At lunchtime today I skipped merrily forth from the steel-fenced compound housing the Iranian Embassy here in Yerevan. After pausing briefly in the middle of the road in order to frolic, I galavanted with glee and chortled with mirth as I biked my jolly way home, carrying in my sweaty palm a passport containing a visa to visit Iran.
I’m going to Iran… after all the waiting, red tape, payments and delays, it’s finally going to happen!
In celebration, I painted my bike orange and green. I can feel the imminence of my departure… the days are passing more slowly than ever… soon I’ll be in motion again, facing the unknown, starting a whole new chapter of my life. Bring it on.
Iran is a destination that I’ve been salivating over since long before I began to Ride the Earth. Widely cited as the country in the world the friendliest and most hospitable towards cycle-tourists, I find it difficult to imagine that Turkey and the Caucasus could be rivalled in this regard. Not only that, but this part of the world gave rise to advanced civilization long before Europe and the modern West achieved modern-day prevalence – a humbling thought indeed for the Western traveller. But I’ll leave my judgements until I’m there myself.
There’s another reason I’m drawn to the place. Tenny was born in Tehran. As a child, she lived through the 8-year-long First Gulf War between Iraq and Iran, during which the family slept under the dining table, ran their home’s lighting off a car battery, and had only plastic sheeting to fill their bomb-shattered window frames. It sounds like the Blitz (ask your gran).
Her family still live there today. I’ll be visiting their home in the capital to see what life there is like today, before we travel onward through the Middle East. I hope to be progressing well into Africa by the end of the year – the prospect of another winter at -30C is not one that appeals to me right now.
In the future, with slightly better preparation, I’d love to tackle another winter ride. Right now, however, I’m feeling remarkably happy with the idea of 50C and deep sand in the Sudan…