After crossing all of Turkey we finally arrive at the Iranian Border. The passport control procedures to get out of Turkey are smooth for both myself and Matteo but when we get to clear Turkish customs things change a little for me. The person in charge advises me that my bike has to go through a complete scan under a massive X ray machine. Only mine not Matteo’s. All of a sudden I have cold blood running through my body. In a glimpse I can’t stop thinking of the movie “Midnight Express”. When we travel we usually never take all of our bags into our room for the night. Usually we live some of it on the bikes as it would be to much of an effort to always load and unload them. What if someone the night before knew we were heading to Iran and put some illegal substances into my tool bag I think to myself ? I really started to be extremely nervous but there was nothing I could do but to start the X RAY procedure of my entire bike…….
I am told to join a line of other vehicles in a special part of the customs parking. There must have been at least 150 trucks before my small motorcycle. It is 11 AM and you can start feeling the heat. About 36 degrees celsius. I know I can’t wait hours so with a big smile and waving hello to everyone like an idiot I jump the line until I reach the front where a hangar with some customs officers were waiting for me. Let me tell you that the mind can play terrible games. I was terrified. Anyway, my bike gets into this machine while I waited for clearance. Few minutes later a young customs officer approaches me and tells me to pick up my bike. I am free to go. I was clear from Turkish customs.
With a big release I join Matteo that was waiting for me in front of the gate before entering the Iranian border. Together we start the Iranian procedure. Passport control takes forever as we are waiting in line with at least 100 people, mostly truck drivers. We are the only tourist around. After half an hour, thanks god a “fixer” approaches us and tells us to follow him. He promise us he will handle all procedure for us for a small fee. We usually don’t use the help of fixers at the borders during our travels but this time was different. We knew that if we did not take advantage of the offer we would have been at the border for hours. To cross into Iran with your vehicles you need a “Carnet de Passage”. Basically a passport for your bike. Mine was not stamped correctly from the agency in Rome so in order to fix that of course I had to pay an extra fee. Baksheesh is common in this part of the world.
After months of anticipation we are finally in Iran. Now the challenge is to understand as quickly as possible the driving habits of the locals. It is our number one rule when driving these big and heavy bikes in new far away countries. Immediately we understand that in order to move forward you have to drive aggresivly as we drive in Naples. Being both Italian it is not impossible for us.
It is now mid afternoon and I look at Matteo with a face of discomfort due to the extreme heat. We decide to stop at a restaurant when both of us agree that driving in these extreme heat condition is impossible. We are all geared up and a heat stoke could very possibly happen putting our health at risk.
We start thinking that maybe the initial road planned will not be possible. Travelling south of Iran to Shiraz and Esfahan, crossing the Dash a Lut desert in the summer on bikes is virtually crazy. We actually learned that the Dash a Lut desert is the hottest place on earth with a maximum registered heat temperature in history reaching 70.7 degrease celsius. After speaking with some locals they tell us that in the South temperatures can easily reach 50 degrease celsius. NO WAY !!! Definitely a change of plans have to occur. We decide to go to Tabriz and visit northern Iran instead. The Elburz Mountains south east of Tabriz, the picturesque village of Masuleh, Teheran and Mashad are now part of our new plan on our way to Turkmenistan. Departure is set at 5 AM every day until noon. For sure, even if the original plans for Iran have changed, the new road will give us a fantastic view of what appears to be another magical country.