Sunday, 16 March 2014

wheel within a wheel

We have a great stay with Zahra and her family.  There are many reasons for this.  Zahra engages us with great conversation.  Her dad quotes fables from Lafontaine. Her mum cooks fabulous food.  We are treated to some of the traditional dishes of Gilan province and although we feel obliged to eat heartily, it really isn't a struggle.  Once again we find ourselves with night owls - so we go to bed late and rise late.

The rim on Gayle's back wheel has got worse on the ride here so we decide to catch a bus directly to Tehran so that we can get it fixed before the No Ruz holidays.  Zahra's mum, Behnaz, asks a friend if he can help us find a bike shop in Rasht.  He comes to have a look to see what the problem is and then in the late afternoon returns to take us to a bike shop.  We get caught in the evening rush hour traffic and crawl painfully along.  The bike shop looks good enough, but the only suitable rim looks a bit narrow for our tyres.  So we pass.  Unfortunately our guide has taken on the responsibility to help us and insists on taking us to another bike shop.  This was is not real - it's only selling cheap chinese bikes and it doesn't look like they can service bikes at all.  I am embarrassed when our guide has a long conversation with the guys in the shop and then needs to phone Zahra to translate it all to us.  They have said we can't replace just one rim, we would need to replace the one on the other wheel too.  It's complete codswallop and a shameless attempt to extract more money from unsuspecting punters.  We explain to our kind guide that it really doesn't matter. We will go to Tehran tomorrow and sort it out there.  The episode reminds us how far Iranians will take hospitality.  We know they really want to help us and in some sense we may have disappointed them because we didn't get the bike fixed.

The next morning sees us rising a little earlier and quickly getting our own breakfast.  This is a transgression of Iranian hospitality for sure but we don't want to hang around.  We have to cycle across the city to the bus station and then find a bus to the capital.  So we say our farewells - sad to say goodbye - and set off into the morning traffic.  The ride is slow but we don't get lost and at the bus station we're greeted by a bus tout committed to the redistribution of wealth.  We get a comfy VIP bus and loading the bikes is easy. Before long we are heading over the mountains to Tehran.  The landscape is wonderful and we both wish we were cycling this stretch until we get close to Tehran and the highway turns ugly with trucks and cars all trying to squeeze past each other at speed.

Coming out of the bus station in the west of Tehran we have only now to cycle to the other side of the city centre to find our host, Majid.  The navigation is simple enough as the main roads are laid out in a grid pattern - but the traffic is something else.  After about 10 kilometres of weaving and wending our way we arrive safely.

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