After our great days in Tehran the time was coming to move on. The plan was to make all the way from the capital to the city of Esfahan. But again everything turned out pretty much differently. For this time our big surprise was known as: Hoji!
In Iran you will hardly find a properly English speaking person. But among 70 Millions of Iranians Hoji is probably the best English speaking person in the whole country (no shit!) and, above this, he is very much in American hip hop culture and couldn’t be prouder of his own ‘gangster hood’ – the city of Badrud. Hoji has never been abroad but if you didn`t know, it would not be hard to consider him as an 100% US-American (see him on his bike below).
Ah, now you might wonder, how we met this guy… On the way from Tehran to Esfahan we sort of fell tired and took an exit of the motorway. Going without orientation we ended up in a place called Badrud, a small village that – how we got to know later – is closely located to a nuclear power plant program. So not surprisingly in the aftermath, the first thing that happened to us clueless tourists in Badrud was police stopping us and dragging us in their office. We, including our documents, passports and camera pictures, were checked most precisely, still not knowing what the problem was and having no idea about them considering us as Western spies or CIA agents or whatever. We already started to get annoyed by police repression when Hoji suddenly showed up. He was befriended to the police officer and showed up to do the translation. When he stood right in the doorway of the office, I was first considering him as an special secret police agent. But as soon as he explained the situation to us, we realized the problem and were pretty happy to leave the police station. After we recovered from this kind of James Bond feeling, Hoji convinced us to spent the night at his place. The next morning just started amazingly: We woke up, when hip hop music à la 50 Cent was schalling all over the house. Just realizing, how funny it is, listening to this kind of music in Badrud – a really old, traditional Iranian village, Hoji came inside the room to tell us: “Yo bros, just the early bird catches the worm, so get up you motherf…..” So we got up with amusement and we were introduced to his lovely family. It was quite a bizarre picture so see them on the floor of the living room in their traditional dresses while American hip hop tells some stories about growing up in a gangster hood and being shot and so forth… Anyways we had a tasty breakfast before we went out on our car with Hoji and his cousin to see the impressive desert around Badrud and an old bandit’s castle in the middle of it. During this tour Hoji started talking in his unmistakeable American hip hop slang, which is honestly more than amusing
We spent two great days together and got to to know nearly all of Hoji’s big family who were all keen about getting to know us. In Hoji’s uncle’s garden we were introduced to ‘Ali the Crazy’ who was eating some green grass out of the garden like an animal and had just two teeth remaining, which did not keep him from smiling all the time (see picture; Ali is the guy on the first picture on the right). We had some cay tea traditionally prepared on an open fire for us. After this we also had a competition Iran vs. Germany at the table soccer.. You should have seen their yelling and enthusiasm… but all in vain – we won
When we left Badrud and Hoji next day, we figured out, that Hoji had somehow made it out of the typical Iranian lifestyl for some reason. He is the only English speaking person in his family and the only one with connections to foreign countries. Up to now we are still wondering why he made it that far, but we can just say that we are more than happy having met him! And we came to the conclusion that once again a big coincidence had put us together! If we had not taken that exit on the motor way to Badrud, things had definetely turned out differently and supposedly not that well…
After this great experience we had to go on to Esfahan. Unfortunately we had to schedule our trip through Iran pretty precisely for our visa for the entry into Pakistan were expiring the 17th of April already. So – to keep up to the plan – we could not stay longer in Badrud and went on 200 km south to Esfahan.
There Ali, a friend of Mohammad from Tehran, was already waiting for us. Esfahan is probably one of the most beautiful places in whole Iran. It used to be the residence of powerful dynasties that created the most impressive and eye-catching mosques of the country. And thanks to Ali’s enthusiasm to show us his city, especially the beautiful monuments and the impressive bazar, we soon became eyewitnesses of the beauty of the city.
In the afternoon we also met with Najma whom we had also got to know via Couch Surfing. She suggested to visit an old traditional Iranian bath (picture below) and this is what we did! We also spent the evening together and for us, talking with an Iranian girl was a really nice experience, since so far we mostly had contact with Iranian males. Later at night we walked over several old bridges of Esfahan and out of a sudden some old people sitting near the briges gave a concert for us Another thing, which we couldn`t imagine happening to us in Germany. Without any fear each of them (all around their 70s and 80s) was performing a solo-song in persian language, so soon many people joined as audience to watch this spectacle. What we learned: Older people in Iran and also Turkey seem to be much more happy, active and integrated in society, than in Germany.
In the same evening Ali’s family had invited us to spent the night in their wonderful home! The next day we were busy playing a lot of table-soccer in Alis table-soccer club, but also with his family.
We spent our last day in Esfahan together with Ali and two friends of his again with great food prepared by Ali’s family, playing cards, somking shisha and trying to get used to Iranian music taste which – in the case of Ali’s friends – circles around Celine Dion, Enrique Englesias and Cher… Anyways, we spent a real good time, but then next day had to leave in the direction of Shiraz again because of our Pakistani visa commitments. On our way we passed Persepolis and, of course, did not miss to take a quick glance at the ancient monuments. But constructions going on, constant rain and us not being to interested into archeological stuff made these ruins a pretty boring stop for us – maybe we are not the right guys for this historical experience… So to get into more practical experience,we quickly went on to Shiraz and spent a night there in the car to get things organized. Our trip through Iranian Balochistan was getting closer and we still did not have a place to stay. Fortunately, we found Atefe in Kerman who was hosting us for a night.
On the way to Kerman we once again made the mistake to order a pizza in a quick restaurant. We had some before and learned that is just not comparable to western standards. A pizza in Iran consists basically of three things. Tasteless bread, covered with tasteless cheese and to top it all, u also got some sort of tasteless, disgusting sausage. So what Iranians do to make their pizzas sort of eatable: they just drown it into ketchup and french sauce and their you go! You dont have to be a gourmet to find out that is not the most enyoyable eating experience. So actually, when we were on the way to Kerman, I was giving it a last try and was explaining to several of the employees of a quick restaurant that I would like to have a pizza with CHEESE ONLY! What I got, you can see it on the picture below. I couldn’t really find cheese but instead of it got even more of that damn shitty sausage…
But inspite of that culinary mistreatment we had to keep on going to Kerman. It had gotten very late and Atefe, our couch surfing host, had already been asleep. Most kindly she got up for us to pick us up. Atefe is a young mother, working on 3 different jobs, to make a living for her and for her family and in order to fund her studies. We had the pleasure to meet her little daughter and enjoyed watching the ‘Pink Panther’ with her. Talking to Atefe made it clear to us and showed impressively how hard it can be for some (underprivileged) people to get a proper education in Iran but she even found some time for us and we went out with her to see an antic garden a few kilometers out of Kerman.
Early the next day we went on to Zahedan through 300km of desert. Zahedan is the last big city before the border to Pakistan. It belongs to Iranian Balochistan and this became most obvious by the white dresses that all men wear here. We enjoyed the beautiful landscape with big mountains, dried out rivers and stunning dunes. But we also had to see something sad. We don`t know, how this could have happened, but we saw a pick-up totally destroyed off the road with dead people covered next to it. Probably this accident had just happened an hour before we passed. It was shocking to see that and made in the most horrible way clear to us, how dangerous driving in Iran is.
So we were very glad when we had finally made it safely to Zahedan where Mohammad (our friend from Teheran) again arranged enough things for us, so we wouldn’t get bored in this City. First of all we had a meeting with a team from a TV channel. They were interviewing and filming us driving on the bus and playing a quick match. Later that night we enjoyed some so called “ancient games”, a mixture between religion and sports taking place in a mosque (see below). After this long day we were glad to meet our beds and dream about what would happen to us in Pakistan. So much I can tell: We planned to cross Pakistan in 2 days, after 3 weeks we are still here, so next article will not be a boring one
Dear Mohammad, Iran has been great for us – our project has got a lot of feedback and publicity due to your efforts! Thanks a lot for helping us out so much and of course for the great sport suits. We will definetely deliver the third one to Volker to Germany! It would be great to get a copy of the television clip about us sent to Germany as soon as we will be back! But anyways, thanks for showing to us that beautiful Iran we will not forget about! Stefan and Simon!