Anem a Iran | On our way: Iran

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(English version below)

Un cop caminades Tailàndia, Birmània, Bangladesh, Índia, Pamir, Tadjikistan i Uzbekistan amb aproximadament uns 7.000 quilòmetres als peus, ara ens endinsem a Iran.

Després de Tailàndia, des de Birmània vàrem saltar a Àsia central per poder caminar Pamir, Tadjikistan i Uzbekistan evitant el seu cru hivern, així com també l’asfixiant monsó a Bangladesh i Índia. Després vàrem reprendre la ruta a Bangladesh, un pèl massa aviat per que les primeres setmanes ens ofegàvem de calor, humitat i en alguna que altra tempesta de final de monsó. Entrar a Índia per passar tot l’hivern ens ha regalat perfectes temperatures diürnes, però poques hores de llum i fredes nits i matinades on la boira espessa ens ha acabat de congelar. Hem trigat gairebé 5 mesos en creuar Índia des de West Bengal a Punjab. Uns 2.500 quilòmetres que entre moltes altres experiències, ens ha deixat l’operació quirúrgica de Jenn com la més impactant.

La nostra ruta natural ens portaria ara a Pakistan, després Afganistan i Turkmenistan, però malauradament, molt, molt en contra la nostra voluntat, no podem entrar dins aquests tres, així que el següent és Iran.

Ara anem a Iran amb molts quilòmetres per endavant. Ens fa una gran il·lusió endinsar-nos en aquest nou territori, dins aquesta rica cultura on esperem que les altes temperatures no ens rosteixin més del que podem aguantar i que els visats ens permetin caminar tot el llarg tram sense treure el fetge.

Aquesta breu entrada és per ’informar’ que no tenim ni idea de quina serà la connectivitat, accés a internet, a electricitat per carregar el mòbil… de que disposarem, pel que consegüentment, no tenim ni idea de si podrem mantenir la freqüència de publicacions a la web i a les xarxes socials.

Mirarem de fer-ho tan sovint com ens sigui possible, però com sempre, si no podem comunicar-nos, actualitzar o publicar com fins ara, assumiu que estem feliçment caminant entre bones persones i sobretot, que estem bé (o molt bé).

Així doncs, faré / farem el que bonament podrem, sense oblidar-nos de tots vosaltres que molt amablement ens seguiu, us interesseu per nosaltres, ens recolzeu i doneu ànims per continuar i als que us estem MOLT agraïts.



English version

Wow! We keep stacking up the kilometers! Since January 2016, we have walked about 7,000 kilometers, or roughly 4,350 miles!

Our feet have taken us through Thailand, Myanmar/Burma, Bangladesh, India, the Pamirs, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan; we had the extra benefit of visiting Kyrgyzstan, which we used as a visa-collecting hub for Central Asia last summer.

Where are we off to next? We are walking through history and heading to Iran.

As with every place we step into, we go with open hearts and heads full of illusion. For years, we have wanted to visit the mystical land of Persia, appreciate its beautiful architecture, witness its fascinating culture and taste its delicious food. Now, thanks to our European passports and a bigger welcome for tourists, we luckily will have 90 days to walk about 1,500 kilometers (about 930 miles) from the Turkmenistan border to the Azerbaijan border.

We know what the news headlines say about this place. But, we also know what cyclists and many European travellers have told us,  and have lived first-hand on the ground there. And, most recently, we saw this story about a Swedish woman running alone through Iran. Their stories are about the friendship and generosity they found in Iran.  Following their lead, we are pretty sure we are heading into a country filled with kind-hearted people who will welcome us into their towns, their homes and their lives.

While we are looking forward to our next jump, going to Iran now means we have to skip other places we would have loved to see.

Pakistan, for instance, was our next country, as the crow flies. But, the Indians and the Pakistanis don’t have a lot of love for each other, and there is no way we can get our onward visa from India. Tourist visas for Pakistan can only be issued in our country of residency, and flying back to Barcelona for a passport stamp and then returning to South Asia is an expensive detour.

We will, however, keep Pakistan on our “one day” list. Despite security worries, our hope is renewed by a recent post we saw from our new German cycling friends who are right now having a wonderful experience there and are overwhelmed by Pakistani hospitality.

Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, sadly, have been off the list as long as they have been on our route wish list.

Even if we could get into war-torn Afghanistan, there are no open borders with either Pakistan or Tajikistan as far as we know.  And, the 100-or-so-kilometers we would want to walk in the Wakhan Corridor to bridge our route would require very high mountain passes we are not fully prepared to tackle; we are walkers with normal hiking shoes, not mountaineers with ice picks and crampons.

Turkmenistan’s dictatorial government is not very welcoming to tourists. If…if..if we were lucky to get a visa, it will likely be a transit visa for five days. Cyclists we know have had a hard time crossing the 500-kilometer distance with two wheels and headwinds  during that short amount of time. There is obviously no way we can cover that ground on foot, unless we had Mercury’s wings attached to our shoes, which we, unfortunately, don’t. And, with memories of Uzbekistan still haunting me, Turkmenistan’s vast desert stretch is pretty much permanently off our walking list, without too much disappointment on my part.

As always, crossing borders means a gap time in connectivity as we figure out our cell phone and wifi options and get used to a new place. We’ll post when we can here on our blog and on our social media sites. You’ll find us on both Facebook and Instagram with this handle: @bangkokbarcelonaonfoot.

If you don’t hear from us for a while, assume we are walking along happily disconnected, enjoying the company of strangers and looking for a plug and a cell signal.

Thanks for following us!

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