For the last 5 months I had been hitchhking jumping from a car to another. I had probably done more than 8000km since I left France.
Once in Iran, I've felt home thanks to the incredible encounters I've made. In two months I hadn't had to ask a single time for a host. I had been kidnapped every single night. I described my iranian experience in this post
So after a first month it felt natural to renew my visa once. And after two months I was so keen on getting a visa extension for an extra month. So I went to the immigration department. The guy first said in Persian five days. I told him i wanted one month and after arguing and telling him that I needed to wait for my french passport to be received at the embassy. He finally leaned for one month. They kept my passport for security purposes they said. I had to pick it up four days later. I was at ease in Iran enjoying my time with some friends and even took a trip in between to the north with my travel mate Ladan who had been my partner in crime on a trip to Baluchestan.
So I went back to get my passport a week later. Once there they told me I had 3 days to leave the country. Huge shock. Alledgedly because it was not safe to stay further in Iran. I tried hard to negociate to get a full month. There was no way. Then I explained to them that with the way I travel, three days is an impossible challenge. I thought last minute to tell them I still hadn't received my passport from France. Which I actually did the same day. They told me to come back the next day to talk to the chief who is the same agent who completely ignored me before. I decide to retreat and come back. Little did I know what was to follow. I Instantly called the french embassy to know if they could do anything about it. Lunch break duty I had to call back at 2.00. In the meantime I was in the kitchen of a café where I was making some sweets. As I called the lady at the embassy she told me with gravity. "I m sorry you have to leave the country". At the exact same time I heard a huge explosion and got frightened. I thought a bomb just blew up. I paused mouth wide open and soon dismissed the lady on the phone with my heart beating like nuts. It was a pot that actually skyrocketed from the stove and repainted the wall with a burnt caramel color. The bakers had actually left a can of condensed milk into a bain Marie, stove on without letting anyone know and left. I got lucky cause I was only a meter away and just received some warm drops of the mixture on my arm. In that moment, call it whatever you want but I got that strong feeling that I just had to leave the country.
I heard of kish island being a free zone. Part of Iran but no need for a visa. I thus started to make my way south to the coast. I had to pass to Shiraz which was more than half way through. Martin a belgian traveller met in Greece doing the same trip as I did was there and hosted by someone. I therefore made a stop there. His host had left him the house for the night. He gave me a warm welcome with a hug and some good lentils and rice. It felt like heaven. What were the odds for two travellers to end up meeting again after a month and feel like home for a night when they have as a one and single home their backpack. Martin tells me about his project to go to Pakistan. And as I met the french consulate who told me that there was no way to get a recommendation letter from them for the pakistan embassy. As Pakistan is considered a sensitive zone. I knew I had no choice but to cross the ocean, three times. From Iran to Kish, Kish to Dubai and Dubai or Oman to India. What a challenge hitchhiking. In the morning I was secretely hoping not to continue my quest alone. As hitching a boat wasn't the easiest not to say the least. And prayer heard, Martin all the sudden decided to join me.
We hitched to the harbour of Bandar e charak. Arrived at night and slept in the hammocks. I had such a peaceful night with the hammock swaying into the wind and lulled by the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore. The boat is at 7.30. We woke up at 6.00 and went to the office. As we explain to the agent how we have come from France and how we expect to get to Kish with no money he frowned. And after a short minute told us to wait for an hour and a half. We understood there was some hope for us but we didn't manage to get a single grin from him. Comes the time he asks for our passports. My visa expires on the same day. We then explained to him that we go to Kish island to renew my visa. He tells us to check with the police agent at the gate. The police man tells us instantly no problem. The agent makes us understand we have to go back to the police to get a paper from him. The ping pong game is on and the police man finally tells us to go to the boat boarding area. Martin and I look at each other quite excited but reserved as long as we aren't stepping onto the boat. At the entrance the ticket agent is here again and tells us to wait until everyone is on board. In the meantime they collect our passports to show them to the captain. The suspens is intense. We got the go. Once on board I feel like shaking it but we hold our joy. I contented myself by giving Martin a high five.
Once in Kish. We go to the immigration who told us that I cannot stay on the island with no visa. The free zone applies only for those flying in. I have to rush to the office to see if I can get a few day extension to allow us to find a way out. After an hour debating with the the chief of immigration. They finally agree to give me 5 days. But they have to keep my passport until Monday as Tehran office didn't enter any data electronically. It is saturday and sunday is a holiday as it is the anniversary of the revolution. I tell them what if I can leave the country earlier but there is no other way. We thus investigate with Martin about the boats to Dubai or Oman. It's a no go. Only fisherman and cargos are going there but no passenger is allowed. Our only choice the plane. We inquire with an agency nearby. They tell us that there is no private planes going in and out of Kish. And that we will never get a ticket for free. I look at Martin and we knew what to do. We went to the airport with a local who dropped us. Asked him to write a sign in Farsi for us stating that we would like for people to participate for a flight ticket to Dubai as we have no money. We usually on this peniless trip never ask for money. But we are stuck and more than ever a time limit. After 5 mintutes, we have collected 150,000 rials and we need 2,700,000 rials. As we have time we feel confident. All the sudden I feel a hand grabbing the sign and another grabbing my arm. I realize it's the airport security whom without a word is urging us into the airport m. Martin told me, we will get in troubles if we follow them. I told him, we'll get bigger problems if we don't. We are dragged into an office. A few agents are here and we tell them about our crazy trip and our goal to India. They look both amused and puzzled. Then the chief comes in. He wears the face of authority and duty. I feel quite relaxed though. He asks us to empty our pockets. After running through our documents, he stops on a wrecked plastic bag I had in my pocket. He smells it. I laugh so hard. Just thinking, you really think I'll have any illicit substance with me. Martin tells me off and the chief tells me it's neither funny nor a game. Then Martin tells me he's a bit anxious about the outcome of this story. I told him we'll be fine. As I thought that they wouldn't let two guys without money and with a visa running out run around the island and that in the meantime they wouldn't throw us into jail as I thought we didn't do anything wrong. I even tell Martin laughing maybe we will get a plane ticket. The chief is playing tough but I so know tonight he'll be laughing very hard with his wife about us. As after two months we knew a bit of Farsi the guy actually when he sees my face tells me in Farsi. I know you perfectly speak farsi stop pretending. I tell him a thousand times with a grin that I totally do not master the language and that it's natural after two months to have basics. So he starts telling us "fugees" "fugees". I understood he thought we were refugees but pretended not to get it as the word wasn't even coherent. The chief was playing tough and writing a manual report about us with a header letter with the symbol of Iran on it. Afterwards he told us with a huge smile You are famous. Took the camera and made a shot of Martin and I holding the sign we made to get a ticket. Then comes another man in a black suit. After a few minutes of repeating the story he says you'll get a plane to dubai tomorrow. And he instantly hands me a phone. A lady with an iranian accent who spoke in a perfect french summarises the situation. You are not allowed to get money in the streets it is not legal. Given the situation the governor of Kish has decided to put you under surveillance at the hotel tonight. Don't worry you are not prisoners. And tomorrow you'll get a flight to Dubai.
I was naively telling them that my passport was at the immigration office which was closed. They said they would reopen the office to get it. After a good night in the hotel, a king meal offered by the hotel and a night tour on the island where nobody was actually following us. We went to the airport and waited for the manager of the company to arrive. He's not aware of our situation. But within half an hour we are all sorted and our tickets are issued. Until the very last gate neither Martin nor myself could believe that it was true. Obviously I wouldn't recommend anyone to try this ever again as we got the beginners luck and as it was so unseen before. We don't want here to launch a fashion because Iran is a strict country and you wouldn't want to spend a single day into jail. The plane took off and we saw the edges of the island vanishing slowly.
After a quick stay in Dubai and an interesting session of urban anthropology and a warm welcome from a pakistanese family found on the way.
We continued our way to Oman by land where we got drunk on crazy hikes and great contact with the locals for 2 weeks.
Martin told me the holi festival will be held soon in India.
From the very south of Oman in Salalah we checked the airport for private planes or any commercial flight. The manager of the airline tells us there is no way for us to fly out this way.
We then initiated a run to the airport of Muscate 1100km away in one day. We knew we had enough for two flight tickets as some locals met on the way were willing to support our journey. Once at the airport at 11.00pm, not really surprising the tickets are a lot more expensive. We have barely enough for a ticket. We decideed to collect the remainder just asking the people to participate with one omani rial if they can. The union makes the force. We prefered to play it low profile and ask a lot of people rather than collecting crazy amounts with singles. But the reality was quite amazing a few generous people gave us sometimes from 5 to 15 rials. In less than 30 minutes we had enough to take the morning flight. After sleeping on the bench of the airport we embarked on the plane for Mumbai. And I realized after checking the date that I had left home exactly 6 months ago which quite an amazing timing. I left Iran by force on the day anniversay of the revolution. And entered India exactly half a year after I became a nomad. We got the see the urban jungle of Mumbai from the sky. And we were soon to be thrown into this jungle as we landed.
Le Patissier voyageur
On a permanent appointment with humanity
To see where what way I have been taking to India, check out my map.