Zany Zanjan

The road to Zanjan was more of the same fast and smooth tarmac that we had seen in Iran so far. The scenery was breathtaking with smooth hills that looked like crinkled tissue paper, sandy red colours and even some with a hint of darker stripes running through.

Helen was able to get petrol coming out of Tabriz ok but the station had no diesel until 1pm so we headed on. We then went onto a toll motorway (where we were waved on with no charge). I was not entirely sure if motorbikes are allowed on the motorways because we had seen only one other bike on there but we passed several speed traps without being pulled in.

The bike clicked over 350 miles since it was last filled (in Turkey). I was beginning to get concerned if we would find fuel on this road as we‘d passed nothing in a long time. We came to signs for a fuel stop in 2km as the bike clicked over 380 miles. The light would come on any minute and I was not sure how much that would mean was left. I wondered before what sort of diesel is available in Iran but now was getting increasingly desperate.

We pulled into the fuel stop which was simply petrol being dispensed from a trailer off a tanker lorry which had been installed there for some time. The bike now had 405 miles on and I could no longer see the fuel in the bottom of the tank. The light was still not on but it could not be long now. It was the longest I‘d been on the bike without the light on, presumably because of our slow progress in Turkey meaning better fuel economy.

Now desperate I asked a bystander if there was any ‘Gazhol‘ at the pump. The answer was of course no, but what I did not expect was the guy to then point to his tractor and indicate he was going to give me some of his fuel. Some hurried talking happened between a few other bystanders and an empty zam zam water bottle appeared. I gave the man the hose I still had from emptying the tank in Bergama. Without any fuss I had made several refills of the 1.5 litre bottle and transferred it to the bike. Each time I indicated it was enough he indicated to keep going. After about 6 trips I closed the fuel cap and he still wanted me to fill the bottle to keep spare on the bike.

Job done he washed his hands and refused point blank to accept any money. All I could do was give him one of the little cards with the address of this site on that I have been giving out randomly.

As we went on our way I reflected at how amazing this all was. It made me feel emotional how a complete stranger had gone out of his way to help me and wondered what the response would have been for him in my country.

About 80 miles later we came to a station with diesel. It took a little convincing to get diesel instead of petrol but a crowd of truckers soon formed and pushed buttons for hazard lights, examined the helmet and so on. All friendly but I could have done without the one who pushed the starter with the bike already running. His mates told him off and the bike started up ok again after so it was ok in the end.

We arrived in Zanjan to be greeted by an impromptu hotch potch motorcycle escort. They weaved in amongst us, waving and trying to shake Helens hand. We entered the town and they avoided the one way system by going through the gap between the bollards. “When in Rome“ we thought as we followed suit. In contrast to Tabriz we got to the main square with no drama at all until we stopped and got mobbed by curious and friendly questions “where you from“, “what is your name“. Another friendly local who called himself Freddy led us to a hotel after the one we were aiming for was closed. He‘d been in LA for 5 years and hence spoke English with all the slang so was very easy to get along with.

It appears that the way to get sorted in Iran is to simply turn up somewhere and look confused. Instantly people start tripping over each other to work out what the issue is and try to help.

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