I wake up to a blue sky and Iím happy that I didnít leave yesterday. I get gas and find my way out of town with a local map I got from the hotel. Just outside town I visit some cuneiform rock carvings and a waterfall next to it.
The rock carvings are very underwhelming but since they were made in three different languages they have Rosetta stone like importances. I buy some very tart fruits from a vendor at the waterfall and give him some coaching in English pronunciation. There are a couple of small ski resorts nearby.
The road zigzags through the mountains
to the little village of Oshtoran, where I explore the mud walled Qalíeh Hamza Khan fortress at the side of the road.
I follow the road to Tyserkan
and I spend some time searching for Jewish prophet Habakkukís tomb. This town has only signs in Farsi and with the help of m local map I can actually find my way. As I walk up to the tomb Iím surrounded by a flash mob of male teenagers. All want to know my name, where Iím from and so on. I donít really get a chance to look at the tomb, let alone take a good picture.
A girl of about 14 or 15 finally walks up to me and apologizes in very good English for the behavior of the boys and asks me if I need any help. I can tell that sheís nervous and it must have taken quite a bit of courage to step in front of the boys and talk to me. So I talk to her for a while and compliment her on her English. With the help of another girl Iíll get a map for my onward travel and one of the boys insists that I take a drawing of the tomb with me. So we find a place on the bike and off I go.
In Nahavand Iím looking for a local biker to show me the way to Haman-e Haji Agha Torab, a former bath house turned museum. The first kid I can stop after a while has no idea but two older guys are up to the challenge. They lead me through narrow alleys and the little 50cc has a hard time with these two. At least we are not racing through traffic. They join me for a tour of the place and it looks like they have never been inside before. The old Haman is a wonderful building with whimsical mannequins standing in for real bather.
I wish it would still be a working Haman. That would have been a treat. The place is secured like Fort Knox with several cameras in each room. My two saviors strike a pose for a picture and lead me out of town.
I ride on to Borujerd, which turns out to be bigger than I thought and I promptly get lost. I stop just before a roundabout to get my bearings and a kid on a bicycle stops next to me. I ask him for the road to Chagalvandi and he motions to follow him. Off he goes like a mad man. Itís quite hot and I feel bad to have him do this for me. At an intersection he asks me if I want some ice cream and I nod. So he guides me to a little shop where I get treated to an ice cream Shiraz style.
Repeated attempts by me to pay are refused and I thank my hosts and the kid leads me to the road to Chagalvandi. I say goodbye and realize he has put me on the main highway to Khorramabad, which I donít want to take. I ask another guy and after a big powwow with some bystanders a guy leads the way with his car. He only leads me farther down the highway before he admits defeat. I wave goodbye, turn around and use the Zumo to work my way to the right road. The road turns out to be a dream. A scenic mountain road with no traffic to speak of. Itís late and I stop for fewer pictures than I should.
I roll into Khorramabad, the capital of the Lorestan province, just as the sun sets and find a hotel with pretty shabby rooms but secure parking. The manager talks my ear off about being a large man, i.e. paying large, but I negotiate the price down to a bearable level.
I walk into town and look for a restaurant. I see a sign in Farsi but canít figure out where the entrance is. I ask a guy and he takes me up with an elevator to the restaurant. It turns out he works there. I order some food with him and he seats me at a table. I watch the families around me. The kids have a blast with a fake Christmas tree which sprinkles fake snow on itself. I sit at my table, wait for my food and drink some water when a bunch of guys take the seats around me without saying a word. Iím surrounded by grim looking guys who donít even acknowledge my existence. This is weird. The guy who brought me up to the restaurant comes over and wants me to follow him. Once we are away from the table he apologizes profusely and seats me on one of the takhts. Iím still wearing my motorcycle boots and I donít want to take them off after riding in them all day. Wouldnít be fair to the other guests. So, I just sit at the edge and get awkward stares from the all women table across. There is something about traveling solo that Iranians donít understand. I get this question a lot and they always ask why and then look very sorry for me. Going out to eat by yourself is equally foreign to them and some restaurants simply ignore you unless you go straight to the counter and order. When my food comes Iíll eat quickly and make my exit.
P.S.: While Iím writing this Iím watching the English news on Iranian TV. The anchor man does a very bad imitation of a CNN anchor man and sounds more like a speech synthesizer. The news selection of course is another story.