an astronomical amount of money for his efforts, so I told him I’d cycle, which was impossible according to him, because it was uphill – sigh. I insisted and unloaded the bike, but he wanted 1000 AMD for the small distance we’d done. I felt ripped off, and didn’t want to pay anything. But while demonstrating his knowledge of Armenian, Russian, Azeiri, and even some German cursewords, he was clever enough to lock one of my panniers in his trunk. Meanwhile, some people had gathered around, and I had no option but paying. The child in me threw the coins on the floor, which made him toss one of my bags in the middle of the street, with one minute traffic chaos as result.

DSC01174The rest of the day I tried hitchhiking, without success. I had to stay for the night in Kapan, wake up early, and finish Armenia myself. A last pass too 2500 meters. I suffered, my arm had to assist my leg, to decrease the pain. It was already dark when I reached the border. Then there was this extra problem that the ATM machine didn’t want to give me any money. But everything got solved, and I entered Iran, just in time. Time for some rest.

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2 Responses to Race to Iran

  1. Bryan Keith says:

    Hi Laurens,

    Good to know you’re know alive, no thanks to your blog updates, however. A couple days ago in Antalya, I met Charley, a British cyclist who said he spent some time with you in Iran. Then I just read Will’s latest update. He’s the young British cyclist who mentioned you as a part of a group that might be pedalling the Pamir Highway shortly. Excellent.

    Uh, yes, I’m still in Antalya, but I’m leaving soon, really. First of May I expect to hit the road (bahahaha; I can’t say that without laughing). I just extended my ikamet (again) so I can stay in Turkey until September…


    • Hah nice to hear from you, yes I ve been moving alot lately (visa pressure pushed me far away east). Now settled in Bishkek for a month and I’ll try to fill up the gap. Did you manage to leave antalya hamca? Kolay gelsin!

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