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13th March 2011 – back into the mountains and the Tractor fanclub

May 1, 2011

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Last night turned out to be a windy one – and the four pegs that i have remaining are struggling to do a good job of holding my tent tight in such conditions. Yet another series of items to add to the lost list.

We pack and eat breakfast, ready for a nice quiet day off the main road. We head down an arrow straight road and almost miss our turning onto another arrow straight road, which ascends slowly into the mountains. A front is coming in and its getting cold. Not the goddamn cold again! We plod along enjoying the peace and stop in the next village to get some supplies. Within 10 minutes the whole village descends on the shop, and our minor celebrity status is initiated. We stock up on locally made biscuits and tuna, pose for endless photos, and eventually break free to tackle the ascent.

We take shelter under the road as it starts to snow, and eat the bread which soft in the shop and now is reduced to a cripsy wafer. Lavash is no bread, its more like a cracker. Trying to make sandwiches proved difficult in these conditions.

We make the phantom pass that wasnt indicated on the map, dissappointed to be back in the snow despite the overwhelming beauty of the road. Not long now to spring, and to Iranian summer… that kept us going over the top and back down the other side and into the village of Yamchi.

Yet another hoard surrounds us as we enter the shop to pick up some veg for dinner. This time the attention is even more accute, and you can barely move in the shop. The eventual question about football arises, and everyone starts to proclaim their adoration for Team Tractor of Tabriz (yes, Tractor is their real name) someone even whips out a scarf for the photo. Another guy calls their english speaking friend who comes to our rescue – his name is Youssef and he kindly offers us his place for us to stay. We happily accept, and push our bikes 500m down the road and into his front yard.

His house is one huge empty room, covered in carpet with a heater against the wall. We get changed into some Iranian hip-hop houseware and eat with youssef and his Dad and brother, and Youssef fills us in on his village, his life in Tabriz and the impending Now-Ruz festival.

After dinner around 10pm, we’re feeling pretty tired, and youssef jumps up and says we’re going to play football. He dons his kit and tries to get us involved but to no avail. We agree to come and watch, and are bundled into a car which drives us to the local sports centre where all the guys from the village have congregated to play 5 a side. Its a torrid affair – a mixed bunch of skills and characters populate the pitch, and we are entertained by the endless arguing and suspect ball skills of the players. Eventually the whistle is blown and the winner declared (although no-one really knew who won) and celebration juice was handed round. We posed for some more photos as guest spectators, then retire back to Youseff’s to kip by the heater.

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