This blog post is dedicated to Stig’s journey through Iran. He freely describes what he sees and experiences, without judging the Iranian way of life seen from a Western standpoint.
The year is 1979...
We had been in the mountains north of Tehran to see caves and slalom slopes (mountains up to 5671 m) and on our way down to the town, we met an Iranian who was born and raised in Germany. At 26 years old, they went to Tehran to visit their dying grandmother. During this time, they were arrested and imprissoned for five years, with their passport taken away for another 5. The reason? In Germany, they ran an Iranian radio station. The authorities did not like the station’s message ... We were invited to dinner at great restaurant in town. It was the first time we got served this story :-).
The Islamic revolution . Until '79 Iran had a monarchy, with King Shah, a very rich king because of the nation’s vast oil reserves. Iran was a far greater power within world trade of oil than it is today, which was very unfortunate for the United States that financed a revolt against King Shah. He was replaced by Allatolla Khomeini, who was not even high ranking, but liked by the people. Iran became a republic. That same year, Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Tehran. Without finding the intelligence they were looking for, they kept the 52 diplomats hostage for 444 days.
On Tuesday it was 35 years since the Ayatollah showed a finger to the US. Right after the inauguration Iran built a Muslim superpower based on traditions. USA, who wanted cheaper oil, and Saudi Arabia felt that Iran had become too dominant. Following this, Sadham Hussein and the Iraqui army began the Iran-Iraq war. Iran did not depart one sqm of their country and are a proud nation. Yes, stories come time and again.
Next we got it from a professor of theology. We hit the celebration of Ashurah in Isfahan. We were also invited into the mosque. Iran has no poverty, but could have been rich. The sanctions have burdened. Today they act mostly with Australia, China, South Korea, Russia, Turkey and the three Caucasus. But can not get a cash settlement, hence no credit cards, there is simply no communication to banks abroad due sanctions. "Oil for food" etc.
Allatollaene have it well in Iran and thus poor alike. The distribution is ... But they are a proud nation and as they say: "We have never started a war" - it is against the Shiite faith. We also got a lot ideolistic thoughts, but then I'd probably write a book:-).
The meeting with the Iranian police
We had had some acquaintances with Iranian police. First we were caught by a radar gun doing 120kph in a 60kph zone.. The policeman just shook his head, grinned and laughed, and after we had confirmed that "Iran is good", we were waved on. In other words no English knowledge. A little later we were measured at 127 km / h in 110 zone (so many radar guns here!). We tried a little charm to bridge the language barrier, this failed. A ticket was being written. With a little ignorance and a charming smile, the ticket was torn up. The language barrier had helped again.
Soon we came across an Indian motorcyclist who was riding from London to Mumbai. We were not able to catch the ferry to Pakistan. Instead we headed to Bandar Abbas and caught a ferry to an island for a day. We drove the 75km alongside the 180bhp Suzuki ridden by Sushanth, mostly at 140 kph. Once more, radar guns! Sceaching brakes and tire smoke from both vehicles as we tried to slow to 60kph. However as large motorcycles are banned in Iran, the local police were more interested in checking out the bike than fining us for speeding.
At the ferry port, the entire town seemed to show an interest in us. They were fascinated by the Suzuki. Some of our new Indian friends had comepedted in rally events and found it terribly fun that we knew Henning and Petter Solberg. The day on the island was used to take pictures of Suzuki and relax from driving. On the island we had used up both our and Sushanth’s money.
I will keep in touch with my new Indian friend, a bit of an adventurer:-). And when we talk about the adventures... Today we spent the day together with two Germans, Iris and Kalle. They "live" to run around in the sand dunes. Kidnapped in Niger, living in the bush in Botswana and experienced amazing things - too much to begin to write here. I think I must write a book when coming home:-)
Yes, much is different in Iran. But after a week we have at least got some other info about things. But as you recall - I depict - make no opinions. Marriage and divorce are different. We have talked to many and it seems indeed that they are satisfied, I respect that. Without going into into details, their respect for parents and spouses, care for and to put children first are values we can share with Iran.
Yes, they have the death penalty for drug offenses, but only the most serious. They put it into perspective, those who get the death penalty have already taken many lives. Alcohol is not legal, but no one cares about this. We have been offered alcohol absolutely everywhere we've been, and when we ask about punishment they laugh. Police do not care, not even about smuggling - where capital punishment is a fine no less.
Yes, there are a few paradox in Iran. Homosexuality is not legal, but Iran is the country with the highest number sex operations ... Sex outside marriage is not "good", but short-term marriage is legal. The ladies must be covered in public, but at home they do what they want, and Iran's beauty operations big business. Authorities controls all media. But all have satellite television for foreign TV. Facebook is illegal but used by many. But that Allatollaene make life cumbersome, there is no doubt. They have a clear agenda. That Iran will become the undisputed leader in the Muslim world, they depend to collect also the Sunni states, and they often have close ties to the United States.
Iran relies on respect from the outside world. And Alletollaene run hard with Sharia laws, anti-Semitism and the United States as the great satan - such works in this part of the world. And the atomic bomb - the ultimate guarantee of respect. But those we speak with say they do not want it ... I thought as I sat on the boat over to Dubai that one does not need to understand everything:-).
Including customs, the trip on the boat to Dubai took over 33 hours! But it was also fun at the harbor, we were familiar with the sailors who sailed wooden boats with goods over to Dubai. Tough Guys, just like us, and I got to stand on the bridge and play captain. We have had a fine time in Iran but nothing was as sweet as the cold beer in Dubai. The Mariott hotel had made mistakes with our room and father and I got the suite on the 32nd floor. 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, living room, dining room and stuff. It would be lovely after 3 nights in the car and one on the floor at home with nice Omid. But the night was late and humid with Sushanth, Iris and Kalle. So when I fell asleep sitting in bed with my clothes and light on at 4 o'clock in the morning, I’d have also been able to sleep in a youth hostel!
Do you have tips and advice for the Stig? Maybe you know places he should visit, restaurants he should eat at or experiences to try along the way. If so, you can send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Click here to follow Stig's route in Google maps