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19/03/2011 – Bostanabad to Siyah Chaman – A night with the Red Crescent, dates, dancing and death

May 31, 2011

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The dark tunnel means we don’t wake until late when the sound of a helicopter flying above creates a deafening echo. Continuing on the main road and turning off before the toll signals the start of the motorway, the road is full of cars loaded with holiday baggage heading to family and friends throughout the country, New Years eve tomorrow.

Lunch is on the roadside on a small hill surrounded by lorry tyres. The landscape is beautiful, greys and dull greens dominate and tall trees stand as though they have been fired from the sky into the ground like arrows.

As the light fades the road is in our favour and we sail between soft green hills alongside the river. A group of guys dressed in white overalls with red trim standing outside a rescue tent emblazoned with a red crescent try to flag us down but the road feels too good to stop. We decide 500m down the road to investigate what they want and are instantly offered a place to stay.

The Red Crescent is the Iranian version of the Red Cross, they deal with mostly traffic accidents and some mountain rescue. All the guys in the centre are volunteers except for the burly ambulance driver, who works full time. We cook dinner in their kitchen and i pick up some tips from their resident chef and add some fried dates to the rice, which goes down treat. Only one speaks English but we spend a great night in their television room, eating, conversing in a simple way which is becoming second nature and dancing to some Iranian music. We signed their guestbook and leafed through all the glowing thanks written by other cyclists that had passed through and stayed, a well trodden route it would seem.

The evening took a turn for the gorier side when they took out their video camera full of footage from some of their roadside rescues. Mangled cars, mangled bodies being cut from the wreckages and a man’s head that looked like a cracked egg. Designed to scare us or just to have a laugh it added an interesting digestive to the evening.

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