Day 132. 1km. Sarakhs – Mashhad – Sarakhs

Posted: September 5, 2015 in Cycling, Iran
Tags: , , ,

Today we had a lovely 200km drive through the Iranian countryside, escorted by the Iranian border police – destination Mashhad immigration police station. This after a cordial 4 hour stay in the border station. The normal smiles and warmth I have learned to expect from the Iranians was missing. We were, however, offered one cup of tea! My visa was apparently old and not valid, and both Thomas and I had to pay a visit to Mashhad.

We entered the border post at the Turkmenistan border at 8:15am, we left for Mashhad at 12. Every inch of our luggage was checked without our presence in Mashhad (and on the border), Thomas was interviewed for hours, and I was left outside waiting without any explanation. We were not allowed to call the German embassy (we are both German citizens).

At 18:00 we were allowed to pay for a taxi to bring us back to where we started the day – in Sarakhs. We were also allowed to pay for our extra hotel night in Sarakhs. And we were lucky. If we had been difficult, the normal, longer protocol might have been used, which would involve an extra night in Mashhad and one extra day of delay. In that case, we might have, however, received a documented protocol of our visit. And we might have been able to speak to the German embassy. We chose the shorter protocol, and thanked out interviewer with all our hearts.

Today I felt frustrated. Frustrated that I will no longer be able to cross Turkmenistan by bike in the time remaining on my visa. I felt anger. Why was my visa invalid? I had got it from the official Iranian embassy in Tbilisi. I felt immense irritation. The people checking our papers were cordial but unfriendly. They were going to keep me, and a day was going pass. They were just doing their job. And then I felt helplessness. Noone spoke English at the immigration police in Mashhad, and could not explain the problem. I felt helplessness – we were not allowed to call a friend to translate, and we were not allowed to call the German embassy. I felt helplessness – I waited outside for hours while Thomas was being interviewed not knowing what was happening.

When waiting, my mind invented stories. Things that might be wrong. What if they do this? What if they demand that? I had done nothing wrong. Why am I here?

Thomas was the problem. He was questioned for 2 hours. I was questioned for 5 minutes. We could go. No problem. We spent the trip home in the taxi coming up with theories why it all happened. In brief, we don’t know. How do we feel about the day as a whole? We don’t know. We need to sleep over it.

I now feel I can leave, saying that I know Iran. I have experienced the people – their warmth and hospitality. I have felt the watching eye of the Iranian government. Iran is not like any country I have visited, and I am grateful for the experience to travel here.

  1. Day 132 after your experiance I do feel sorry for you, other wise enjoying your trip very much Sitting on my couch at home

  2. giannis says:

    Take it easy, noone knows a country in some days, every cyclist knows that and being sincere on that is not very easy. All governements are basically same. And every country is special. Accept reality, let it all enrich you, be always ready for the unexpected, and congratulations and thanks for describing THIS reality, the things you live, without bells and whistles, giving us the things as they really are.

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