Saturday, May 30, 2009


I was cycling along when a guy named Samad drove up along side me and we had a chat. He was a schoolteacher in the next town and had good english and invited me to his home for food, lodging and a chat. Samad told me that in Iran it is believed that the traveller, especially the foreign traveller, is sent by God and we must do our best to cater for him. Personally I'm surprised at God sending one so unclean, but Samad didn't seem too bothered. He took me into town to meet the locals and we went for a drive to see the nearby sights.As we were driving around we were stopped at one of Irans' many roadside police check points. Now before I tell this story, I'd just like to point out that there are loads of roadside checks from the police but all through Iran the police have either ignored me or been welcoming to me. (In fact once I got a police escort through a town. They stopped the traffic at each roundabout and waved me through.) And that's what made tonights' proceedings all the more bizarre.So we were stopped at one of Irans' many police check points. The policeman became suspicious of my business in north eastern Iran. Samad explained I was an Irish tourist travelling through the region and that we had met on the road and that he had invited me to his home.
"But he could be a spy", replied the policeman.
"Who would he be spying for?",Samad asked.
"The Irish", replied the policeman.
And so 6 months into GCR, fears were raised that I may be an Irish spy working in Iran. We went down to the police station to answer questions about what a foreign tourist would be doing here. I explained that Ireland was a neutral country, whose small army was only involved in peace-keeping missions and that Ireland and Iran were friends. Just to make this clear. I was only been questioned, not arrested. Anyway, I was cleared to go and there was a lot of shaking of hands, but I had to return to the station the next morning with my bicycle and all my luggage to meet the police chief. This big old fellow took one look at me, said nothing and handed me back my passport. He knew I was neither sent from God nor from the espionage unit of some foreign government. I pedalled out of town quite chuffed that I could be mistaken for 007 material.

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