Sunday, May 31, 2009
DAY 176 - ALONG THE CASPIAN SEA
Today I was rolling across rice paddy fields and long green flatlands when I caught my first sight of the Caspian Sea (or is it a lake). I was finally back at sea level. In fact I was below sea level as this body of water is at -21 M. I had just completed 130KMs and was looking out for a suitable camping ground, when I got chatting to a guy in his mid-twenties named Mohammad. He invited me to his home to meet his family, have food and stay the night. His timing was perfect and I followed him on his motorbike to their beautiful home. I got to met his father and brother and after about an hour we decided to go to another house, where I understood his mother was going to be. I only wish I had brought my camera so that I could have taken photos and shown ye the events of the evening. The house we visited had 11 people there and we all sat down on the floor to a massive feast, which included 19 bowls (I counted them) of different foods. I made a good attempt to leave that house a stone heavier but we still only ate a little more than half the food put in front of us. Afterwards Mohammad and I went to the local saloon to smoke the water pipe with a few of his mates.Next morning we had bread from the local bakery and a selection of jams (Kiwi,Peach and Orange) all homemade and grown in the back garden. Even the tea we were drinking came from the garden and was been dried out on the living room floor. After breakfast, Mohammad jumped straight into 'tour guide mode' and drove me around the city and pointed out all the worthwhile sights. We visited his former workplace, a 4* hotel. And a 4* hotel has a 4* western toilet. Its amazing the things you miss when you're away from home. After lunch it was time to load up and continue on this long journey eastwards. This was just another example of the outstanding goodness of the Iranian people. The language barrier made conversation difficult but it did not stop this family taking me in and treating me as one of their own. Its amazing. And I'm filthy dirty as I'm cycling along this dusty Caspian Sea dual carriageway. By the end of the day, there are streams of sweat, dust and sun cream running down my face, which makes the home invitations all the more incredible.