Tuesday, 8 July 2008

ROASTING IN THE DESERT











Not long after leaving Tehran the countryside turned into semi-desert (much like the drier areas of the Karoo in SA). It became rather hot, and even the breeze felt like a hair-dryer in my face. Soon Leana began to suffer from the heat, and by the 3rd morning she was too ill to continue cycling, so she took a bus to Pakistan. She's obviously recovered now, because at the moment she is on a trekking adventure in the Northern mountains. It was also necessary for us to get a move-on towards the border due to the never-ending visa story (our Iranian visas were close to expiry). As I pushed on towards the South-East it became even hotter and more arid. In the Kerman region the production of pistacio nuts is big business, and the orchards are irrigated by pumping up ground water which flows in channels. In the heat these water channels were very welcome, and I made regular stops there to stock up on cool drinking water, and to soak my clothes. By the time I'd reached the oasis city of Bam (recently ravished by earthquake), I was well inside the proper desert. At one stage a truck driver informed me that the temperature was 55 degrees celcius, and the road ahead would be even hotter (my subsequent experience confired that he'd spoken the truth). At the time it was my opinion that only "Mad Dogs" and "Just-as-mad-Cyclists" wander around that area in the middle of summer. Drinking water quickly became hot enough to make tea, but "hot water" is better than "no water", so I made sure that I stayed properly hydrated. I was also able to do some "scientific experiments", and noticed that a 2 litre plastic bottle of solid ice turned to hot water in less than 30 minutes. The heat, however, was not my main problem. Apparently tourists are regularly abducted in the area (both Iranian and Pakistani sides of the border). So, for my "own safety" the Iranian police & army prevented me from cycling further than a certain point on my own. In the last 200 km to the border I had 10 police or army "escorts", mostly on the back of vehicles but sometimes I was allowed to follow them by bike. More than once my escorts dropped me off along the desert road without me having a clue regarding distances to the next place on my map. On one such occasion I was left without any drinking water, as my water bottles had fallen off the back of the truck (a result of the usual reckless driving). At one stage when I had been left to cycle on without an escort, I had a rather unpleasant encounter with a car-load of armed men in traditional dress (fortunately I survived unscathed, and with my meagre possessions still intact). Right now I'm in the city of Quetta, Pakistan. I was again forced to take a bus here from the border, which may not have been such a safe option as the bus ahead of us was robbed during the night (but that's a whole story on its own). Daily distances cycled since Tehran were:- Qom 124 km; Kashan 113 km; Ardestan 139 km; Aqda 165 km; Mehriz 197 km; Rafsanjan 161 km; Mahan 155 km; Desert Camp 95 km; Nosrat Abad 193 km; Taftan 25 km; and Quetta 23 km.

4 comments:

Santie said...

Dit begin al hoe meer na Tintin adventures klink.... Bly jy's nog OK. Spoel weg hier in die Kaap. Baie koud en re├źn nou al vir dae. Veral die Weskus het groot skade. My ma-hulle was vir dae vasgekeer op die plaas in Vredendal. Maar eerder die koue as 55 grade en bandits!
Mooi ry.

Grant said...

You have my admiration for enduring through this. The things I and my expat colleagues sometimes moan about in Lagos and Lunda are absolutely insignificant by comparison.

David Gassner said...

Hey Ernest, still reading the blog, fascinating stuff all the things you have been subjected to. When you write it all down it is going to make good reading. Like Santie said, it is cold wet and windy here. Keep well and all the best from Dave and Chel.

Lois said...

Hi Ernest
Wow what adventures you are having.
I thought that I was brave - but you guys!
It is getting warmer in Cape Town now - thank goodness. The storms and rains made life miserable for many people.
Where is Leana? I know trekking - but where and for how long?
Hugs
Lois