Leaving Turkey, I was full of mixed feelings. The hospitality, the people, the harshness of the eastern side. The weather that nearly had us stuck in Erzunum with the high plains summer zero degrees and sudden heavy snow fall. Then in Agri the push off my bike followed by several locals helping lift the bike and others beating the culprits as I drove off, tears of anger and frustration came a bit later. Being the only woman in sight in these towns is only going to be rectified by an education system that makes the girls realise that the world can be their oyster if they can get international skills.
The Turkey / Iran border was a slow process for no obvious reason but it did give me the chance to meet some local women who told me not to cover like they were because I don’t have to. Also I was told by a local woman to tell any one asking me to cover up that “I’m not Iranian and I won’t do it”. I have reached a compromise with a scarf and find the ladies in black keen to engage me and very friendly. Iran is such a safe and normal feel compared to the streets and chaos of east turkey. No begging, the children beautifully cared for and presented. No harassment in the market. The driving conditions are challenging and the men who ask you “do you need help” or “welcome to Iran” at 120kph while they drive about 10cm from you are oblivious of any dangers.
Tabriz is great, I’ve learned farsi numbers today. Off on the road tomorrow at 8am