Monday, April 17, 2006


Notice! to read the full story, have a look at my book “Vagabonding in the Axis of Evil – By thumb in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan”. Clic here to learn more. Order a copy and keep me on the road!

Is Shiraz nice? – we asked the driver of big Mercedes truck taking us there. As an answer he simply points the height at which the women wear their scarves, and laughs out loud. It’s clear our drivers are far from puritanism. When they take confidence they start calling their president “Ali Baba”. Soon they are loading their water pipe with opium and lit it. A surreal approach to Shiraz starts to take shape. Our guidebook praises the sophistication of the city, but then suggests that strolling around its gardens and mausoleums should be a sample. I guess our approach was a bit less aerobic. We put a CD of Manu Chao in the player and we were all soon chanting like enchanted loonies. The drivers accomplish a bit of a job by singing to the Spanish lyrics they didn’t understand at all, and repeated each chorus “Me gustas tu, me gustas tu…” It was impossible to know what this phrase meant for our new friends. The Mercedes is an illegal wheeled karaoke, an avenging light in the heart of Persia. Let’s not speak about road safety: let’s just face we were all trusting someone else was taking care of the road. Drugs end up stimulating brotherhood more than fear-inducting TV does…

Already on the outskirts of the big city, a smaller truck offered us a ride to the center, and we ended playing poker with the driver and three workers in a building for which his father was the responsible engineer. Go with the flow. With the tea flow. Our new friends is hyperactive, every half an hour se stands up with a new idea. He deserves to be nicked Mr. Nerve. It is 1 am and Mr. Nerve considers urgent to visit some friends who run a restaurant, so we jump in the old Mercedes 608 truck and drive there. When we arrive there are two guys in the door. One has a Marx like beard, his pal is bold. The bold guy throws lights matches and throws them in the air. Marx catches them with his mouth, putting them out. As a symmetric ending for such a senseless series of event, we end up sleeping in a power plant, whose guard is Mr. Nerve friend.

No need to say that Mr. Nerve had fallen in love with Alba. He appeared in the hotel we took the following morning, spotlessly dressed and with his car’s engine on. Mach to his dismay, Alba was out with two new friends she had met on the streets, two Iranian girls who lived in Canada. We were also in pain shock when Alba related to us his adventure the following morning. It seems that while we roamed aimlessly the streets of Shiraz in search of an opened kebab shop, Alba took classes in Iranian nightlife. Night happens in a street in the north of the city. The boys drive their cars and the girls board them. "If it's not a Citroen or a Peugeot, don't even look". –explain the two girls to Alba. "If it is a Peugeot or a Citroen, look at the clothes, and if you have time, at their faces". In that order. So they ended in the beautiful car of three ugly guy’s form that they had to run. As usual in Iran, prohibition leads to extremes. As alcohol is forbidden, people drink ethanol behind close doors. As socializing is forbidden, they jump in the cars of strangers.

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