As we pull up to the Iranian border two guys come walking toward us. Telling us where to stop, to get out of the car. Give your passports at this window. So far so good. Then when the first border control guy was finished with our documents he hands them over to one of the other guys who was standing next to a window. Why!? He didn't even work for the border control. While he is on the phone yelling at someone, probably just his wife, he looks at Tom en assures him that it will be fine with a smile that could make a used car salesman blush. Moments later we cross the border with Boris and now comes the fun part. An English speaking companion of him tells us Boris has to stay at the border until the next day and cannot come into Iran yet. Tomorrow the guy on the phone, let's call him the mustache, will arrange the papers we need for Boris to enter Iran. F*ck no... This can't be right. So Tom goes to look for an English speaking border control guy who can give us more information. Tom actually succeeds in finding one, but he just tells Tom again not to worry, all will be fine. And before we know it he is talking to the mustache in Farsi! So either we are getting f*cked, or we are getting proper f*cked by the border control as well... So, long story short. We have no allies here, we have the mustache who claims he is helping us, and then there is his English speaking companion who looks like Luigi from Super Mario, so let's call him Luigi. Luigi will take us to a hotel where we can spend the night. Much cheaper than the hotel at customs. It's owned by a friend of his, special price 10$/15$.. And also forbidden to stay in the car. "It is holiday today" and the border is closed for Boris without the Carnet de Passage, a kind of visa for the car stating it can be imported/ exported into the country also that a company is liable if the car is left within Iranian territory. Right..... Well... Lest just go with the flow. Feeling agitated and helpless we are driven to this hotel a friend of Luigi owns. Which by the way turned out to cost $30...
7-29 17:30 our room isn't that bad at all.
There are two beds, the light works, the air conditioning works and we have running water. So that's more than we expected. However, some things could have been better. The bathroom was about 1,5m2 and had a huge basin with pink flowers, a hole in the ground for a toilet and a shower in between the hole and basin. There was also a pair of plastic sandals in the bathroom covered in mold size 42, perfect as a welcome present for Tom. There were 4 more plastic sandals next to the front door, all different sizes with no complete pair to be seen. The mattresses were man made foam and felt slightly damp. In the kitchen the soap resembled Slush Puppy and a wet towel was hanging over one chair. And when the neighbors came home we realized their airco was installed against our windowsill. It sounded like an electric lawnmower for most of the night. After Luigi gives us some Iranian money for the night he heads off and tells us to be ready at 9 in the morning.
We just came from the beach where it was extremely crowded, and local people were setting up camping tents, BBQ, tea and stuff. At a local diner we sit ourselves down and order some food and drinks. After looking at the clock, Toms phone, Saskia's phone, back to the clock and Toms watch we noticed something was off. The clock and Toms phone said the time was half a hour later then Tom watch and Saskia's phone. That's odd.. It took us a while to conclude that in Iran it is half an hour later than in Azerbaijan. Wait, what...? Yeah like half a timezone. During dinner we were wondering why everyone was at the beach, so we asked the guy behind the counter. "Why is everybody at the beach?".... And I shit you not, hit reply was "to swim." No shit Sherlock. Damn.
After Some chilling and planing the next day, we went to bed to the sound of the air-conditioning unit en hoped for the best the next day.
7-30 8:30 The alarm goes off.
It D-day for Boris. After we had eaten something and packed our bags we walk downstairs. At 5 past 9 Luigi pulls up, as planned... So far so good. He takes us to the border where he lets us out of the car en goes to park himself. At this point every move Luigi or the mustache makes we think is a trick or part of their charade to get the most money off us and that it's all just one big show. So keep that in mind well reading onwards. We have to go trough customs again, which resulted in some bag touching. I really wonder if he thinks he is doing a good job at that moment. It was a great moment when we saw Boris again. He was still there just like we left him. We repack our shit and drive toward another building "Transit and TIR" it said. Luigi goes to work elsewhere on the customs area but assured us he would be called once our paperwork was completed. We were going to have to do this without a translator as the mustache did not speak English. Let's do this !
7-30 9:35 T
he mustache arrives calling and shouting to his phone. His wife again probably we assume. And now the good stuff. After the mustache takes Tom's and Boris' passport, Tom is like glue to the Mustache and follows him al over the room. Saskia instructed Tom to really make the mustache work and pressure him by standing close to him, looking over his shoulder and following him everywhere. We weren't going to be the kind of tourists you could easily get money off. The room is like a long hall with at one side there are some kind of lockers numbered from 0 to 30,which fold out to become desks. This was very good as we used it to learn to read and recognize numbers in Farsi, which as of now we can! The other side there were the desks for the employees behind glass windows with marble at the bottom. There are 4 employees present... Well there are 4 guys, non of them is working. Accept for the mustache, who is running around shouting to the employees, knocking on the windows, photocopying things, phoning others, shouting more and not even stopping for tea like the other people are doing. Clearly he wants this to be done quickly. Like we do. We are not the only people who need a Carnet. A lot of truck drivers are coming in in waves, with or without a 'fixer'. They are all shouting as well and waving document which resulted in live entertain for Sas who just sat quietly in all her layers of clothes. She was the only female present and got some strange looks.
7-30 11:00 no progress yet
Accept the mustache is noticeably sweating and is carrying two sets of 15 pages each. And these are all for Boris, full of information stamps, seals and ink. But clearly it's still not enough. He tells Tom he is getting a stamp upstairs and walks out the door. He's probably taking a break and drinking some tea. When he comes back his back is all sweaty. Hmmm.... Perhaps he went for a run.
7-30 12:30 a third guy arrives.
Not very muscular but looking at his choice of clothing he thinks he is. Not very sure what his job is in this transaction but he did send the top document to someone via what's app. Someone we don't know had to approve the deal who was also not present. But it seemed like this deal would go through soon.
We are now almost at the outside the last set of custom guys need to check Boris. The paperwork we think was ok although the mustache is still running around with both copies in his hands, pages opened, searching for someone. Luigi sees our doubts, comes towards us saying that all is good. We ask what the costs will be. "600" he replies... "No, that's too much" Tom replies. "What is?" Luigi asks. "600 dollars" Tom says. "No, no I didn't say that. "360 dollars in total, 30 for hotel, 30 for cash and 300 for car" Luigi says. Hmmm ok. That's a good price. We agree and feel we have won this battle.
After Luigi and the mustache wrote something or the car we thanked them and drove off into Iran. A wave of relief washed over us as the mustache and Luigi disappear in our mirrors. We chose to drive along the north coast and not hit Tehran.
7-30 18:59 Boris hits 200.000km on his dashboard!!!!
We have driven for quite a while now and are getting hungry. Near the beach we thought we saw a lovely place, so we make a u-turn and head back for that place. After parking the car at the campsite we see that the place turns out to be a shisha bar. At the parking place we managed to find some good Hamburgers.... Damn, still no Iranian food. But as we were hungry our standards had dropped immensely.
As other cars pass us waving and yelling "hello" and "welcome to Iran" while honking their horn we feel welcomed. They sometimes ask Toms name or what country we are from. Very nice people. Al around us we see Peugeots, so Boris feels at home!
It still is rush hour in Iran. Near cities it's traffic jams al the way with people still honking and yelling. Children are also climbing into the windows to get a glimpse of Boris. At this point Tom is driving for 9 hours strait and is completely wrecked. Saskia take over the wheel and feels very safe to do so as we have seen many female Iranian drivers.
Saskia feels the day has lasted long enough and wants to rest her eyes. She looks for a good place to park and after a while feels that the side of the road between two cities is fine and parks Boris. We pop out the bed and go to sleep. We don't really care anymore whether it's safe or loud. We just want to go to sleep as the heat is starting to get to us. Especially as we are having to wear more clothes than we would like.
The alarm goes off. Sas has had a terrible night due to the heat but we brush our teeth and then it's back on the road again. After several kilometers Tom's shoulder starts to ache. So after filling up Boris Saskia takes over and drives on. Everything goes well even though it's sweltering hot. Our breakfast consisted of extremely dry muffins and hot cola; Lovely. So no beaches or places to eat could be found whatsoever. Strange! All the Irani just sat next to the motorway in tents.
We pas through some beautiful national parks. Loads of green trees and huge mountains. The sandy mountains have all kind of colors with shades of orange, pink, green, grey and the spot of white and black . very very nice and it reminds Sas of Bolivia so she feels right at home.
We're close to the border and need to fill up our tank before we cross as we want to enter Turkmenistan with a full tank. So we ask a local guy who first starts pointing at all his rings. Not sure why. And then to Boris.. He then signals us to follow him and he actually takes us to a petrol station. No detour! After we filled Boris up to the absolute max we went on to find the border, a small town called Bajgerjan.
We've reached the border and have to conclude that it is closed. We knew this already but just wanted to check. So we drove back through town to find a place to park boris to spend the night. We saw a car in the distance on the other side of the river bed with a tent next to it on our way into town. We drove back and pointed Boris in that direction and switched on al his lights to see if we could recognize anything like stickers or so. We did not... So we decided to drive towards them and be sure because we want to know. At this moment we think they presume we are the Iranian police with our huge lights... While getting closer they start walking towards Boris with flashlights. We roll down the window and Sas asks "are you doing the rally". At this moment we see two people, a car and a tent but that's as much as we can make out. Their response: "Ohhh Yeah!!" And that's how we met Mads and Sonny from team Tea For Love!