There´s a saying in Farsi that says: “To talk about happiness is already half of the joy”. Farsi is a language that seems poetry on many of its expressions. A language full of beautiful expressions and comparisons used to communicate; so many that I could write a book with them.
Travelling with Mahdi has brought us new oportunities, like being closer to people; for example, approaching to the nomads of the “black tents” who told us their way of life and how they´ve become an endangered species, since their children don´t want that life anymore, and prefer the city, a regular job and a television, a computer, and eventually change their freedom for a bunch of debts with the bank. Nomads who offered us diary prepared with the tradicional formulas, that sometimes take days to elaborate. Tea, bread and diary were shared while we enquired about each other…and we both were amazed with the other´s life and we both felt the bond of those who don´t live on a permanent place, whose lives happen in motion and in close contact with the nature.
We could be close to ranchers, to curious characters from remote villages in the middle of the desert and we could chat, communicate and truly understand who they are and how they live. We found in the mountains a mystic Sufí who had lived 27 years in the wild and for the whole morning, under a huge 600 years old tree, we opened to each other, sharing dreams and beliefs, lessons and insecurities. His definitions of life and Islam were surprising for us and allowed us to discover a new way to understand this religion. He defined “mysticism” as “the artistic side of religion” and he told us, looking at us with a serene look:
“Some people pray to go to Heaven…traders, some to not go to Hell….slaves, others pray for everyone….that is the true prayer”
Also thanks to Mahdi we have taken more liberties, since he advised us where the limits of the rules were, of all that bunch of laws that ban almost everything in a country of free minds. People who, after fighting for a revolution, for more freedom, was hit with a religious dictatorship that has them tied up and unable to do anything about it.
Two lives, the majority lives like that, it is part of the fact of living in this country, Outdoors almost everything is forbidden and watched; indoors everything changes and they allow themselves to be and to let go all the weight. Freedom barely exists outside and that is something they have to accept and take the best way the can. That´s life here.
On this second part, we took again secondary roads that drove us away from the main ones and directed us to the mountains surrounding the desert, making us suffer a bit more but avoiding the heat; keeping us far from people but close to the nature. We´ve cycled much more kilometers than planned and finally we´ve drawn upon the last day of our visas, 2 months in total.
Half way between Teheran and Mashad, the first contact with the desert made us start to taste its rouhgness crudely. It took me to the limit of my strengh and made us to start looking and learn the way of living it and enduring it, to begin the training for the challenge against the clock we had around the corner:
Turkmenistan: 7 days, 700 kms, headwind, bad roads, two borders and a desert in August.