And without asking a police man told me to go to the hot springs in Sareyn. Without lifting a thumb a car gave me a ride to Khoy. From there I asked my way to Tabriz and some locals brought me to the bus station. I've told them I was hitchhiking and that I had no money for the bus but they insisted. Once there, the guy in the office said I could join the bus for free. Stunning. In Tabriz, I arrived in the chaos of a huge square where taxis and bus raffled each pedestrian that might be a customer for them. I walked away for about 1km before seeing a truck tying up his load. He took me in the outsquirts of the city and told me to go to the police. I asked myself. Why? Hitchhiker and police do not make a good partnership. But he was so right. The policeman told me. "Just wait I ll get a car for you." In the dead of night and very cold weather, I was getting closer from my goal. After 70km i was dropped. Asked some locals my way and instantly the man put me in the bus. The driver agreed on a free ride again. My stop for the night was sarab before getting to the hot springs the next morning still 70km away.
A man from the bus took me to a hotel. I explained to him that I had no money. The man from the hotel gave a few phone calls. I was waiting for my fate to be decided sitting in the lobby dreaming with the few pictures of Iran hang on the wall. And the magic happened again.The man handed me a key. 350km and I didn't have to lift up my thumb a single time and had a warm place to spend the night. The next day,on my way to hitchhike. I entered a pastry place to see the delicious cakes the country has to offer. The guys were really excited to see a traveller and gave me a warm welcome with a piece of cake. All the sudden I felt the guy's hand on my head. The inner thought was "what are you doing?" The guy told me it will bring him luck. Was I to turn like some god people would wanna worship? It did make me laugh. A few meters later, a real estate agent came out of his office and invited for some tea. .
That's when I understood Iran was going to turn into a succession of cheerful sharings with the locals. Just the conception of the iranian living room in many place I've seen is enough to understand the spirit of the people. In many home, the living room is a wide space and the table to eat while often placed in the center in Europe would rather be on the side if there is any. The spare space is often used to enjoy some meals, tea, games, chats on the floor. And it is also used to receive guests. When in Europe we actually fit only a few people, and think we don't have any room to host a lot of people, I have seen more than dozens of people sleeping together in a living room on the floor.
As I tried to hitch the police told me to jump in their car. At a roundabout they stopped trucks for me to get a ride. Cookies and tea welcomed me again with two guys bewildered by my experience. And despite the language barrier. A few local words and hand moves made the communication happen. I love those candid moments when you have to find ways around. Getting back to the childhood innocence where interacting isn't a barrier anymore no matter what the language is. Dropped a few Km away from the oh so enchanting hot springs. I immediately jumped into another car that came at the perfect timing. The guy is a doctor. After a few words he tells me litterally "my hobby is food". I had never heard that before. But from that moment I knew we would be good friends. He instantly took me around the city and to the Sabalan mountain. Then to the hot springs where I've relieved all the tensions from carrying my backpack. And I've seen what fraternity is, with all these men scrubbing and massaging each other. Europe is different in that sense cause men don't touch each other. Probably too scared of being called gays.
I thought I would become vegetarian but Sareyn and Ardebil are two places filled with Kebap place. So we enjoyed some good Kebap with lamb and lavash which is one of the traditional bread here.
I met with some friends of that man. Who told me they had connections in Tehran my next destination. The same night we had a party. Trust me there is a singer and a dancer in every iranian people.
The next day we went to the pool and I ve witnessed something incredible. The five of us were holding hands forming a circle, singing and dancing. Soon, It was the whole pool that joined the circle. Some were invited in the middle to show some of their best moves. I definitely enjoyed being invited in the middle. And it happened again in the sauna. I have found the spirit I've always had. Not only they are warm and welcoming, but they always enjoy to shake it and eat. I'll so not die starving here. I m not counting the meals anymore. And when there is some downtime. There will always be some fruits around or some sunflower seeds to keep your mouth busy. Here you say chekamou when people enjoy eating translated into greedy. After Half an hour eating we keep on eating and we always laugh telling the other. Chekamou. Cause no one will stop eating..
For three days I was told, you can leave tomorrow. It was official, I had been kidnapped. After a few days of a truly warm human experience, I left for Tehran. Found a car for a few Kms. The guy gave a phone call. And as we arrived, he threw my bag into some friend's car. The man was going to Karaj which is 50km away from Tehran. On the way after crossing a Canyon with sharp rocks, we came into a vast plain sprinkled by tiny red sandstone mounts carved with folds. As the sunset came, these folds vanished to let appear a chinese ink drawn landscape.
As I was dropped I found a bus who kindly took me on board and I was soon to be thrown into a taxi by a local for me to reach my destination. I planned to stay at most 2 days in Tehran because I m not a big city person but the kidnapping happened again.
I had the chance to celebrate the Yalda night in the northern province in a small village called Divrash. Yalda is the longest winter night of the year. About 40 of us wondered in that beautiful lost valley to witness the fierce of autumn and share some crazy dancing and food around the fire.
And we hiked to a cave in which men started to sing traditional songs and whisper poems. It was a real highlight. I couldn't understand the word. But I did feel a powerful energy.
There is no christmas here. But by pure chance, we actually organized a huge gathering for me to make some choux and talk about my trip on the same day of Christmas eve. And I've been dragged then to the mountain area of Mazandaran where the shaved sandstone mountains wear a beautiful red dress and mate with snowy mounts irrigated by rivers and hot springs.
On the way we even found a human skeleton. Was it someone who fell and died. Someone that just froze to death? Mysterious acquaintance we made. But also a reminder that every second in life has to be enjoyed.
From a meeting to another I've made fanstic friends. And even found a hitchhiker who wants to join me.
My worst fear on this trip was the cold. Especially because all along I slept in my hammock outside. But I've found human warmth. So now I have no more fears. So many doors have opened for me in Iran. That's why I so wanna spend more time here. The show must go on. Iran forever.
I am not on vacation, I have a permanent appointment with humanity.