A feature that has struck me almost from the day our journey began, has been the of flocks of sheep and goats grazing the common land along the roads of eastern Europe, and in increasing numbers in Turkey and Iran. Each flock of up to 100 sheep and goats is looked after by a shepherd, usually a young boy, a dog and an ass which is usually used to carry food and weather protection for the shepherd. Marco Polo refers to the ass’s of this area as being famous for their load carrying ability and for their sure footed movement.
There are no fences along these roads, so the shepherds role is to ensure his sheep are kept clear of the road, have enough food and water, and are protected from harm, a role that has, I suspect been happening on these roads for many thousands of years, and which continues to this day. As I ride passed I always wave to the shepherds and they smile and always wave back. On our way into Tehran yesterday, a city of 14 million people, there along side a 6 lane freeway crammed with trucks and cars all travelling at around a 100kmph was a flock of sheep and goats, a shepherd and a dog, still no fences, it illustrated perfectly the contrasts in this wonderful country of Iran.