Not having any cake and not eating it

Trip Start Jul 2003
1
25
50
Trip End May 2005


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Flag of Iran  ,
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Number 8 (17th October 2003 - 9th November 2003)

It's not the cold we're worried about it's the cake-impeding Ramadan that's currently in full swing. The cakes in Turkey were stunning, I mean honestly the best in the world so far. We were trapped in Erzurum 'near' the Iranian border for ages. Apparently it gets -40 there. Befriended some locals (very hospitable) but we would have prefered crazy vodka frenzies currently
enjoyed by our Australian/Danish (ho ho) chums Tadek and Karin rather than the endless tea binges we've been challenged to. We went to a fairly decent Rock bar with live music; we could have handled the Eric Clapton they kindly played for us (unrequested), but the hot milk and sugar was almost too much.
It's 2.30am and we're staring at a plate of boiled eggs and tomatoes with some confusion. We're pondering on how the English have become known as the tea drinkers, when most of the occupants of this restaurant manage at least 30 cups of the stuff a day; our fellow diners are probably simply pondering on how on earth they are going to manage another day without it. Or tobacco. Or anything else by mouth. There's a strange irony that back in
native Britain we'd normally be partaking in Turkish fare of another kind at precisely this time, only kebab shops as we know them are a very long way from here and there appears to be a vital element missing: we haven't had a 'drink' for weeks now.
We struggle with another olive. Our hard fought Iranian visas have arrived, the validity strangely matching Ramadan. Even with our limited knowledge of C of E practises, 4.15am seems absurdly early to be heading to the nearest beautiful place of worship. Within an hour or two, our new and considerate friends will escort us back and bed will feature again for another dream ridden sleep. At least the mosque visit will prove a more effective remedy to the mid-sleep feasting than the Alka Seltzer the previous morning.
At the Iranian border we stood for a while watching a shepherd and his huge wolf-dogs coax a huddled group of black sheep down the rock-strewn hillside, past two opposing watch towers each proudly flying almost
entwining flags. The promised five hour border wait lasted a full ten minutes, followed by endless, "Welcome to Iran!" A very well spoken Iranian gentleman informed us of everything and when asked, enthusiastically told us he had studied English Literature at university. He was close to tears when Emma mentioned that she had just finished 'Wuthering Heights'. He presented us with a leaflet, 'Today ladies should perform their social and religious duties and preserve public chastity', and we set off for the nearest town of Bazargan.
Waiting a while in Maku, we headed for Tabriz. A street vendor wouldn't serve us 4 cucumbers (most are buying hundreds) and a passer by stopped,served us and paid for them himself before disappearing into the crowd. The people here are very honest and embarrassingly hospitable, someone's always buying our shopping or cooking us dinner. Whilst all women have their heads enscarfed, hair is always visible but it was ages before we saw any coveted wrists or ankles. Will doesn't like being sardined into the metro carriage whilst Emma gets to ride in the 'ladies only'.

Just got our Pakistan and Indian visas today so we're heading off down into the country to get away from the smog and traffic. Esfahan, Yazd and Bam next; we don't know when you'll hear from us next but we'll give you time to digest all of this.

And now, courtesy of Tim and Kom from Halesworth,
THE WORLD'S EASIEST QUIZ (Passing requires only 4 correct answers)

1) How long did the Hundred Years War last?
2) Which country makes Panama hats?
3) From which animal do we get catgut?
4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?
6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?
7) What was King George VI's first name?
8) What colour is a purple finch?
9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
10) What is the colour of the black box in a commercial airplane?

All done? Check your answers below!

Will and Emma



ANSWERS TO THE QUIZ
1) How long did the Hundred Years War last? 116 years
2) Which country makes Panama hats? Ecuador
3) From which animal do we get cat gut? Sheep and Horses
4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution? November
5) What is a camel's hair brush made of? Squirrel fur
6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal? Dogs
7) What was King George VI's first name? Albert
8) What color is a purple finch? Crimson
9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from? New Zealand
10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane? Orange, of course.
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