November 26. Orumiyeh – Azar Shahr [37°51´32.9“, 045°56´37.8“]

Km today:121 (868)

First day in Iran and a lot to tell – forget everything you believe to know about this
country – I am up in the highlands and its freezing cold!

First time in this trip I wake up in a hotel. And I wake up early which is 7:30 local, but 6 o clock Turkish time. I have little breakfast (carrotjam!) and after I have success going to internet. Facebook and youtube as well as many other sites are not possible. Nevermind. The loads of hot water I had yesterday were gone in the morning so I ask for help at the reception. I talk to the manager on the phone as he speaks perfect English and tell him the problem. He sounds very sweet so I ask him for a mechanic too to solve the starting problem (still I am not sure if suryananda has full power, I want the spark plugs to be checked too).

At half past ten I meet karim, the manager at the reception and he is as cute as he sounded. By the way the reason why I had hot water in the morning – hot was marked blue and cold red at the sink… He is ready to go to a mechanic with me to translate. I go out to the carpark and fix everything for leaving. For a moment I am shocked because I can´t find the carnet the passage but minutes after I find it. When Karim comes I try to start the engine. But as this was the coldest night yet (10°below zero) the battery is finished before the engine starts. Suryananda is pissed because I slept in the hotel!

Karim jumps in his car and picks up a mechanic to be back hardly 15 minutes later. The mechanic discovers a problem in the spark plug cable and replaces it with a normal electric cable just winding the iron together (…). He adjusts the carburetor and suryananda start without any problem. He asks me if the sound is ok but I simply can´t tell as there is a powercut and the generator of the hotel next to us sounds like a helicopter landing. However I want to leave so I am satisfied. Back at the reception I ask Karim if it is a problem to sleep in the car in Iran. He tells me its no problem but better to ask police so I can sleep inside a police station and not on the road. Especially in Baluchistan (eastern Iran). I know this is true. I´d search at least for a 24h petrol station anyway.

Though it is a little strange to me why all the people on my way think and tell bad things about their neighbor tribes. Turkish are afraid of Kurdish, Kurdish are afraid of people from Baluchistan. And in this area it has nothing to do with any political borders. Here the borders seem to be inside the country and the real, political borders are right in the middle of the real county Karim explains the way very exactly and I say “thank you” (I forgot farsi thank you again) many times.

I get lost twice in the streets of Orumiyeh but everytime there a very friendly people helping me. 20 minutes after leaving the hotel I am on the road to Tabriz. The road is flat like a lake but still we are not able to go faster than 80 km in an hour. Feels like one or maybe even two spark plugs not working again so I decide to search for a mechanic. I cross the bridge on Orumiyeh lake and what I see is something between amazing and an ecological catastrophe. The lake itself is saltwater in a concentration like the dead sea but the water is extremely low. The “bridge” is made out of rocks and sand making a wall crossing nearly all the lake. At the end of this “bridge” there is a small real bridge so ships can pass… The view is still amazing…

I am used to find mechanics in every small village directly at the roadside in india but here – nothing. I stop at a small teastall and using the images in the no words dictionary again I ask for a mechanic. 50km (!) they tell me.

Slowly we go on passing a few dessert hills and then for 20km crossing a superflat area which has been lake years ago. (The water of the feeding rivers is nowadays mostly used for Irrigation – funny enough I see a big sign telling even in English about how important lakes like this are for the local ecosystem). At the end of this flats I see a little city. As it has been nearly 50km since the teastall I believe I will find a mechanic here and leave the motorway to Tabriz. Soon I see a mechanic on the roadside and stop there.

Using my lighter I try to explain the spark plugs have a problem. Immediately five people start working and another one, who speaks a little English asks me if I am hungry. It is freezing cold even though the sky is blue so I am very happy about this offer as I haven’t seen any opened place to eat or even drink a tea around. We go to a small restaurant in the neighborhood that I thought is closed. Of course I leave the car key at the mechanics and for a short moment I get a little worried as all my things are in there. Passport and money a little hidden but computer, camera, gps and things like these relatively open…. So I ask “lock the car?” “no problem!” my new friend replies.

I know “no problem” so I don’t think about it any further. The restaurant is amazing! People are sitting on wooden plateaus on a carpet having big pillows for the back. I enjoy food and tea. Before I realize what is happening my new friend shakes my hand and leaves. Obviously he has been in a hurry before already which didn’t stop him translating and spending time for me. I ask for the bill but it has already been paid. I can´t even say “thank you” (not even in English).

Back at the workshop everything is fine. Spark plugs ARE a problem. One is completely finished as the ceramic for isolation is broken. It takes a few hours to get new ones so I wait inside the workshop drinking tea with many many very nice people of which no one spoke one word in a language I know. No problem… we enjoy!

Later somebody comes again who speaks little English and he translates their questions for me. They ask me why I drive an old car like this? Are the people in Austria so poor? (They were really concerned – I could see in their faces when this was translated) I have several short discussions about “our nations being enemies” (of course I try to tell them we are neutral – but some of them don’t even know Austria – So I am a westerner…). Anyway all of us agree in the fact where the real terrorist on the planet are – bombing foreign countries. In fact no one of these helpful, loving people could ever be my enemy.

When the spark plugs arrive suryananda is fixed within minutes and they tell me to start the engine. Even though it´s freezing cold and the engine was not running for hours it starts immediately. YEAH! Problem solved! (I think). But then somebody else who speaks little English tells me the mechanic hears a strange sound at the cylinder head. I already had a feeling like it should be checked a few thousand kilometers after everything was been repaired in Istanbul.

Sun sets and the mechanic tells me via the English speaking guy he wants to check the engine. I agree even though he says he can´t make it before tomorrow morning because it will take 3-4 hours and he will probably need spare parts which are not available at night. I ask for the price which is one million (60€) for the working time. Nice price I think and I am very happy to have found a mechanic who listens to the sound of the engine and tells me the problem. Before most of them fix just a little so I can go on but this one seems to really know what he is doing. I already thought the problem with the mechanics is the language – but it´s simply hard to find a good mechanic.

So I will stay here for tonight. I think about my gas tank as I believe its nearly empty and ask if it´s possible to refill it. It is freezing cold as I am at an elevation of 1300m out somewhere in the dessert – night will be even worse. “No problem” I hear. We take the gas tank and jump in a car of one of the guys surrounding me. It´s too late already to refill mine so the man at the shop where we go offers to borrow me one of his tanks for tonight.

Without me even thinking about it we stop at a small food store. Of course I need something to eat! Inside everything is very unfamiliar so in the first moment I don’t see anything but potato chips. But slowly I look a little closer and find all I need – tomatoes, bread, butter, a little chocolate – Perfect!

Coming back we have little problem with the connection of the gas tank but again they work half an hour in the freezing cold to fix it. Using a lighter they check if all is ok and seeing my face when they do so they laugh. Seconds later they take of the tube, open the gas tank and put the lighter directly in front of the tube. A big flame appears but when they close the tank it disappears again not even touching the tube (the gas has to mix with oxygen before burning so it´s not possible the flame can touch the tube – western countries are sometimes simply boring I think).
When fixing the gas tank they see the instrument in the living room and ask me to make some music. I take the doumbek and play a little. They love it. Because of the cold I stop soon to turn on the heating and prepare suryananda for the night.

I park her in the back of the workshop and a very friendly guy who just came invites me and my driver for having tea. He speaks little English (he´d prefer Turkish or Japanese(!)) but I speak only English german and little hindi – sorry. I read in the guidebook it is important to speak a little farsi when travelling in Iran. This is (up to now) simply not true. People who want to talk but speak only different languages (most people here speak Turkish, Kurdish and farsi) take a cellphone immediately to call somebody who speaks English – no problem!.

After tea they make sure it is warm enough inside suryananda to sleep there. Like in Hosap where 3 people invited me to sleep at their home they are really concerned if it will be warm enough for me. It is warm inside! Until now I only turned on the heating half power because I wanted to save gas. In Iran Gas and Oil seems to be like air and water. No problem, so I turn on heating fullpower. When we check after having tea its already pretty warm inside and during I write blog I remove more and more “onion layers”. Little later I have more than 25° inside and fall asleep happily.

Until now I had a little the feeling like I miss the sights. Now I realize this trip is not really about architecture, history or nature tourist places. It’s a trip to the people, to their hearts and to mine. Communication is much more than words – it is love, it is music, it is smile and hugs! Thank you for all the love you give me, I am sorry I can in no way remember all of your names – I promise I will remember your eyes, your smile and your inner (and outer) beauty! I will keep you in my heart.

What a day! I love too much! Thank you!

One thought on “November 26. Orumiyeh – Azar Shahr [37°51´32.9“, 045°56´37.8“]

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