Translated by: Balázs Németh
At first we would like to apologize because of the lot of the pictures. I could not stop posting. We already have experienced in Turkey, that the long-distance buses are different from Hungarian ones (actually there is no long distance in Hungary). Seats are bigger, space is longer for legs and there is a screen at the back of the seats like on planes. If we would give a star to Turkish buses, buses in Iran would get at least 2 more. We found 28 seats on the bus against 40 in Hungary. The right seat line was double, the left was just single one. Or it was not really a seat. It was basically an armchair with a leg holder like in the living room of American houses. It is very comfortable. The driving speed limit is not a rule, just also a suggestion for the buses. We succeed the 620 km in 8 hours with a longer break. The transportation of our bicycles was not free, but it was quite okay. The whole distance has cost 11000Huf (~35Euro) with everything.
As we were closer to Tehran we were more and more excited to see our friends. We need to wait for the kisses, because it took almost an hour, to catch them on the station. The bus station of Tehran is a little bit bigger than Népliget (one of the Hungarian station in the capital) and buses park where they think it is free. There is not numbered and separated arrival part of the station. Habib, the member of Persian family came to pick up us at the bus stop. But he also couldn’t have solved the parking in easy way, because of the traffic jam. We also got in trouble, because everything was written in Persian letters and each place was colorful. It looked like a parody when I ran between the marketplaces with my mobile on my ears to find Habib. Finally we met and we hugged each other. We thought that we stuck on the station. We got home fast and started to put in our luggage again to the house. We found it so boring, but maybe standing under the sun and writing parking fines it worse. Mina (Habib’s wife) fallen upon Eni’s neck when she saw her. Mina couldn’t have come to the station because her leg was broken.
We took a shower, ate a dinner and enjoyed the joy in the rest part of the night. We could not believe that we are in Tehran again and we can see each other.
We had a long sleep. Eni felt herself better than yesterday. She got an illness with throat ache and dizziness. We suspected that her immune system was too weak and she caught a light pharyngitis which she wanted to unbend in Tabriz. Habib went to work. He has a joiner yard and presentation room with his cousin and he must finish his job and get out for some free days. They made a surprise for us at night that they take us to the desert with some of their friends. It was fantastic idea! We packed everything for the evening what we need for (tent, sleeping bag, mattress, plates, headlamp, knife, clothes) and we went to sleep immediately, because Habib said that we need to wake up early. At 5:30 we put our stuff to the car and we turned south to the Maranjab desert, to the direction of Isfahan. We meet in the car with the other 2 friends of Habib and we left Tehran. We could have wondered the statue/tomb of Khomeni Ajatollah. He was not a megalomaniac and his followers did not think that it might have been a big statue from 2 milliard dollars. We were looking for a place for breakfast. Or it was not a real desert, but it looked like a desert. It was almost completely bare while we were going south. The traffic was massive because all of the families tried to make use of the weekend. Next to the highway there are a lot of families with rug on the sand. Our friends got a nice place a little bit further from the highway. We drove 150-200 meters between the sand bumps. Unfortunately we forgot our basket with food because of hurry but we were taken pity by others so we could have eaten as well.
After breakfast we maintained our breakfast and wondered the landscape which had breathtaking shapes and colors against its barrenness. The first city we stopped, called Nushaba. It is famous for: 15 years ago the ground ruptured and fell down under one of the habitant. After he looked around under falling and he was shocked from the view. There was one fool who said that there is another city under Nushaba. After the inspection, scientists came and checked the tunnel system. Finally they set out that it is a 1500 year old tunnel system on 3 levels. They dig the tunnels by hand in the clayey ground. They used it to hide from enemy. After that people realized that there is no hill and other place to hide they needed to go under ground from danger. They needed it escape several times. Arabic, Afghans, Mongolian, Turkish people attacked them what we know. For the tunnels they made ventilation pits and they could have stayed under the up to 10 days. After they needed to go up and get some food water and check out the sun.
Can you imagine how that to stay in the tunnels without light for 10 days was? They stored food, water in different rooms and there was also restroom. Average side could have been about 160cm, because Eni was just suitable but I had to take care of my head lot of times. Maybe it had different places for women and man for better secure? We do not know. But the fact that all of the houses had one entrance to the tunnel system via secret door under the fireplace. They designed the tunnels that if you did not know the way, you got lost immediately and you can be disposable. A password was needed to the entrance what was known by just the habitants in the city. Now you may know it, but please don’t tell it to anybody. It was “Oi”. It does not have a meaning but it was the life for the people in the city. It is said that this is the biggest tunnel city in the world. At some places, the wall was wet and spreadable and sometimes it was absolutely dry. We got known that they knew and used Pascal rule 1200 years before that the scientist would had made it. They used it for air and water transportation if we understood it correct way. We have mentioned sometimes that water is in the tunnel and water in the city. But how do they get water? We checked out a 500 year old water container what was built to in the middle of the city. They got water from the hills via tubes. Imagine a 10-12 m diameter vertical tube with the same size of height. To keep the water refreshed, they used wind chimney where the fresh air could come in and go out. There were stairs from the ground level to the bottom of the cistern. We could also have got water standing on stairs. It was so interesting. The whole village looked liked after a time travel. Walls from mixture of mug, clay, straw are still used nowadays. Straw was needed that the walls do not crack after rain. We were so hungry so we looked for some food. We had lunch in a small restaurant in the village as a kebab wit 7up. We smiled, because drunk 7up last time when we were children.
The moment came what we were waiting for the whole day. We are going to the desert!!! It looked like we drove out one of the thin streets of the village and suddenly there was a small booth next to the street. That was the border of the desert. All of the cars must pay a fee of entering to the national park. We have got strong wind all the day and now we saw what it can do in the desert. We recognized a police car next to the road. They put a wreck of a car up to a trailer in a sand storm. They did not see each other, 3 of them dead. It may possible that they did not drive just 40km/h, because it is not usual here. We saw less and less plants and the ground became sandy from rocky. We helped some cars to escape from the prison of sand. You have better to be a good driver between dunes. Habib was tired because of all day driving and hotness and he asked me to be a driver for a small amount of time. I asked, of course. It is not usual that I can drive in a desert. So I drove for 20-25kms while Habib and Eni sleept in a car. We drove 45kms to the direction of desert when we reached Shah Abbasi caravanserai and we checked it about free beds for sleeping. The serai functions like a tourist attraction. You can sleep in the rooms as well. But you need stay at the place for poor people on the corridors and in smaller rooms. We can’t sleep every day in a caravanserai, but we were more interested in sleeping in the desert. Other part of the team also realized it fast that the children crying and loudness it not the recipe for a calm night. So finally we went to the desert for the night. For sleeping we needed to go inside to a desert a little bit more. On the way we found a wild camel herd eating a grass next to the road. Of course we stopped immediately and tried to catch the camels. They were peaceful and did not get disturbed by us. If we went to close they just walked further. There were bigger, smaller, black, white, brown camels. We also pulled up water in a plastic bag. Some of them even allowed to be stroked. We could also have noticed another interesting animal at “work”. It was dung-beetle tried to clean up the important nutrients left by camels. This bug has a huge force, like when I would try to roll a car standing on my hands.
Finally we found our place for sleeping on the real desert sand what you can’t find everywhere just in Egypt and Arabic countries. The huge dunes were red in the sunset some hundreds of meters behind us. We started to install the tent which was not an easy task because sand was not the best base for tent spikes. Finally we got some stone and rolled around with string after dig it in the sand. For the dinner they made a chicken kebab on coil with stick, like “saslik” in Hungary. It was very delicious and we were also hungry. We talked during dinner and sing some Hungarian songs to them. We found some interesting animals at night. At first we thought that it is a small bug with light but when we got closer we realized, that those are the eyes of a lizard at the light of our headlamp. They were 8-10 cm long yellow-white lizards. After some minutes we saw a desert mouse which was much bigger than mouse at home. It has longer legs and it stood up for those and looked at us. We were tired because of the long day and we went to sleep early. During the night we needed to pee and we went out to the sand from the tent. All of the stars were visible with Milky Way far from the light pollution. It was wonderful.
We ate the breakfast about 9 on our big rug. Sand made it difficult because it used our food as a landing field. We packed everything and put inside a car after we started to go on foot to the top of the closest dune. We have been just once on dunes before. It was yesterday and those were much smaller in the distance. There was something like a hill in front of us. The height was about 100-150 meters. The sun shined quite strong at the time, but the sand was hot just some fields, we could have stood on it. It was a great experience to look at those big changing sand dunes. It looked like a top of the ice cream in the container designed by a confectioner’s spoon. While we were walking up I had a felling like in the snow. Of course we made a lot of pictures with our action camera. We left our main camera in the car because it would have got a lot of sand. It is hard to describe the feeling of the desert. It was wonderful, peaceful and scary, wild in the same time. Habib changed the rolling option to the way down. It caused that after the action he just sat on the ground for a while. We guess he waited until sand comes out from his ears and his sickness is over because of rolling.
Our wondering was not ended yet, because we dropped off to the car and went to the salty lake or to the area of the lake without water. The salt condenses from the water after bigger rains. In this time there is 20-30cm water in the lake, otherwise zero. We can go through on it by car it tells everything about the deepness of the lake. It is the same flat area as before but a little bit lower level and it has a lot of salt fields in a shape of honeycomb. It was a vet dollop and our sandals got a wide layer of this. We took a lot of pictures and we experienced that jumping in a same time can’t be feasible even if someone counts outside.
We started to go home. We talked a lot and let the air come inside and through the car. During leaving the desert we needed to help for a stuck car. 8 of us suffered at least for 15 minutes until we could push it from the sand because the Peugeot sunk to axis. We also had lunch in Nushabad but it was a picnic in a park where we could visit the toilet and wash the sticky sand from our skin. On the way home we stopped for an ice cream which was extremely good in the afternoon hotness. We could admire the big mosaic picture near by the parking lot.
Our “weekend” was wonderful and exciting. I can’ put it in hierarchy of our list of experiences but the desert visiting will not be forgettable for a while.