Blue pill or the red pill?
- Love tea and picknicks
- Highly educated, curious
- Impatient sometimes
- Positive, smiles
- Energetic, they undertake
- I had difficulty understanding the large amounts of money and just gave them my wallet #trustworthy
- Eats a lot of meat (so me too and I’m a vegetarian)
- In traffic, especially in cities, they drive like mad men
My suspicion that Iran is safe to travel and that people are probably very friendly was confirmed pretty fast. To give you an idea there was a part where we couldn’t cycle more than 3 km an hour because we were constantly invited for food, tea and selfies.
On the overcrowded roads of Iran 1 out of 3 cars honked the horn at us and to actually make some miles we had to dissapoint people who wanted to hang out with us. We just smiled and waved and kept on going. Most nights in Iran we spent with local families, most food we ate were given to us or cooked for us by the Iranians, and some days we got invited for the underground parties. Parties without coverage and with alcohol. Parties that will give you 60 beatings with a whip. We have been to schools to talk to the local students and we were even invited on stage where the two crazy Dutch cyclists could tell why they were cycling and why they liked Iran so much. 1500 Iranians were cheering at us.
“Hellooo welcome to Iran!” This was definitely the most heard greeting to us. But also questions like: “Does everybody in Europe think we are terrorists?” or “Do you like our country and the Iranian people?”
There is barely contact with the outside world and so travelers are the perfect way to spread their (cultural) identity. Away from the government. To a foreigner you can basically tell everything you hate and dislike abut the regime because travelers have no interest whatsoever in relation to the Iranian regime as opposed to the fact that fellow citizens and even people really close to you (e.g neighbours) tell on each other. They might even get money for it. That might give you an idea how hard it is to form a strong and healthy opposition. And let’s not forget here that it were our allies, USA and England, who created the framework for regime change in the 50’s. Going from a potentially healthy democracy to a point where we are now. Oil of course. Might wanna remember that when they want to invade Iran to spread Western freedom.
I would like to write about the conversations I have had, the examples and the geo-politic game that has such a huge effect on normal people. But perhaps I shouldn’t because Iran is a country I would like to return to and so I leave it at the 100 selfies that they made of these two cyclists. Two yes, because I have been cycling with Rick. Rick Forest.
Rick took the opportunity to cycle with me for a while. For his own development, as a holiday, and to raise money for a social project. As a result we cycled over € 5000 to 2 social projects. That has made Rick proud but also me.
Now, if you really want to do something you just do it. Basically it’s that simple. Now as for Rick, he too is superbusy with a job as a manager and a family but he took care of it and spent 4 weeks cycling through Iran. Now he knows the country a lot better, helped 2 social projects and has had an unforgetable experience. Those are the likes that really matter. How was it to cycle together? Obviously, Rick is a pain in the ass (or is it me I’m talking about now) but we were cruising and it was awesome.
Summarized, Iran was – like Turkey – a cycling ferry tale. But – like Turkey – there is also another side. A dark side that has such great impact on millions of people. A severe impact on people, people just like you and me who just want to live a happy life. People that I now know personally. Not from some reality twisting newspaper article. It is a dark side that arises from a global elite. An elite playing the game of Risk in their bubble of power and money. You put one of those on a bicycle through different cultures and I bet you the world cyclist is the one who has to change his diaper. That’s how powerful they truly are ones you take away their title or position.
But let’s think in possibilities here. Change is possible. In Iran and everywhere else. We just have to do it ourselves. Maybe we should first start by collectively waking up and take it from there.
Are you gay?
In Teheran I took a flight to Tajikistan where I’m writing now from Dushanbe. Cycling through Turkmenistan wasn’t possible. The travel agent I got through the embassy told me I couldn’t go by myself, also not by transit because maybe I was gay. Maybe I would visit a man there. “This is not Holland” so she said. Well then, I guess that’s a no go for me. Fortunately I’m aware that most people from Turkmenistan are probably just as good as anywhwere else and that this country is dominated by the same elite who are living in their own bullshit reality.
More important than visa issues: The ‘connecting’ part is going by itself. I’m not putting effort in it but it runs, like a river it runs. Question is: did I bring enough rope to tie this world together symbolically? Here in Tajikistan and the countries that follow, the connecting part will go into a different dimension. I will cycle in the mountains and will be alone most of the time. I guess I just have to let it happen.