We are back in the Netherlands. And this time not because I broke something but for nicer reasons. Even though we miss the traveling life already we know that it is only for a moment because this is not the end of our journey.
We traveled by train from Shiraz to Tehran where we first go back to Ali and Saman. It is a very nice reunion and they immediately show us around. First some delicious food, then to a bridge that connects two parks and then to a luxury shopping mall. The day ends with good food, shisha and tea. We’re going to sleep late and tomorrow we’re going to disassemble our bikes and pack for the plane.
We’ve been talking to Said a long time ago. He is a Warmshowers host and says he has experience packing bicycles for the plane. He arrives at Ali with another friend. The two of them get to work and we get tea and have to watch. Sometimes I give them some instructions, but most of all we have to relax and sit down. This situation is typical of our journey. We have no control over the situation, we just have to let go and trust that it will be okay. It results in a whole day packing bikes, trying to make clear what we want and finally letting go of what we want and packing our bikes the Iranian way. Some cardboard, some bubble plastic and wax plastic wrap and let’s hope the bikes come home in one piece.
We sleep that night at Saïd and the next day we set off to a park in the north of the city. One last glimpse of Iran, the last time hearing the sounds, entering the crowds, smelling the smells of the market we walk through, seeing how people negotiate and are looking for the best quality fabrics, bags and spices. We see big jugs with salted water and young walnuts. Something we haven’t seen before. It reflects what we have appreciated so much during almost the entire trip you only see what is available at the time on the markets. Living with the seasons. That is something we are not used to in a western country’s but which can be so normal and what was so normal for my parents when they were young. Do we really need to have all fruits and vegetables in the supermarket all year round?
The park appears to be a tourist attraction. Like many tourist spots here, it is mainly visited by Iranians. We’ve seen one couple who aren’t from here either. It could have been a beautiful, relaxing natural area here, but it is full of restaurants above a steeply steaming river where you sit above on plateaus. Loud music is played everywhere. We walk up the steps in the hope that we will arrive in a quieter area, but we also look forward to how the people have filled this place. There seems to be no end to it, but then after a considerable climb we arrive in a beautiful area. We look out over the city with cliffs to the right and left of us, it is green and mountainous here. We enjoy being here, the view and we play a game of backgammon before we have to go back to prepare for our flight tonight.
Saïd surprises us at the exit of this area. He picks us up by car to go to Ali. Ali then takes us to the airport and Saïd comes there with all our stuff. We say goodbye to people we have only known for a short time but who we have close to our hearts. They have helped us so much and they have taken us around the city so that we have been able to discover the city from their eyes.
There we go. We suddenly torn away from our traveling life. The life where you feel so connected with the environment, with nature, with the people. The life where we live completely in the moment. The life where we are almost always outdoors. The life where we are physically active most of our time. The life where we had room for reflection, for growth and for our relationship. We are privileged to be able to make the choice to take a break. We made this choice a long time ago. In Turkey we have booked the tickets. Quirijn’s brother who lives in Australia is coming to the Netherlands. It’s been so long since the family was complete that we didn’t have the heart to travel on. In addition, Q’s sister had her second child and a friend of mine had her first child. We knew that if we kept going the kids might be two when we would first see them. In addition, my parents have moved out of the city and into a house with a big piece of land and Q’s mother is retiring after more than 40 years of hard work. In short, for us personally, there were plenty of reasons to go home as a sort of vacation from our traveling life.
As some of you may know, one of our goals was ‘not to fly’. Two months ago we also had great doubts. What do we do? We felt pressure from within ourselves and perhaps also from outside. What will people think of us and what do we think about ourselfs. We have discussed this with several fellow travelers. Some also have the goal of traveling without flying but we also know how difficult it is. We could never reach Australia without catching a plane somewhere. This because of all the troubled areas that lie between us and Australia. If you take a boat you are not doing much more sustainably, that is also extremely polluting. There are many travelers on their way who have to change their plans, few because of closed borders, we because we want to see our families. Life changes, ideas change, routes change, plans change. And that’s allright.
That’s it for now. We are already planning the next trip. See you soon!