Friday, August 2, 2013

How we didnt get to tabriz

Jolfa, we sleep in a Park. Nata and Ilona have outvoted me again. Nata thinks she found an ally in Ilona, she thinks she sees her as a person similar too her.

But Ilona is a person with countless facets and resources and guessing her personality is risky to say the least; you woukd find it attached to that needle in a haystack. And finding that needle is hard, even for a person as smart and talented as Nata. Actually, you know Ilona best by keeping a distance and that is one thing Nata cannot do very well.

The reason why Ilona agreed with Nata was actually a practical coincidence: we didn't have water. Ilona would prefer sleeping in the nature and hide our stuff as well as possible. But in the desertic Iran we will find water more easily in the city than in some random part of nature.

So we sleep in that park in Jolfa with absolutly no trouble. Trouble starts with the internet. No gmail, no facebook, no twitter, everything is blocked. Some page in farsi advising us to read Quran instead or whatever. Even mu GPS beacon doesn't transmit half of the coordinates it should because of some signal interference over the country. Trouble continues when we want to start hitchhiking.

First, we get controlled by the polce because we are eating ice cream in public. It's ramadan in Iran until the end of the week or so and eating in public is forbidden.

But the biggest problem are taxis. Everyone is a taxi here. And they don't understand no-money. How much money? How much? Tabriz? Tabriz? (2nd biggest city, capital of the west).

I spend five minutes with each car I stop to ask him where is he going (they keep asking: where are YOU going? never saying their destination). At the end of each conversation they just say that it's not possible without money.

Nata says that I am wasting too much time with explanation and that I should just let go the taxis and try the next car. But how can I go faster when it takes 5 minutes to figure out if a car is a taxi or not. And I can't ask "are you a taxi?" because they will all say yes automatically for a lot of different reasons. Because they're really taxis and want money, because they think taxi is a general word for car, because giving a lift for free also counts as taxi in their mind or because they just don't understand my accent and say yes out of politeness.

But how can I say this to Nata when everything is confused in my mind. Nata tells me I'm too stressed, I should calm down.

Yes I'm stressed, we're in Iran in a crowd of screaming taxis, I have the responsibility to get us out of Jolfa and I have the feeling she judges my every move.

We have a letter in Farsi explaining our situation. I show it to drivers and suddenly we got lucky. The magic word Salavaat makes the drivers understand. It was used during some event with the Iraquis and it means something like "for good pray". Something like "take us for free and god will help you". Kind of blackmail, kind of embarassing but when you wake up in Iran with no money and taxis like flies you stop worrying about embarassing.

This driver is called Ali like half of the country. I have no idea if he's a taxi or not. He reacted in a neutral way to all my we-have-no-money attempts. He probably didn't understand most of them, probably he didn't understand any of them. I am actually more afraid of Nata than of having to pay for the ride.

If my communication skills fail with this guy, she'll just tell me "you should have copied my sentences I wrote for the event why didn't you do it" and I will just feel as useless as can be.

Half way it turns out he is an electritian.