Iran: Chaotic borders and Hardcore Porn

With some trepidation, we set off for Iran.
Near the border there were tanks on the hills, doing military maneuvers.  Unless they were just stuck.  Either way it was a worrying sign.


The border was very busy. 
 
Coach-loads of Iranian women prepared themselves for the hijab law.  They were middle-class, and, appropriately, looked down on us.

A desert storm trouper took our passports. 
 
An official took our fingerprints.  
A billion burkha-clad women appeared in the toilets, speaking to me in unintelligible tongues.  I fathomed it was something along the lines of ‘What the hell are they finger-printing you for?’ and ‘You know that stuffs never going to come off…’


 
It was chaotic.  There was no immediately apparent order to anything.  Truck drivers waved wads of paperwork in the air frantically.  Officials ignored them frantically.  Giant extended families sat about on the floor while all their worldly belongings were searched. 

A young, eager man attached himself to us and guided us throughout the entire mess.  Then he asked for money. Quite grateful for his help, we gladly donated.

We rode off confidently and were stopped again once we thought it was all over. We got the final stamp after a long chat with two remarkably friendly officials, and were off.  
We were in Iran. Actually and properly, despite everyone we had ever met advising us we were insane if we so much as stepped foot into the country, etc etc.  It was all good.

My few first observations, stupidly generalised:
 The roads are good, everyone is friendly, and the women all wear chadors. (‘Chador’ means tent in Farsi- it is an all-encompassing cloak, normally black, from which only a face, some fingers and toes emerge.)


 
We rode into the nearest border town, Maku.  The most noticeable thing about our time thus far in Iran was the number of people genuinely willing to go completely out of their way in order to show you yours. We were guided into Maku by a convoy of young motorcyclists, all single-handedly showing us to our hotel.  It was very pleasant, and entirely unnerving to us reserved Brits.

The chirpy hotel manager helped Adam ride into the hotel reception and park in front of the stairs, thereby blocking all but the most energetic of guests from accessing their rooms.  He showed us photos of a German Goldwing rider, with his gigantic bike parked in front of the main entrance.  It seemed that daft-looking foreigners with even dafter modes of transport were a normal occurance here.


 
We settled in well, I swapped my silly hat for an even sillier version, just for a change, and we went food-hunting.

 
 
It poured down the minute we left the hotel, and we ran around trying to find a listed restaurant that wouldn’t mind our bizarre non-meating ways. 

There is only one main road in Maku.

Still, we got lost.

Some very friendly, smiley engineering students walked with us to help us find the restaurant.  Sadly due to language barriers, they weren’t entirely sure what we were looking for, and kept showing us back to our hotel.  
I got a little disgruntled.  The rain was drenching my stupid Turkish dancer outfit the lovely shop assistant had advised me to buy, and I’d noticed not a few stares in its direction.  My hat kept falling off the back of my head, the pins dug themselves wholeheartedly into my chin.

The students took photos.  I had a feeling they would have won any ‘Most Miserable Tourist’ Photography Award.

The next morning Adam set off to scout out Iranian bike insurance.  (We had reached the countries where insurance is something you buy at the borders, and covers you only for Third Party.  It is obligatory, but actually making a claim is considered bad form.)

He was gone for about an hour, in which time I managed to painfully trap my finger in the metal bike pannier, causing a large-ish piece of flesh to detach itself from the tip and land on the seat, and me to yelp and then bleed profusely.  I cried, and couldn’t write or use cutlery for a week. 

Adam returned with a taxi driver who had sorted him with insurance (actually making a claim possibly having just become harder than going against local custom…).   
He rushed off to buy bananas. 

The driver sat with me.   He fed me Nescafe and chocolate, told me his wife was a doctor and showed me hardcore porn.   Socially I was doing ok up until that point… What is the appropriate reaction to an Iranian local from a slightly conservative Muslim frontier town showing you some people very happily en flagrante in an act illegal in some states in the US…

I dealt with it by looking suitably horrified.  It didn’t seem to deter him much, and he carried on to tell me whisky was a wonderful beverage and women liked to walk around naked in Tehran. 
 
I was fairly pleased when Adam returned, and it wasn’t because I wanted a banana.  

1 comment:

  1. Its a love or hate thing marmots!

    ReplyDelete

Say hello. It makes us happy. Ta, Nicky. x

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