The whitest of Iranian cities, Varzaneh gives the impression of a ghost town. The provincial town in the desert with the same name is famous for this, that most women here wear not black but white chadors. The view, especially during the evening hours, when they go or come back from the mosque after the evening prayer, I'd classify it as of surreal genre. It looks as if, dozens of apparitions overrun every alley of the city.
Deserts are quite a tasty treat for tourists, especially from other climatic zones, for example ours. One of the local attractions of Varzaneh is a rally through the sandy dunes of the desert with the same name. I wasn't interested, because I have had enough deserts in recent months. I went on a ride to the Ghortan citadel. Of course, by bike. Somewhere in a small village in the middle of the desert is an impressive clay adobe building is standing. abandoned, empty and without crowds of tourists.
Along the way, local boys on motorbikes ticked me off. Just like almost every dog chases a cat, yes, in Iran, almost every boy aged 10+ he must chase a solo riding female cyclist. They did not know, however, that I cleaned up my frontbag, and on top of things there I held a knife, which 4 for years I carried deeply in my side pocket of my panniers and pepper spray or other kind of defensive spray, I don't know exactly because I got it from a host in Dubai, for my journey in Iran. Therefore, I greeted the young men not with bread and salt but with these accessories in hand. It was nice to see that surprise in their eyes, speeding up and disappearing in a second!!
Two days earlier, however, I finally decided to move my ass from Yazd. The last weeks have exhausted my tolerance for sitting and thoughts of trying to ride a bike have started to bother me.
The mixed way of travelling meaning a bus and + 50 km cycling to Varzaneh went smoothly, so I dared to double the number of days of cycling to two and from Varzaneh I cycled to Esfahan. Two days on a bike is already something! I put on my cap, I put the hood of a sweatshirt and jacket over my head. I looked in the mirror. I looked uninteresting which was good, probably not so much, to take me as a man though. Why this camouflage is explained in previous posts. ten and ten.
Along the way, the Iranian province in all its glory – forgotten caravanserai, torn desert ground, small fields, pigeon towers ... A smart building like a tower. A number of shelves and holes were built inside, in which pigeons nest. Their droppings were carefully collected to fertilize the soil.
At night I settled in roadside restaurant shelters - of course with the permission of the owner.
Isfahan is a lively modern city with a rich and long history, full of architectural pearls. Iran is generally polite and secure from the perspective of large cities. The tourist is looked after, zagadywany, Tune-up, treated and invited at almost every step. As they usually describe it. Black chadors give way to more liberal women's dresses, I even saw bicycle paths and women on bicycles!
Isfahan is known in Iran as a city of bicycles. City authorities promote cycling, invested in bike paths, the only ones I've seen in Iran. Many locals, mainly young women, despite the existing fatwa – in other words, recognition of cycling for women “haram” which is unclean and incompatible with Islamic principles, founded, that they can ride a bike in public, if they follow the strict Iranian dress code, which requires women to cover their hair and body in public. However, from what I learned from last, 2019 fatwa is required even in Isfahan.
Probably the direction of my journey - from underdeveloped, the traditional and poorer south to the more liberal north of Iran had a big impact on my perception of that country. However, the north is different.
When I decided to continue cycling after Esfahan, I had to set myself some rules. So I decided with myself, that I don't stop and talk if there is only a man in the vehicle. Sorry, gentlemen, you're cool, but I was a little bit discouraged here.
I became a healer! Efficiently, I quickly and painlessly heal cars and motorcycles standing on the side of the road, which suddenly break down, when I approach. The owners eagerly watch and knock them, glancing at me out of the corner of an eye, And when I pass them, strangely enough, the machine is like new and moves on.
Natanz is one such places, which you don't know, that you want to see until you are here. Spring is in full swing, snowy peaks of the mountains, trees in flowers, I take pictures around everything, these trees, summits, the flowers… and again in the back mirror I can see a car slowly following me, it is no longer funny .. the men inside want me to stop and talk, but sorry guys, my rule is now, I'm not talking, so I cycled on.. Not too far though, in 5 minutes they are back, but they are accompanied by a police car. Secret police. Ask me why I take pictures? Would you please let us see it. Do I still have another camera?? Yes I do, but I didn't take it out now.. Would you please let us see it. And what do I do here??
Everything is eagerly viewed and viewed. In a serious manner. Fortunately, after a long time and internal consultations they let me go.
And I remember, that I was not only me checked and interrogated here, I read, that it happened to other cyclists. Somewhere among these flowers and mountain peaks the Iran's largest uranium enrichment plant is placed, foundations for the production of nuclear weapons. Secret and confidential place. ok, such a digression yet. Don't let drone fly in Iran. Last year, several well-known Australian bloggers were detained because they released a drone.. It seems to, they served more than a year before the embassy managed to get them out.
The city of Kashan is my Iranian no 2. Stucco on the homes of rich burghers.. tiles, Mosques of mosques and baths, gardens.. Say what you like, but the architecture of Persia, is simply stunning.
I didn't know then, that I will not leave Iran at all before the spring festival Nowruz and that the era of socialization is yet to come.. to be continued.