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 was safe to travel and that people were probably very friendly was confirmed at day 1. 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 cover some distance we had to disappoint people who wanted to hang out with us. We just smiled, 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 even got invited for the underground parties. Parties where women wouldn’t be covered, parties with alcohol. Parties that would give you 60 beatings with a whip if you get caught doing it. Hard to imagine.
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. Yes, we were popular in Iran. Personally I like to be alone, like silence, like being by myself on the bicycle but in Iran I couldn’t get enough of the attention. There’s this thing about Iranians.
“Hellooo welcome to Iran!” All the time. 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 a way be informed or to spread their (cultural) identity. Away from the government. To a foreigner you can basically tell everything you hate and dislike about the regime because travelers have no interest whatsoever in relation to the Iranian regime. This is not the case with fellow citizens who might tell the regime. They could even get money for it. This might give you an idea how hard it is to form a strong and healthy opposition. Not to mention international sanctions which only strengthen isolation and thus the current regime. 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. Take that into account when they want to invade Iran to spread Western freedom.
Let’s stick to cycling. Did I mention I was cycling with Rick Forest? I make it possible for people to cycle with me and Rick took the opportunity. For his own development, as a holiday, and to raise money for a social project. As a result we raised € 6800 for 2 social projects. That has made both of us proud.
Rick is a busy guy with a job as a manager and a family but he took care of things and spent 4 weeks cycling through Iran. In addition we helped 2 social projects and had an unforgettable 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 fairy 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 guys 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 have to start with ourselves, start by collectively waking up.