Like 2 children that were shipped off to grandma for the weekend, we are now sent back to Tehran by train. Saeed has an appartment in Tehran and he has been so kind to let us stay there for the next couple of days until we sort out what to do with the motorbike. The apartment is in the northern part of Tehran, so the next few days we spend commuting back and forth to the workshop. In the meantime Ramadan has started, making the food arrangements just that little bit more complicated.
On Monday when we get back to the workshop, we get the message that the bike will be up and running by Wednesday. We are not really convinced they will pull this off since it still requires an enormous amount of work. Seeing the state the engine is in at the moment, it would require a not so small miracle. But hey, anything is possible in Iran! And it would be the best birthday present ever for Jo!
And indeed, by Tuesday afternoon a new crankshaft pin arrives and work on the engine resumes. When we arrive at the workshop on Wednesday, Mahammat is doing the final bits of assembly on the motorbike. I can see the look of relief on Jo’s face when they fire up the engine. This is the best sound ever.
They take the motorbike outside and after a short testrun by Mahammat, it’s Jo’s turn.
The crew at Mahak Ciklet really did work miracles and we cannot thank them enough for helping us out!
On Tuesday Ahmad had invited us for dinner at his house with some other friends. So when we told them it was Jo’s birthday the next day, they decided that this needed to be celebrated, with a cake, candles and the works. So on Wednesday evening, Ahmad takes us to Farhad and Mitra’s house outside Tehran. We are overwhelmed by their hospitality (and food!). Farhad and Mitra are the kind of cool parents that take you in and make you feel at home instantly. Their children, Pooriyah and his wife Faranak, Parastoo and her daughter Baran, and their friend Reza also join the party.
The cutest member of the family definitely is Baran, Mitra and Farhad’s granddaughter. She is just simply adorable! She more or less lays claim to Jo to play games with her on an old smartphone.
Before leaving Tehran, Ahmad had told us that we would get to experience how Iranians partied, with loads of food of course (we already knew that), drinking, singing and dancing. He was not exaggerating!
Somehow he managed to get a cake and candles. We just ignore the fact that Jo is getting younger. The cake however is delicious.
Of course, we also have to tell them all about the motorbike and how it was fixed. When we tell them we want to take it out for a short test ride the next day, they all decide for us that we need to go camping in the jungle. Well, ok then… By now we have learned to just go with the flow. Plans are made for the next day. We go and collect the motorbike in Tehran, ride with Ahmad to Mitra and Farhad and from there we continue east into the mountains.
Jo needs a haircut though, so Pooriyah proposes to trim his hair before we set off.
By the time we leave it’s already well past the 6PM we had agreed. We learn that Iranians take road fatigue very seriously so we are stopped by the family every half hour, to buy some groceries, to buy a tent, to have tea, to get fuel, to get money…
Along the way, a pick-up truck overtakes me and the driver is gesticulating frantically. I can’t make out what he is trying to say so he tries his luck with Jo. Apparently he’s inviting us for dinner and a sleep-over at his place, at 100km/hour on the highway! This is just too crazy, but I do feel a bit sad we cannot take him up on his offer though.
By the time we get to the jungle, it’s pitch dark. The park we were aiming at is on a hillside and it has all those typical little huts that Iranians like so much. It looks like it’s pretty full already but the family clearly know where they are going. So when we get to the end of the road we have to admit that we are not overly surprised that they drive straight into the forest.
Jungle is a bit of a big word. It’s more like a normal forest as we know it, but it’s hot and very humid, even at 11PM at night, so in that sense it probably comes close to a jungle. The family was looking for a nice secluded spot so they would not be disturbing any neighbors. As soon as they get out of the car, off come the scarfs and on go the t-shirts. The tents are pitched and the camp fire is lit and out comes the barbeque and the booze. This is proper camping!
The next morning we are woken up by a beautiful blue sky and bright sunshine. The moment the sun hits the tent though, we just have to get up. It’s way too hot in the tent.
Mitra is already preparing eggs for breakfast and we just enjoy the quiet morning in this beautiful setting.
Just before lunchtime, a car pulls up and 3 men get out. I immediately sense that this is serious and when I see Mitra, Faranak and Parastoo grab their hijab, I quickly do the same. These men are from the ‘morality police’ and we are breaking the law. Most of the fuss is just to show they have power. The women are reprimanded for not wearing their scarfs and they search the cars for alcohol. Luckily we finished the bottle of homebrew yesterday, disguised now as just another empty bottle of juice. Because they cannot find anything else, they turn to our motorbikes, demanding to see the carnets. Of course, we don’t carry those since they are only needed when we cross the border so we left them in Tehran. The police very well know that we don’t need them once we crossed the border, but they decide they want to make a point anyway. After a lot of discussion, they note down everyone’s details and set off.
The party has lost it’s fun though, so we decide to just have a quick dinner and then head back to the city.
Mitra has been cooking abgusht all morning. It’s a stew with beef, chickpeas, beans, tomatoes, kumin and water. The little pot has been boiling away for hours and the smell coming out of it is just simply delicious.
It’s actually a soup and main dish combined. The broth on top is eaten as a soup first and then the rest of the stew is mashed up. While Majid mashes the stew, Mitra mixes the soup with leftover lavash bread giving it a pasta-like texture. It may be called ‘a poor man’s dinner’ but it tastes heavenly!
While we are packing, Mitra can’t resist the urge to climb the tree. It’s easy to see where Baran gets her adventurous, tomboy-like spirit from.
We get back to Tehran quite late but the traffic is ok. A quick dinner, some laundry, packing and then off to bed. Tomorrow we get going!