The new Swchalbe Mondiale wheels, they could not with this screw…
The last few days we spent in Cizre, city of the Turkish Kurdistan, were intense. Vafi, Member of CS, he hosted us in his house and we enjoyed with him and his friends with their hospitality and Kurdish dances at the party were mounted. Intense because we were one of the hearts of the Turkish Kurdistan the same day that the PKK announced that it was abandoning weapons and advised the militiamen who live in the mountains, a few kilometres from Cizre and near the border with Iraq, leave the Turkish Kurdistan. First steps in the peace process… we hope to see the solution soon.
While we waited to Vafi, we met with Sevil, English teacher from a school in Cizre, with whom we share two days of lectures and birthday celebrations. Sevil is Turkish but his family is of Syrian origin. They live in the South of Turkey but very close to Syria and Arabic is their mother tongue. Once again we were able to realize the diversity of cultures that live in these lands of Mesopotamia.
We said goodbye to these lands, pedaling along the Tigris. We already did with the Euphrates and now was his brother, which makes natural border with Syria. Later, in the South of Iraq, both rivers will melt to create the Shat Al Arab and die in the Persian Gulf.
We have already said in the previous post that we wanted to cross to Iran from Kurdistan. What we didn’t said was that we would enter to Iran from Iraq Kurdistan. We expect you to understand that we didn’t want to put our families nervous hearing the word Iraq.
Our first plan was to cross to Iran from Turkey through the border that there is next to the Lake Van. But as you know, the plans are to change and so we did it.
When we were in Capadoccia we met with Randy, who told us that he had friends who had crossed it and who told him that the Iraqi Kurdistan was a very safe and quiet place to ride. Wow! a new possibility that was not in our minds… that’s good. We look a little on the internet and effectively we find cycle travellers who had done and saying the same as Randy. When we went to Trabzon to take Iran visa we met with Rafael, who had also crossed it in bicycle with Tanya a couple of years ago and told us the same thing. In addition, taking this route, we will not cross the mountains that are on the border between Turkey and Iran and which still remained very cold and snowy.
We started to break the prejudices that we had about Iraq word and we started one more time.
When we arrived at the border the body felt different. Because the stress of having to do the paperwork and answer various questions, and because we never thought to go to Iraq. But basically we were calm, despite everything you hear about this country, and we wanted to complete the data and the experience that we were missing to really feel what happens.
The Iraqi Kurdistan operates as an autonomous area within Iraq. In the 1980s Sadam Hussein lay siege to the Kurdish people. After the genocide in Anfal, which killed 182,000 Kurds, they rebelled and they had to take refuge in the lands of the North, or escape to Europe. As a result of this international movement that facilitated the return of thousands of refugees and in 2003, when the United States attacked the Arab part of Iraq, the Kurds allied themselves with the Yankees, getting successive Governments and the United Nations, to accept them as a federal entity within Iraq.
It can be said that they were born in 2005, and it shows. It is a country with much oil, much gas… and lots of money. One told us that it was going to be the new Dubai. I don’t know if it will be for both but it is true that they are building a lot of houses and roads. We saw A few cars that we have not seen in Europe. Gasoline costs about € 0.7 one litre and the Government is helping his people, albeit a dubious Government… you know what a mean? The language spoken is the Iraqi Kurdish that differs with that of Turkey and Iran. In the schools is the official language, although they have also lessons in Arabic and English.
As we had said, the North of Iraq is a very safe place. It is true that every certain miles you have to cross check points, where some ask for the Passport, but they are not strict… what they want to know is if you’re from Madrid football team or from Barca, and if you guess from witch team is him correctly, they become crazy. Another almost breaks me hand when I told him that he was Basque. If you have a Spanish passport, you are welcoming because the whiskers (Aznar) had allied with Bush to attack Iraq… paradoxes of life.
They don’t understand life without the Barcelona or Real Madrid, without Messi and Ronaldo. They have told us that there have been cases in which police had to act to bring peace between the fans… crazy world.
The first two days we were lucky to feeling the celebration of their new year, the Newroz, although the traffic we had and the lack of shoulder to go with the bike made us have to spend two days with a bit of tension.
They celebrate it by going to the field and spending a couple of days with tents, eating and dancing their dances that are very similar to that we saw and danced in the Turkish Kurdistan.
It’s amazing just like passing a border can change the personality of the people. Upon entering the Iraqi Kurdistan we realized, that it wasn’t easy recived a wave. It is not easy to forget how lucky you are when you go by Turkey and the Turkish Kurdistan. We think now everyone will be as well. Here you have to take the first step. That Yes, when they perceived their faces change. Knowing this, was not hard to find with wonderful people who welcomed us in their homes or who brought us breakfast at the door of our house in the morning.
One day a pickup stopped next to us and told us that they invited a chay in a small house. We asked him if we could put the tent near the house and there was no problem. We arrived at the House and suddenly we have a general Kurdish retired who owned all the lands which they were around, playing cards with a religious leader, with another Catholic Kurdish military officer who did not stop yaw us and another boss and all drinking a little. The general had a machine gun at his side and a slight dizziness in the body, which made us live one evening a little surreal or realistic… That Yes, we were invited to dinner and the morning we had breakfast.
After the second day, road is reassured and we could enjoy the mountains of the north.
We find Arab shepherds from the Mosul area who often come in the spring to these rich lands, with animals.
The word Monsul and Baghdad are sign of insecurity, the Kurds told a lot of times. The 90 percent of the people repeated us that the Kurdish area was very safe but that not occurred to us go to the Arab area. It is true that at any time we didn’t think and in fact it is not possible, because at check points does not let you cross. But once again youare asking your self why not while you’re trying to communicate with a sheep keeper who lives in the insecure area and wonder what’s happening in rural areas where you can find with people like this. The first thing they say was: come and eat something with us. Will be unsafe travel by bike across the countryside of the Arab Iraq?… We always will have the doubt.
Road to the East,we also have slides and quiet roads for cycling.
From Turkey we wonder why in these lands the sheep and goats are always together in the herd and our lands are separated… If anyone has the answer, we would appreciate your explanation.
Watching time pass…
… seeing how passes the time.
Twenty kilometres of Soran, and five meters before which began a very hard port , a truck driver stopped his truck and he told us that no, he wanted help us to climbing into the truck. They are those moments in which you think that these stories are also part of the trip and that you have to accept them. So we did it, and we just going day and night at home with his family.
We were able to visit this amazing place.
We were two days more in these lands and we were slowly rising and approaching the mountains where is the passage of the border with Iran.
That day we stopped at Choman to regain strength. We stopped in front of the headquarters of the political party that is in power. We started to get the food but in two minutes had already came a party man saying to go to the building to eat. We think they would let a site to be more comfortable, but really they wanted to invite to eat to us. We ate and finally took us to the office of the boss and his henchmen with whom we were chatting. Once more time, pure realism.
For end of the day, we ask for water at a school and we were invited to the home of the English teacher.
Luck? No, is as well.
We spent our last day in Iraqi Kurdistan, going up the port…
… and we crossed to Iran with hundreds of trucks carrying gasoline from a legal and illegal way to Iran.
In Iran, we arrived at Piranshahr…
… where we thought that they were waiting us.
The next day we return to the road and started to feel the first signs that feel when you are in a new country. The money: A kilo of apples we paied 20000 rials. It can not be possible… they cheat us… Well, we already see… Until you realize after a few days and more experience there that it has cost you 0.45 €. This area of the Northwest of Iran is also Kurdish but is mixed with the Iranians and the Turks coming from the Azerbaijan. All is a big mix.
On the same day you can listen farsi, official language of Iran, Kurdish language and a mix of Turkish-farsi, they speak it the Azerbaijan offsprings. One more time, a big mix.
We cycled 3 days around the salt lake of Urmia.
This Salt Lake is drying and is not because nature has decided it. Once more the politicians who are seated at a table have decided so. They built a dam above and now the lake does not have all the water that it need.
Even so, the lake has given us incredible landscapes.
We slept in a small village called Balestan where we were well received by all the people. We arrived and asked a man if we could mount the store. The answer was as clear as “Yes, because not?, easy once more.” Iranians are accustomed to traveling with the tent. In these days of the new year holiday, also here in Iran, many people travel with the store in the car and in the cities are enabled parks to the people to spend the night. Then during the year there are special places where you can pitch the tent and not pay anything. why not in our countries?
From the moment you walk in Iran you feel once again the hospitality and naturalness of people. Iran, Word forbidden in these days in the international community, only by the references given in the media manipulated and interested who don’t want to teach the other “Iran”. Because they focus only on what happens with the Governments, political and international interests? Why Not give first the real message of how is it people standing? Is it possible that we have the idea that the people of Iran is dangerous? We have spent nine days in Iran and I promise that you need an hour only to feel the kindness, hospitality and respect that these people have. We are going to be long time for these lands and will have the opportunity to live the reality. Already, we’ll tell you.
In a few days we will meet with our parents in Iran and we will visit it together. It will be a great meet for everyone.
Aaaaaah! the new look of María…
A BIG HUG TO ALL!!