I reluctantly got moving this morning, knowing that every action was one step closer to the moment I would be riding away from the people I have grown to love dearly. When the time came I rode away to the sound of a prayer being spoken and water being thrown in my wake. Laden with a mountain of food gifts, I followed Akbar, Alirezar and Mohammad Madti, who occupied the car that led me to the western edge of the city and the road that would take me to new adventures.
I have decided not to go to Iraq. The situation in Iraqi Kurdistan is too uncertain for me to try to visit there. Tension is at an all-time high and there are reports that the borders are closed. Thus, instead of heading further southwest towards Kurdistan, I am now heading north-northwest towards Tabriz.
For the beginning of the day I road some dirt roads that lie to the east of the main highway. These took me through farmland, where I became overburdened with food gifts given me by families visiting their fruit orchards. Mid-afternoon, I left the peace of the off-road and rode the smaller of the two main roads that head to Tabriz. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the traffic was lighter than I expected and I didn’t feel threatened. I could spend my time in my own head. Throughout the whole day all I have thought about is the incredible time I have had with the family. I relived each day and then turned my attention to the future, imagining myself coming back here to live. One day I would like to challenge myself by living in a country that has a different language and culture. Maybe Iran, and Zanjan in particular, can be it?
Despite a late start to the day and time spent recording some video, I made a good distance, helped by good winds. My tent is being buffeted by strong winds right now as it stands next to a small corn field. I left the main road on a small track that took me through a tunnel under the railway line. The railway is raised above the surrounded land, so it provides a nice barrier between me and the main road. I am surrounded by fields that lead to bare rounded hills that appear beautifully contoured when hit by the angled light of the setting sun. I didn’t bother cooking as I was given enough food by the family. For dinner I have eaten a couple of sandwiches. I really didn’t want to say bye to them and it hurts a little that every day will take me further away.
|Distance ridden today||106.06km|
|Average cycling speed||22.3kph|
|Total distance ridden||24,081km|