Silk Road 10


mi ruta de la seda » 2010 » October

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2010

10.31

This is the last deliver of Turkmenistan pictures. In the previous post I posted the Darvaza gas crater video because I thought it was more beautiful to see the crater in video before seeing the pictures. If you haven’t seen the video, i think that it’s better you see it before this pictures. Click here to see it. XXXXXX

This is the last delivery of Turkmenistan pictures. In the previous post I posted the Darvaza gas crater video because I thought it was more beautiful to see the crater in video before seeing the pictures. If you haven’t seen the video, I think that it’s better you see it before these pictures. Click here to see it.

P9192584 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum

On the way to the crater we stop in a small village of the Karakum desert. In Ashgabat people are fined for having a dirty car, making people wash it one day after rain and here there is no road with asphalt, isn’t it contradictory?

P9192608 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum People

People here are more receptive. Kids bored of so much dark sand, Karakum means black sand, come with their curiosity to see the eventual tourist.

P9192605 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, goat

Two goats fighting, it’s a village with a simple life where you can see goats, camels and chickens wandering between the houses.

P9192609 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, People

In the background a yurt. The traditional nomad house. It’s easy to transport as you can pack it. It’s been used during generations to move to the summer pastures as here it only rains 25 millimetres a year. It’s used in all the countries in Central Asia and in others like India, China or Mongolia. People here are still semi nomad.

P9192621 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, people

The school uniforms.

P9192614 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, people

Some more traditional dresses.

P9192623 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, people

Kids of the village.

P9192624 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, people

Plats, pony tales and other decorations.

P9192639 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, gas crater, darvaza

After seing the village we went to the craters. There is one full of water, other with bubbling mud, the one in the picture and at last the most impressive the gas one.

P9192642 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, gas crater, darvaza

Some German travellers. I’m joyous about people that travels with their vehicle but at the same time you become the save of it.

P9192660 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, gas crater, darvaza

The sunset starts in the desert.

P9192676 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, gas crater, darvaza

Every time I see the pictures a smile comes into my face, I’ve loved the crater.

P9192684 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, gas crater, darvaza

The place is worth a self portrait photo.

P9202805 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, gas crater, darvaza

After the sunset and recording the video at night it’s time to wake up early. During night I recorded the video alone, which was quite disquieting. Sunrise was as I like, lonely and private, the crater was just for me.

P9202821 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, gas crater, darvaza

The place is worth a second self portrait, this time with a sleepy face. I’ve been lucky to see it, seems that they are building a new plant to collect the gas. 60 years later the crater will stop burning.

P9202799 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, gas crater, darvaza

The same picture but not spoiling it with my sleepy face.

P9202833 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, gas crater, darvaza

Another car camped near ours. A French guy had come to see the place, it’s in the picture in the distance revealing the size of the crater.

P9202849 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, gas crater, darvaza

I leave this infernal circle with a new dose of happiness.

P9202859 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, gas crater, darvaza

We go towards the border and we stop to see Amu-Darya river from which the water goes to the cotton field to allow two harvests a year. The water is distributed by the biggest irrigation channel in the world, it’s 1100 kilometres. I would have preferred not to have seen the bridge pillars before crossing.
P9202880 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, gas crater, darvaza, Konye-Urgench

We stoppe in Konye-Urgench. It was one of the most important cities in Central Asia until 1221 when Genghis Khan laid siege on it for six months and then flooded it extolling a dam in the Amu-Darya river.

After it’s reconstruction Timur destroyed it as it was a rival for Samarkand. After destroying Konye-Urgench the capital of the Muslim world was moved to Samarkand.
P9202913 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, gas crater, darvaza, Konye-Urgench
We see a local tradition. Young girls go spinning down a little slope. At the end they pretend they’ve died and then come back to life. This symbolizes a rebirth having gotten purified during the process. They are also supposed to go straight meaning they’ll have a good future not as the one in the picture.

P9202922 Turkmenistan, Central Asia, Karakum, gas crater, darvaza, Konye-Urgench

The Uglut Timur minaret is the only thing that has survived from the old Urgench mosque. It’s form 1320 is 59 meters now.

Turkmenistan is one of the most closed countries in the world. It’s rules to get into the country are similar to the ones in North Korea when as a foreigner you feel like a authentic stranger. They say that with this closed system they avoid the mafias and drugs that leave Afghanistan. The same old paths from the silk road used to bring drugs to Europe through Central Asia.

The country has money, a lot. If they use it in the right way they’ll have a great future. If they use it incorrectly it’ll be a country with too many parks, too much white marble and too many golden statues that nobody will want to clean. I don’t know if I’ll come back a day to see what has happened. Having been here has been perturbing and interesting some how.
P9152233 Turkmenistan, Central asia, Turkmenabashi, nazoyev

As a last picture of Turkmenistan a picture of Turkmenabashi statue with his own book in his hand. His great slogan was “People Nation Turkmenabashi”. He could have also said “Turkmenabashi People Nation”, nobody would have been surprised.

Dima, the guide, leaves me at the border with Uzbekistan. He helps me to fill up the papers, in half of the blanks he says “that doesn’t matter” followed by a loud laugh, he also finds so many papers are a nonsense. We say goodbye. It’s been fun, his laugh is contagious and laughing is always good.

From the Turkmenistan border police post there is 500 meters of no mans land to Uzbekistan, a small van takes me there. Incredibly there is also cotton planted here.

In one hour I’ll be in Khiva, the smaller of the three marvelous cities that awaits me in Uzbekistan, Central Asia jewel. The other two cities are Bukhara and Samarkand. I have enormous expectations of what I’ll find here.

Soon more.

Fernando

2010

10.27

A place that seems it can´t exists. The video says it all:

http://www.vimeo.com/16217752

This time the music from “The crazy world of Arthur Brown” from 1968. I was about to put some classical music, that looked good too, but decided that some psycodelia was better.

The crater is amazing at night but at sunset and sunrise is awesome as well so I´ll post some pictures as soon as I have a descent internet connection.

Writing soon.

Fernnado

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2010

10.22

In the east of Turkemenistan is Merv, one of the most important oasis in the silk road in Central Asia. We drive for five hours in a straight line watching non stop cotton fields. Here you have some pictures of these two days.

P9202931 Turkmenistan, Asia central, Merv, cotton, algodón

I’d never seen cotton fields before. This is the collecting time, when they are more beautiful. Nearly all the cotton is collected here with John Deere machinery, the most expensive ones in the market, consequences of having money from selling gas.

P9202930 Turkmenistan, Asia central, Merv, cotton, algodón

A three wheel tractor.

P9152193 Turkmenistan, Asia central

The remains of one of the oldest mosques of the country. Here Islam is mixed with previous beliefs and Islam is lived in a relaxed way.

P9152201 Turkmenistan, Asia central, wish tree

Wish tree. They tie pieces of clothing with wishes, it may come from Buddhism.

P9152204 Turkmenistan, Asia central people)

The old women rolls the kids by the rock. This type of practice is unthinkable for a pure Muslim, “Ála is the only god and Mahomet is his prophet”.

Getting out of Ashgabat we’ve gone by a grain museum. Here they’ve found evidence that 6.700 years ago they already selected seeds to get better harvests. They’ve also found millenary evidences of cotton production.

P9152215 Turkmenistan, Asia central

We continue, every 25 or 30 kilometres There are little humps or mounds. They were caravanserais and now they are nearly destroyed as they were built with mud bricks and they erode easily.

P9152207 Turkmenistan, Asia central

Walking in the ruins pieces of ceramics are found. The different colors reveal the technique used and therefore the culture that used it and the age.

 

P9152211 Turkmenistan, Asia central, caravasar, caravanserai

This place was a fortress. Every four or five caravanserais there was a fortress to keep the people of nearby caravanserais when an attack was coming. There were 999 caravanserais in Turkmenistan, so you don’t forget the number.

To get into Turkmenistan there are two options:

– Get into the country with a transit visa. The visa lets you be in the country up to five days and you have to say the entry and exit point and you can’t get away from your itinerary between those two points.

– A tourist visa with which you can go anywhere in the country and stay longer. The problem with this visa is that is compulsory to have a guide with you all the time(except Ashgabat and around).

I wanted to see a bit more of the country so I got a tourist visa so I had a guide with me. Having a guide has some advantages, I’ve heard horror histories of people being asked for their passports ten times a day and having a hard time with policemen so I wanted to avoid this also. Apparently lately the police are more relaxed so it is not that bad.

With the guide on your back you miss that part of the trip that is discovering things by yourself and it’s something I enjoy a lot however it has the advantage that he tells you a lot of things and that for a few days I’ve been able to leave the book at home. Having a guide is also quite expensive, it’s screwed my average spend of 25 Euro a day I was doing in the last countries and I’m going to spend in eight days more than 1200 euros but it was the only way to see some of the places in the country so It’s worth it.

P9152223 Turkmenistan, Asia central(1280x720)

Like five times cheaper than in Spain.

Mary is the soviet city built next to Merv. The soviets looked at it as a strategic place to connect with Afghanistan and they built a new city. It has some similarities with Ashgabat, with wide avenues and exaggerated governmental buildings but with a bit more flavour. It’s curios to see how key settlements revive every once in a while after centuries of lethargy.

P9152229 Turkmenistan, Asia central, Mary

A brand new mosque.

In dinner I get a shashlik, the way they call kebab here. I ask for a beer. In Iran I haven’t have beer for three weeks as in Iran it’s forbidden. It’s good and the jar is 0.57 Euros. With this price I can’t avoid having a second one. The shashlik, is really good too.

P9152224 Turkmenistan, Asia central, Ruahna

I try to buy a copy of Ruhnama but they don’t have either in Spanish or English. During the previous government most of the books in bookshops were written by Nizayov himself.

P9152244 Turkmenistan, Asia central, turkmenabasi, nizayov

Another statue of the ex president. How can you dare to build gold statues of yourself?

P9152237 Turkmenistan, Asia central, Mary Zara

A copy of Zara(Spanish clothing brand that doesn’t seem to be suitable for copying). It’s not the first time I see one.

P9152238 Turkmenistan, Asia central, Nizayov, Turkmenabasi

It’s not only another statue of Nazoyev, he also has the country at his feet. I’ve realized he looks like my dad with a suit.

Merv was one of the great cities of the Islamic world with Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo. It was called Marv-I-Shahjahan, “Merv queen of the world”.

It’s peak was between the XI and XIII centuries when was the capital of the Seljuc empire and the silk road was boiling. It is said that it was the biggest city in the world at some time but they made the mistake of trying to avoid paying tax to Genghis Khan. Boldness that proved expensive and Tule, one of  Genghis Khan sons, destroyed the city to ruins killing a million people. By the way he took back home the most beautiful ladies.

Merv was an oasis city in the middle of the Karakum desert. Now it’s small but it’s importance has made it a world heritage.

P9162259 Turkmenistan, Asia central, Merv, silk road, ruta seda

In Merv. Since we got into the complex we’ve drove four kilometres inside the walls. Five cities were built here one next to the other. The wall that surrounded Merv was 40 meters high, more than the great wall I’ll see in three months. As there is no rock all was build by adobe and that’s why it’s in ruins.

P9162293  Turkmenistan, Asia central, Merv, silk road, ruta seda

This was possibly a library.

P9162277  Turkmenistan, Asia central, Merv, silk road, ruta seda

My guide takes me to see archaeologists, one American an one English, that are working in the area.

P9162272  Turkmenistan, Asia central, Merv, silk road, ruta seda

They’ve been excavating five weeks and today is their last day. They are happy, have found a little funding oven that had not been found before and some vessel pieces. They explain everything to me.

P9162287  Turkmenistan, Asia central, Merv, silk road, ruta seda

One of the mausoleums of the complex.

P9162306  Turkmenistan, Asia central, Merv, silk road, ruta seda

We stop in a little mosque on the way out, we see decorative mosaics with triangles. This is not seen in the Islamic architecture normally. The triangle is a Zoroastrian symbol. Here as in Persia the zoroastrism was the official language even if there was cult freedom existing Buddhism and manicurist(possibly my favourite religion).

P9162321  Turkmenistan, Asia central, Merv, silk road, ruta seda

Flat.

We come back to Ashgabat. I have only two days left in Turkmenistan. Tomorrow we go to the north where we’ll se Konye-Urgench, another important stops in the silk road. But before I’ll publish a video of one of the most ideal places I’ve seen in my life. Hope I can make the video as what I’m imagining in my head.
Soon on video.
Fernando

We come back to Ashgabat. I have only two days left in Turkmenistan. Tomorrow we go to the north where we’ll se Konye-Urgench, another important stop on the silk road. But before I’ll publish a video of one of the most ideal places I’ve seen in my life. Hope I can make the video like what I’m imagining in my head.

Soon on video.

Fernando

2010

10.18

The good thing of a country like Turkmenistan is that we know little or nothing about it so everything is a surprise. If you go to Venice you know that you are going to find channels and bridges, is one of those things that everybody knows like that it’s cold at the pole, that kiwis come from New Zealand  and that snots don’t smell.

I’ve read about Turkmenistan to prepare for the trip, but I haven’t been able to manage an image of how it would be. They have money from gas reserves, but even with this it’s not a modern country. They’ve got one good thing and that is they are a democracy, the bad thing is that they have only one political party since they became independent from USSR and that means they have had a dictatorial regime for 20 years. Here you have the pictures from the capita, Ashgabat.

P9182491 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

Coming from the border with no traffic, Iran is just a few kilometres away. For being such a restrictive country I was stunned by the fact that policemen had a canteen on their belts instead of weapons.

P9142179 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

The university library just opened. This is how all the governmental buildings look like, new, with copulas and columns, golden and a bit exaggerated

P9142169 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

White marble in an apartment block. The white, “ak”, means good.

P9142175 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

During the night they light up everything even the apartment blocks. If you have money to light up all that you don’t need to light up, why don’t you do it? They generate electricity burning gas, the excess is sold to nearby countries generating 8% of the PIB.

P9142149 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

Ashgabat had no river but the previous president Nizayov visited Europe. London had the Thames, Paris the Seine, Rome the Tiber so he decided expending 63 million dollars and building a river in the middle of the city with lions at the entrances of the bridges. The river walls… guess. In white marble.

P9142176 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

A hospital on the left hand side. On top there is a golden face of the old president.

P9162325 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

I don’t know how many times a day you see the map of the country.

P9172330 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath)

This is one of the best monuments, a pity it is being fixed. The arch of neutrality. It had a golden statue of the ex-president. It was 12 meters high and turned with the sun 24 hours a day. This is not just being megalomaniac, it is also having imagination. In 1998 it decided to become neutral. Not to have conflicts with the neighbouring countries. It’s an intelligent position, as with the money they have, if they have no conflicts they just need time to progress.

P9172336 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

Soviet war memorial with an eternal flame.

P9172340 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

Earthquake memoriam. In 1948 a 9 in Richter scale demolished the city killing 150.000 people, only two buildings remained standing. The city was closed to foreigners for five years while rebuilding. I don’t know what the bull means, neither the earth, no idea about the mother meaning, but the golden baby, guess, baby Niyazov.

P9172332 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

This is the statue that represents how women are, most of them have looooong plats hanging. They don’t have the horse.

I spent the last day in Ashgabat with Richard, an English guy that has been living five years in Dubai. He’s been impressed by the buildings, the lights and the streets, and taking into account that Dubai is an exaggerated place made to impress.

Ashgabat is a ghost city, seems they’ve build it recently and no people live there. The streets are wide and nearly empty and the buildings are separated by gardens and monuments. Not even downtown are there people, it has no atmosphere at all.

P9182362 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

Tolkuchka bazaar on Sunday.

P9182374 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

Here you see the traditional dress, with a brocade in the middle and strong colours.

P9182400 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

I had shorts, flip-flops and t-shirt.

P9182379 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

She’s got a nice face.

P9172345 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

The current president. It’s difficult to imagine the Spanish president on merchandising products.

P9182477 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

The health stairs. Another great idea from the former president. Two circuits, eight and 37 kilometres of concrete on the mountain. He also made a cable car nearby.

P9182502 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

We should make a SpainCola.

P9182508 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

The former president was self named Turkmenabashi that means Leader of the Turkmen’s. Ataturk had his name from other people not from himself.

P9182505 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

The huts are great.

P9182509 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

The Ruhnama is a book written by Turkmenabasy talking about the Turkmen’s and it’s history. He translated it into 52 languages(Turkmenista has only five million people). It was compulsory to study in schools and universities and there was an exam to become a civil servant. He wrote a second part and there was a moment in which English books were forbidden as they were a menace for Turkmen culture. The book can be opened to project things on to it during celebrations

P9182517 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

The biggest fountain in the world, that doesn’t mean it’s beautiful.

P9182539 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

Over the fountain, enjoying the waste of electricity that happens in the city.

P9182527 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

The plan is to have a million trees in the next year. It’s going to become a forest with buildings.

P9182561 Turkmenistan, asia central, centralasia, Ashgabath

Are all those lights needed?

Ashgabat is not a place to come if you are looking for interaction with people. They don’t look or talk to you, they have a total indifference. Being a country isolated for so long it seems that they have to have curiosity towards the little amount of tourists(around 15.000 a year), but no, they have a no interest. If you talk to them they don’t know whether to  reply or not. In the shops they make an effort to answer, seems the isolation has affected their capacity to have social relationships.

Ashgabat has been a pleasant place, but at the same time somehow disturbing. I’ve loved having been here. Walking by the city I’ve got jiggling a lot of times when looking at the buildings, the indifference of people or the total waste in each corner. With this memory I leave, jiggling with no meaning.

Soon more from this country.

Fernando

 

2010

10.17

My days in Tehran have been incredibly pleasant even having been run over. The city is  chaotic but it’s also interesting walking along the streets looking at the start of autumn. With the road sweepers fighting with it’s leaves. I’ve walk a lot, buying Iranian films in the museum of cinema, watch palaces and eaten ice-cream in the streets and finally I feel sad to leave.

P9062077 - Iran, Teherán, Tehran

Apart from Ferran I’ve met more interesting people as this couple from Logroño (Spanish city in the north) that have come here by R5 (Renault 5 car) from Switzerland. Iran is full of French cars, there are a lot of R5 so they’ll be unnoticed. They wanted to continue to Pakistan but now they don’t get visas if you don’t apply in your own country.

The Ramadam has already finished so I can drink water and eat when I want, it’s function has worked, now I appreciate more being able to do it, hahahahahha. With Ramadam I’ve missed some things, but I’ve also gained some other, I think people were even more willing to talk and complain. I’ve meet very few people following it, even most of them follow it outdoors.  There’s people telling me that it’s something backwards and that the country’s productivity stops for a full month and that it’s bad for the country.

PA134062 - Iran, Teherán, Tehran

It has survived the coming and going of the embassy, but I have to repair it again. This time I’ll put more superglue. I’m one of those people that thinks that the more superglue or duck tape you use the better things get fixed.

The passport apart from the glue also has a great wall crossing on of the pages of my passport. It’s taken me two more days than what I initially thought but I leave with something important done. The embassy guard surprised me when after telling him I was Spanish he asked me about Federico García Lorca (one of the most important writers).

I left in another night bus of 14 hours. My destination; Mashhad; the most holy place in Iran. It’s on the east, towards I way always go, near the border with Turkmenistan.

In the bus my seatt buddy became instantly my “protector”. The protector is a non typified figure that exists. When you are a bit (or very) lost in a bus station, train or in the street, it appears and takes charge of you. He ensures you get the right seat, helps you to understand the ticket inspector… Today’s protector told me how many hours the bus journey was, helped me to know the length of the stops, help me to ask for dinner, he invited me even though I opposed, and when I arrived to Mashhad he didn’t move until he had clear I had got my bearings.

Mashhad is interesting from the point of view of being such a holy place. Here is the temple-mosque-mausoleum of the eight Imam Mohammed Reza. To visit it does not have much so I leave my backpack in the first hotel I see. I talk with the hotel manager in French (my French has like 12 words and the rest is made up) he offers me to have breakfast. I think that as I leave the backpack I can spend something so I have it. I just want to see the Shrine and leave. He does not let me pay.

Three kilometres of concreted avenue separates the station from the shrine. I see it’s copulas in the distance after the lines and lines of traffic. The access to the interior of the Mausoleum is not permitted to non believers, so you don’t get to see the place where the 20 million visitors a year pray and cry for the Imam. To compensate you have a free guide that talks great English and that shows you around the complex. You get a welcome kit with postcards and leaflets that tell you about the wisdom and charisma of this man. I’ve read it all at night and what I’ve liked the most is: “To be kind to people is half of the wisdom”.

P9132133 Iran, Irán, Mashad, hortera

Iranians are tacky. This is not an insult, it’s a fact. They like the overloaded, the exaggerated, the golden, the decorated… Who otherwise would tint the water of the fountain in turquoise to match the copula of the mosque in the back? Specially in such an important place.

In three hours I’ve gone, I’ve seen the shrine and I’ve come back. I get into an archaic bus to Quchan where I think I’m going to sleep today. A young girl carrying “English grammar in use”, that I’ve used, starts chatting with me to practise. She want’s to get out of the country, learn French and see the world. She insists on paying the bus and I give her some sweets in exchange as I have nothing better.

P9132140 Iran, English school

Quchan is not very touristy so everybody looks at me and stops me to know something about me. Some kids with bicycles try to get me to the hotel but I end up in this English school (look at the poster with body parts) talking with teachers and pupils. They gave me a video to put in the web page!

Majid, the guy in the middle of the picture, invites me to sleep in his place, when I told them the crappy hotel I was going to sleep in they recommended me the best hotel in town. I told them I preferred the crappy one and finally Majid has taken me to his home.

I have dinner with his daughter and his brother-in-law. We chat until midnight. In the morning they prepare me breakfast, they offer me washing some clothes, they offer me some medicines as they see I have a small cold, they gift me some postcards of the area and they ensure I get the right taxi to where the share cars depart to the border. The first taxi does not let me pay even I hand him the money three times. .

P9041981 bored iranian, Iran, Irán

As I don’t have many pictures I put you a bored Iranian.

 

P9042049  Iran, Irán, tehran, rain

And some train writting. I.R. means Islamic Republic.

P9042018  Iran, Yazd, mirror, espejo

And a street picture. Chador means tent. Koran recommends modesty on clothing with no more specification. I have seen nobody with burqa here. The chador is the most conservative thing I’ve seen here, seems totally uncomfortable, they have to grab it with their hands constantly. With it you can’t probably work much, moreover with the heat in summer, it could at least be white. From the distance they look like nuns and when there are a few of them you feel like in a convent.

P8311670 Tehran, Tehran

And some tiles.

P8291456 Iran, Teherán, Tehran, Ali

And a picture of Prophet Ali, the forth. With the beard as Islam recommends not shaving. The representation is similar to the representations of Jesus, but with the eyes a bit more highlighted. I told you they like exaggerating things.

With these last hours in Iran an example I’ve said it all. Iran has been intense. I’ve talk with a lot of people, I’ve had tea with them, they’ve invited me for food and to sleep in their houses… I’ve only met fantastic and hospitable (apart from the idiot army man that ask me for my passport) people. For a little bit they outdo the Albanians as the nicest of the trip which is saying a lot for me.

I’ve achieved my objective; trying to understand the country a bit more, see the real images not what the catastrophic media wants to tell us. Even the image that a foreigner gets in a short trip is not real either, the people that talk in English, the people that are easier to communicate with, are more open and liberal.  I leave Iran with my positive prejudices reasserted.

I go towards the border. On top of my fear of the amended border I have to sum that I’m leaving the country two days after my visa expires. In fact the day of expiration has pass, but I entered 21 days ago and the duration of the visa is 30 so I may be fine. I put good-guy-face and give my passport to the Iranian policeman, a few seconds later I hear TUC!. My passport has been stamped, all is fine. I have a deep breath and walk to the Turkmen post. I’m about to get into Central Asia. Goooood!

Soon from a new country.

Fernando

2010

10.14

Un pasaporte no debería estar divido en dos piezas. No está hecho para ello. En la página seis del pasaporte pone: “Será anulado todo pasaporte que presente alteraciones o enmiendas, que este falto de hojas….”
Imaginaos mi cara cuando abro el bolsillo exclusivamente reservado para el pasaporte, y veo la tapa tapando nada y las páginas al lado. Mi pertenecía más querida, más cuidada que mi propio… que cualquier otra cosa… de mi mochila.
Supero la parálisis facial para decir ¡mierda!. Estoy a punto de ir a la embajada de China. Me dieron el visado de Uzbekistán en cinco minutos y quería sacar el de China ya que tengo tiempo.
Se que tanto país y tanto visado es un lío, así que os hago un resumen. Los países están según el itinerario.
– Turkmenistan: Me lo dan en la frontera, ya tengo los papeles preparados.
– Uzbekistan: Conseguido en Teherán en cinco minutos por tener carta de invitación(esto no es que alguien del país te aprecia un montón y te invita a su país. Es un papel oficial que las agencias piden al gobierno previo pago de unos 30 euros).
– Kyrgyzstan: Lo quiero conseguir cuando llegue a Uzbekistan.
– China: Espero conseguirlo aquí en Teherán, si no en Kyrgyzstan.
El visado chino lo intenté conseguir en Damasco ya que tenía algo de tiempo. Fue imposible, me pedían billete de entrada y salida al país, reservas de los hoteles durante mi estancia, 5000 dólares en una cuenta en un banco chino y un permiso de residencia en Siria. Así que lo dejé para más adelante, normalmente cuanto más te acercas a un país más fácil es conseguir el visado.
¡Mierda! Mi visado está roto. Se supone que no puedo viajar. Tengo dos opciones:
– Esperar tres semanas a que la embajada española me de un pasaporte nuevo. No se cómo funciona el tema, pero los visados que tengo seguramente ya no valgan
– Comprar pegamento.
Estos días en Teherán me he quedado en casa de Ferran(el chico español que conocí en Georgia). Es una gozada estar en un sitio con frigorífico en el que puedo comer ensaladas y verduras. Viajando no es fácil comer de forma sana, así que aprovecho para comer verde. Para más suerte a Ferran le gusta cocinar y como cosas riquísimas con especias ya que le gusta la comida india, no se puede pedir más. Hospitalidad iraní a la española u hospitalidad española a lo iraní. Estoy mejor que en un hotel de cinco estrellas.
Ferran trabaja en la universidad dando clases de catalán… si, clases de catalán. A mi al principio me sorprendió, ¿Quién puede querer aprender catalán en Teherán? Pero para los lingüistas aprender otra lengua latina es interesante, no ven aprender una lengua de forma únicamente práctica. Antes de venir a Teherán estuvo en Moscú cinco años enseñando catalán también.
Una cosa que echo de menos, al viajar solo, es reírme. Me lo paso bien con la gente, si que me río,  pero no son carcajadas de las que sólo te pegas con amigos, así que estos días han sido más divertidos de lo normal en ese sentido. Ferrán es un tío peculiar y hemos encajado bien. Para que os hagáis más a la idea de cómo es os lo voy a contar sobre su sobrino, que creo que van a ser parecidos. Un día, cuando tenía cuatro años le dijo a su madre que quería morirse para renacer como un oso panda. Su madre, supongo que tan atónita como asustada, le dijo que bueno, que no podía decidir en qué reencarnarse, que lo mismo se reencarnaba en un gusano. Total que el chaval se pasó tres días arrastrándose por el suelo diciendo “Soy un gusano, soy un gusano”. ¡Me le imagino en el pasillo! Además, ¿Qué niño tiene el negro como color favorito?
Durante estas dos últimas semanas he visto a un montón de gente con una tirita en la nariz, muchos. Algunos chicas y chicos tenían una gasa con esparadrapo. Si, se han operado la nariz, es la moda aquí, todos los días ves a alguien. Lo normal, te operas la nariz y para que quede claro que te la has operado sales a la calle con la tirita puesta. Yo creo que los hombres no se fijan mucho en las narices de las mujeres… pero lo a lo mejor estoy equivocado. Aquí hay muchos hombres con la tirita también.
Después del atropello estoy bien, las rodillas me duelen un poco, sobre todo la derecha, pero puedo hacer todos los movimientos, creo que el dolor viene solo del golpe no de haberse torcido.
Uno de estos días paseando por la calle se me acerca un hombre.
– Hola.
– Hola.
– ¿Tienes un rato para hablar?
– Si, claro.
[Después de intercambiar nombres, nacionalidad y la pregunta de si irán te ha gustado]
– Creo que Europa tienen un problema.[la pregunta me gusta, tanta alabanza y adoración a occidente a veces me molesta un poco]
– ¿Cuál es?
– Europa tiene un problema con el sexo. Tengo tele por satélite en casa [teóricamente prohibido] y hay muchos canales de porno, cientos [no se como lo hacen pero tienen como 1400 canales].
– Aha
– Y esto es malo.
– Bueno, si quieres les pones y si no no.
– Pero son demasiados, en Europa hay un problema.
– Hombre, entiendo que si alguien se pasa four horas al día viendo porno si que tiene un problema.
– Es un problema de la sociedad, porque eso está mal.
– No lo veo tan problematico, el que quiera que los vea.
[Esta parte de la conversación se estancó un poco aunque hablaba bien inglés no sabía expresar bien que significaba “problema“ como él lo llamaba]
– Si ves a un chico y una chica besándose en un coche, ¿que te parece?
– A mi me da un poco igual, es cosa de ellos, que lo disfruten.
– Pero está mal.
– ¿Por que? Si no te gusta verles, no mires y ya está.
– Pero no te parece mal.
– Si los dos están de acuerdo en besarse [creo que con besarse quería decir más que besarse] y es lo que quieren. No me parece mal. Si cada día están con una persona diferente, quizá terminen hechos un lió, pero en principio, es su problema.
[Luego la conversación empezó a aburrir un poco, llevamos 45 minutos habando y cuando estaba a apunto de irme]
– ¿Que tengo que hacer para besar a una chica extranjera?
– ¡¿Perdona!!!?
– Si, si yo quiero besar a una chica extranjera ¿que tengo que hacer?
– … no se, no hay una regla general [¿que le digo yo a este tío?]. Como poco tendrás que preguntarla…
– Y si quiero tener una relación sexual con ella ¿que le digo? ¿Puedo tener una relación sexual contigo?
– [¿que le digo?] Si haces eso, posiblemente te quedes sin sexo y encima te llevarás un buen tortazo. Hazte el majo, enséñales la ciudad, invítales a un helado y si ves que la cosa funciona… es algo que depende del momento [la verdad que el chico era feúcho y no creo que por mucho que se lo trabajase las alemanas rubias que a el le gusten vayan a caer en sus brazos].
– ¿Después del helado las puedo preguntar si quieren tener relaciones sexuales conmigo?
[Creo que no soy buen dando consejos para ligar, además me interesa más otra cosa]
– Entonces me estás diciendo que Europa tienen un problema con el sexo y tu quieres acostarte con extranjeras [seguramente porque piensa que es más fácil] sin casarte y sin tener ningún tipo de sentimiento de por medio?
– ….
– [Quiero saber más] ¿Te has acostado con mujeres?
– Si.
– ¿Eso quiere decir más de una?
– Si.
– Sin estar casado.
– Pero intento no hacerlo, intento ser fuerte contra mi mismo para no hacerlo, porque está mal.
[Se está haciendo, no queda casi nadie por la calle y quiero dormir. Nos despedimos, me da las gracias por tener una conversación honesta y abierta, yo también le doy las gracias ha sido divertido e interesante.]
Tiene que ser difícil vivir en esta sociedad. Por un lado los valores de la religión dicen una cosa, soportado por el gobierno y parte de la sociedad. Por otro lado está lo que tu quieres o sientes, y por otro lado el bombardeo occidental de la televisión en el satélite PROHIBIDO. Lo “guay”, es lo occidental, el estilo de vida, la forma de vestir, las fiestas de los videos de la MTV. Pero pese a ser lo “guay” las cosas aquí no pueden ser así.
Ser conservador tambien es difícil, sobre todo para los jóvenes. No siempre pueden decir abiertamente que lo que sale en la MTV no les gusta. No puede ser que no te guste lo “guay”, hay que ser un poco revelde y beber en fiestas privadas. Los que tienen dinero beben whisky en sus vacaciones en Dubai ¿Y si no te apetece beber whisky porque eres musulmán y crees en ello? La sociedad está divided, ¿Que hacer? ¿No puedes ser conservador? tampoco es justo.
En todos los regimenes de este estilo parece que, si estás de acuerdo con el régimen, vives en el paraíso, pero aquí los que están de acuerdo con el régimen tambien tienen sus problemas.
En Irán hay un sistema político que no lo hay en otros lugares. Hay un poder religioso que controla el poder político. Un partido o un candidato no se puede presentar a las elecciones si ellos no lo aprueban.
NOMBRES DE LOS MONOS
Ahmadineyad a veces también está en estas fotos, pero mucho menos.
Las fotos te las encuentras en cualquier sitio. ¿Las ponen porque les gusta? ¿Las ponen para que parezca que les gustan?
Espero que el pegamento aguante el ajetreo dentro de la embajada china. Esto de tener un pasaporte medio ilegal me causa un poco de estrés. Me daPass Port + Visas + Glue = Fear
A passport shouldn’t be divided into two pieces. It’s not been built for it. In page six of my passport is says: “It will be null every passport that shows alterations or amended, or with lack of pages…”
Imagine my face when I open the passport reserved pocket of my bag, I see the cover covering nothing and the page next to it. My most precious belonging, most cared than my own… than any thing else… in my bag.
I go over the facia paralysis to say. Crap! I’m about to go to the Chinese embassy. I got the Uzbek passport in just five minutes so want to wet also the Chinese visa as I have time.
I know that so many countries and visas is a mess, so here is a summary. The countries are in the order of how I’m going.
-Turkmenistan: I’ll be given it in the border, I have the papers ready.
– Uzbekistan: got it in Tehran in five minutes because I had a letter of invitation(this is not that someone appreciates you a lot and invites you to his country. It’s an official paper that agencies ask the government before you pay them 30 Euros).
– Kyrgyzstan: I want to get it once in Uzbekistan.
– China: I hope to get it here in Teheran, if not I’ll get it in Kyrgyzstan.Pass Port + Visas + Glue = Fear
A passport shouldn’t be divided into two pieces. It’s not been built for it. In page six of my passport is says: “It will be null every passport that shows alterations or amended, or with lack of pages…”
Imagine my face when I open the passport reserved pocket of my bag, I see the cover covering nothing and the page next to it. My most precious belonging, most cared than my own… than any thing else… in my bag.
I go over the facia paralysis to say. Crap! I’m about to go to the Chinese embassy. I got the Uzbek passport in just five minutes so want to wet also the Chinese visa as I have time.
I know that so many countries and visas is a mess, so here is a summary. The countries are in the order of how I’m going.
-Turkmenistan: I’ll be given it in the border, I have the papers ready.
– Uzbekistan: got it in Tehran in five minutes because I had a letter of invitation(this is not that someone appreciates you a lot and invites you to his country. It’s an official paper that agencies ask the government before you pay them 30 Euros).
– Kyrgyzstan: I want to get it once in Uzbekistan.
– China: I hope to get it here in Teheran, if not I’ll get it in Kyrgyzstan.
A passport shouldn’t be divided into two pieces. It’s not been built for it. In page six of my passport is says: “It will be null every passport that shows alterations or amended, or with lack of pages…”.
Imagine my face when I open the passport reserved pocket of my bag, I see the cover covering nothing and the page next to it. My most precious belonging, most cared than any thing else… in my bag.
I recover from the facia paralysis to say. Crap! I’m about to go to the Chinese embassy. I got the Uzbek passport in just five minutes so want to get also the Chinese visa as I have time.
I know that so many countries and visas are a mess, so here is a summary. The countries are in the order of how I’m going.
  • Turkmenistan: I’ll be given it at the border, I have the papers ready.
  • Uzbekistan: got it in Tehran in five minutes because I had a letter of invitation(this is not that someone appreciates you a lot and invites you to his country. It’s an official paper that agencies ask the government before you pay them 30 Euros).
  • Kyrgyzstan: I want to get it once in Uzbekistan.
  • China: I hope to get it here in Teheran, if not I’ll get it in Kyrgyzstan.

I tried to get the Chinese visa in Damascus as I had some time there. It was impossible, they asked me about plane tickets to get in and out of the country, hotel reservations for my whole stay, 5000 dollars in a Chinese bank account and a residence permit for Syria. So I left it for later, the closer you get to a country the easier it usually is to get the visa.

¡Crap! My passport is broken, just came back to my mind. Supposedly I can’t travel. I have two options:

  • Wait three weeks for the Spanish embassy to make me a new one. I don’t know how it works, but probably the visas I have in the broken passport would be null.
  • Buy glue.
P9122119 - Iran, Teherán, Tehran
A picture of Tehran with the mountains in the back.

This days in Tehran I’ve been in Ferran’s house, the Spaniard I met in Georgia. It’s a total pleasure to be in a place with a fridge in which I can eat salads and greens. While travelling it is not easy to eat in a healthy way so I take advantage now to eat green. For more luck, Ferran likes cooking and eats great, with spices as he likes Indian food a lot. I can’t ask for more. Iranian hospitality Spanish style or Spanish hospitality Iranian stile. I’m better than in a five star hotel.
Ferran works in the university giving Catalan(the language spoken in Barcelona region)… yes, Catalan lessons. For me at the beginning it was surprising. Who’ll want to learn Catalan in Tehran? But for linguists it’s interesting, it’s another Latin language and they don’t see learning a language as something purely practical. Before coming to Tehran he spent five years in Moscow doing the same.
Something I miss, while travelling alone, is laughing. I have a good time, I do laugh with people, but it’s not that laughing hard that you only have with friends, so these days have been more fun than normally in that way. Ferran is a peculiar guy and we’ve match well. For you to get an idea of how he is I’m going to tell you something about his nephew, and I think they must be similar. One day, when he was four, he told his mother that he wanted to die and be reborn as a panda bear. His mother, as stunned as scared, told him that he couldn’t choose how to be reborn and that maybe he’d be reborn as a worm. So the kid spent three days dragging himself on the ground saying “I’m a worm, I’m a worm”. I can imagine him in the hall!. Moreover, what kid has black as his favourite colour?
During the last two weeks I’ve seen a lot of people with a band aid on their noses, a lot. It’s the fashion here, some even have a bigger thing covering their noses. Yes, they’ve got a nose job and, to make it clear they’ve done it, they go out to the street with the band aid on, every day I see some. I think that men don’t pay that much attention on women’s nose… but I may be wrong. Also guys have the band aid here.
After the run over I’m fine, the knees hurt a bit, mainly the right one, but I can do all the movements, I think the pain comes from the impact, not from a twist.
One of this days having a walk a man came to me.
– Hello.
– Hello.
– Do you have some time to talk?
– Yes, of course.
[After exchanging names, nationality and the question if I’ve liked the country].
– I think Europe has a problem. [I like the question so much adoring of the west sometimes annoyes me a bit]
– Which one is it?
– Europe has a problem with sex. I have satellite at home [banned in theory] and there are a lot of porn channels, hundreds [I don’t know how they do it but they have over 1400 channels].
– Aha
– And this is bad.
– Well, if you don’t want, you just don’t play them.
– But them are too many, in Europe there is a problem.
– Well, if someone spends four hours a day watching porn, I agree that he’s got a problem.
– It’s a problem in society, because it’s wrong.
– I don’t see it such as a big problem, who wants to see them can see them.
[This part of the conversation got stuck a bit as he couldn’t explain very well what “problem” meant to him].
– If you see a boy and a girl kissing in a car, what do you think?
– I don’t really care, it’s something that concerns them, hope they enjoy it.
– But it’s wrong.
– Why? If you don’t want to see them, don’t look and that’s it.
– But you don’t think it’s wrong?
– If both agree on kissing [I think he meant more than kissing] and is what they want. I don’t see evil on it. If every day they are with a different person, maybe they end up with a big mess on their heads, but initially it’s their problem.
[The conversation became a bit boring, we’ve been talking 45 minutes and I’m becoming bored. Just when I’m about to leave]
– What do I have to do to kiss a foreign girl?
– Sorry!?!?!
– Yes, if I want to kiss a foreign girl, what do I have to do?
– … I don’t know, there is not a set rule [What can I tell this guy?], You, at least, will have to ask her…
– And if I want to have sexual relations with her, What do I say? Can I have a sexual relation with you?
– [What can I tell him?] If you do that you won’t get laid and probably you’ll have a slap on your face. Pretend being nice, take them to see the city, buy an ice-cream, and if it works out… it is something that depends on the moment [in fact the guy is uglish and I don’t think he’ll be very lucky with the blonde Germans he likes]
– After the ice-cream can I ask them If I can have sexual relations with them?
[I think I’m not very good giving flirting advice so I move to something where I have more interest]
– So you are telling me that Europe has a problem with sex and you want to have sex with foreign girls [because you think it is going to be easier] not getting married and with no feeling at all?
– …
–  [I want to know more] Have you ever got into bed with a girl?
– Yes.
– That means more than one?
– Yes.
– Not being married.
– But I try not to do it, I try to be strong against myself for not doing it, because it’s bad.
[It’s becoming late, there’s nobody in the streets and I want to sleep. We say good bye, he thanks me for the open and honest conversation, I also tell him thanks it’s been interesting and fun, today i’ve really laugh].
It must be difficult to live in this society. On one side you have the religion saying one thing, supported by the government and part of society. On the other side is what you feel or want, an on other one the bombing of western television on the “non-existing” satellite. The “cool”, is the western, life style, the dressing style, the parties of the MTV videos. But, even being the “cool” here things can’t be like that.
P8261212  - Iran, Teherán, Tehran
 
No alcohol, but you can find all kinds of non alcocholic bears, even with pear taste.
Whisky2 - Iran, Teherán, Tehran)
 
Ilegal alcochol, I don´t want to imagine how bad it has to be.

Being conservative is also difficult, moreover for youngsters. Not always you can say openly that what you see on MTV you don’t like. It can’t be that you don’t like the “cool”, you have to be a bit of a rebel and drink in private parties. The ones that have money go on holidays to Dubai to drink whisky, And if you don’t like drinking whisky because you are Muslim and you believe in it? The society is divided, what to do? Can’t you be conservative? It’s not fair either.
In this kind of regime seems that, if you agree with the government, live in paradise, but here the ones that agree have their problems also.
P8271215 - Iran, Teherán, Tehran
 
In Iran the political system is different from anywhere else, it´s a theocratical republic. There is a religious power that controls the political power. A political party or a candidate can’t get into the elections unless it’s approved. The pictures of the two main leaders are everywhere.

P8301626 - Iran, Teherán, Tehran
 
Ahmadineyad is sometimes in the pictures as well, but a lot less. Do they put the pictures because they like them? Do they put them to pretend they like them?

I hope the glue lasts the activity inside the Chinese Embassy. The idea of having a possible illegal passport stresses me a little bit. I’m scared of having it damaged inside the embassy or as I cross the border.

See you soon.
Fernando

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