We got up on the proverbial wrong side of the tent this morning, our bad moods brought on by too little sleep and the thought of making our way back through the village whose residents had followed us down a goat trail and then stayed to watch us for hours the day before. Two of the young men who’d sat outside our tent door in the afternoon even scrambled the considerable distance up the hill after dark to yell “Hello Mister” outside our tent, trying to encourage us to come out. Nothing could have dragged us out of our sleeping bags after the day we’d had and we were none too pleased with our visitors who wanted us to provide them with more entertainment.
Only when Andrew shouted “go away” in a gruff voice did they finally get the hint and leave. Did they think we’d be singing campsongs in the evening? We didn’t realise until later on, when neither of us could sleep and what rest we did get was punctuated by anxiety dreams, just how stressed we were because of the constant attention.
It was a relief to find the village largely deserted when we rolled through and started retracing our steps back to the city of Kazeroon, the better part of a day’s ride away. Even though we’d seen it before, the beautiful landscape and quiet roads helped us to relax. It was only when we returned to the main road that we started to lose our tempers. Most Iranians are wonderful but the hormone-high young men on motorbikes will be the end of us.
Our afternoon fit started when two of these culprits played a favourite trick, driving straight towards us screaming at the top of their lungs and then swerving away at the last minute to see if we’ll flinch. We’ve seen it all before so now we don’t budge but you can imagine how annoying this is. The usual shenanigans followed with dozens of people taking pictures and videos of us on their mobile phones, coming up to talk to us loudly in a language we can’t understand as well as following us in their cars and yelling at us as they pass while we try and concentrate on the busy roads. It’s almost exclusively men under 30 who feel the need to get our attention. Everyone else is happy to wave and smile from the sidelines, which we don’t mind at all.
We cursed loudly at more than a few people, not that this did any good. The men on bikes just found this all the more amusing and did their best to get another reaction from us. We will have to work on our ability to grumble in silence.
By the end of this second stressful day we were ready for a quiet night but the funniest example of weird behaviour from this segment of Iranian society was yet to come. We stopped our bikes in a field, looking for a place to camp. Out of the corner of our eye we saw a man crawling on his belly across a farm track and behind a rock, trying to sneak a glance at us from a distance but not doing a very good job of hiding. We then watched as he continued to edge along various fences and behind walls, peeking at us every so often, and then crawling away in a different direction. From a child this would be understandable but from an adult? When we went to approach him he got up and walked away like nothing had happened. We were both amused and suspicious of his intentions so instead of camping in the field we went across the road to ask three old men if they knew of a safe place for our tent. Of course they came up trumps with a spot in their orange grove, which is guarded through the night. All’s well that ends well.