Alone in Kordestan

After our adventures in the East Azerbaijan Province, Hsiang-Hsin decided she would like to spend some time travelling alone. So we split up, to meet later in Tehran, and i went south to discover the iranian province of Kordestan, home of the kurdish people and to beautiful mountainous landscapes.

I don’t know why, but there was one single ostrich living in a way too small cage by the road. It was cute, but i felt sorry for it. Maybe i should have free it and would have had a new travel partner, now that i was travelling alone…
In a little village on my way to Saqqez i asked for a good place to put up my tent, and i got directed to the local mosque, where i could spend the night. After asking for a market, they told me to wait and someone came back with a tray of dinner for me! And as if that’s not great enough, when i almost finished it, another person came in with another tray, bringing me another dinner! I felt sorry and pointed to the first dinner, and refused it, hopefully making clear that i am very thankfull, nontheless. Later some kids came and brought me a tea-set, and asked some questions. We played a round of Domino and just when they left another bunch of teenagers came and brought me another set of tea 😀 And even though the first pot was not touched and i insisted i would sleep soon, they left it by my side. This is just another example of the great hospitality we received in Iran. Hardly a day goes by without being invited to someones house for the night, a meal or at least a cup of tea.
My favourite ice cream in Iran, with cardamom and pistacchio pieces. Yummy!
I think if there is a world champion in camping it must be Iran. People here love camping, and usually go with the whole family and several generations. During holidays, parks and sideways, especially of popular tourist destinations, are full of tents!
After reaching the peak overviewing the city of Saqqez, i met a man just starting to make a fire. He told me he is making soup. I decided to stay and wait for the soup. One after another, more and more cars came up to the peak and everyone sat down and waited for the soup to be ready. Some people explained me they came from some city 50 km away and that this man and his “Ash” is famous. And it was great indeed, with the sun going down in the back and many people to share the meal.
These signs are pointing to Iraq. My way led me always along the border with Iraq, with the iraqi province of Kurdistan being often just a few kilometers away.
In the early afternoon, when it was the hottest time of the day, i passed a river. A good chance to finally really wash myself. After staying the last nights in the prayer room of a gas station, a mosque and in my tent, without chance to have more than a bit of splash, this was really about time! And since there was no one around, i could even go fully naked, which felt very forbidden in Iran =)
At least he waited till i had my clothes back on: After a while, a cowboy with his bunch of cows came by. He made a fire and boiled tea for us. I shared my melon with him and he took a nap while his cows where hanging out by the river. Carpe Diem!
He showed me a spring, an easy hike up the hill. It was very little water, but someone added the top of a bottle, so it was convenient to fill your own.
These two specimen came out of the water to take a sunbath several times, but they were very shy. As soon as i came closer they jumped back in the water. So that is the closest i could get.

On arriving in Marivan, i asked around for a good place to camp, and someone reccomended me a lake, just a few kilometers out of town. But i didn’t come further than a few hundred meters before someone stopped me. He told me he is head of a local cycling organization and i should wait. He started to call people and the sun was slowly dissapearing behind the houses. After 10 minutes, where he just told me to wait, i got a bit impatient. He didn’t explain me what i should wait for, so with Google Translate i asked him what’s up. He told me he got me a place to stay. So i relaxed a bit, although nobody showed up yet. We waited longer, his brother passed by, we waited more and his brother went to the other side of the road and came back with an XXL ice cream for me. He told me that was the smallest, but for me it was huge! The fruit seller from nearby came close and upon hearing i am from Germany confessed me his love for Hitler: “I am Nazi!” This was by far not the last time that i had this kind of conversation in Iran, but at that time i still got upset. I told him “Hitler not good” and things like that, but i didn’t have the impression it reached him. With the language barrier, a discussion was fruitless anyway and after a little while longer, finally Soran showed up, who told me i will be his guest tonight. Fine 🙂

So, unexpectedly, i stayed the night in a real house, with a real dinner. And what a dinner! I don’t know if it was because it was the last dinner before the end of Ramazan, but it was a feast!
The next morning we had Khorme Sabzi, the iranian national dish and quite unique. It is lamb, cooked with whole limes, kidney beans and looots of blended greens. Another very iranian tradition is the Tahdig. When the rice is boiled, they add some extra oil and wait until the bottom of the rice is very crispy. It is delicious and often served seperately. Besides rice, often people put thin slices of potatoes or flat bread underneath (like in this case).
The next day, we went for a bicycle tour around Lake Marivan. A car stopped and a woman got out and explained she is a reporter from Tehran. She is writing about the man on the left, who is a enthusiastic cyclist and painter, despite him having just one arm.
Before i left i got a little surprise: I became honorable member of their club. Funnily they mixed up my nationality and my last name on the passport, so Ruben Deutsch is now a member of the Marivan Cycling Association. Good enough =)

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