North-West Iran, October 2017


Getting into Iran by your own means is a funny story. I struggled for days in the barren mountains of eastern Turkey, slowly climbing my way up to the 2200m pass, fighting against the wind, the cold, and a stomach parasite that loved me so much that it decided to join me on my road. When I finally made it to the border, my sigh of relief was greeted by raised Kalashnikovs and voices shouting. Yes, I was one hour late. The border crossing closes at 5 pm. They tell me had I arrived yet another hour later, on foot, I would have been shot. So after ages of negotiation with the army under an absolutely stunning full moon, they let me camp at the border crossing, in the middle of the road where we’re standing: there was nowhere else I could go. I was told not to leave my tent until morning.

This all sounds really negative. But to tell you the truth, that full moon was really stunning. Another truth is that the next day was paradise. The officer that let me sleep here greeted me in the morning with a gleaming smile, so happy that I turned out to just be a camper and not a terrorist. And by some divine intervention, the borderline was a clean cut between a dusty barren nowhere-land and a leafy warm paradise. I was expecting a much harsher Iran, but no, this part here was fluffy and green, warm soft lushious and juicy. One thing I did expect: the people are just as friendly, helping, trustworthy and warm-hearted as I had been told by the countless travellers who have come to name Iran the country of hospitality.