2 – 1 2.00 pm Tamer Qareh Qozi
2.00 pm and now we are at the junction where a dirt road branches of to the north, towards Tamar Qareh Qozi a small town. it is drizzling. We are waiting for the van. To our north are peculiar green dune like small hills with a small lake in front of them that can not be seen from the main road . To the north lies a vast plane cut in the south eastern direction by a shallow canyon with a river runs running at the bottom. The seen is so primitive that one would not be suppressed if a dinosaur suddenly appeared
The van arrives
The cyclists get busy on their bicycles pumping and making light adjustments. It took the cyclists 45 minutes to get the bicycles ready and then they were of in the most pictures landscape imaginable. It was in a cool 18 degrees afternoon, with no wind but light drizzle that the cyclist set off to Tamer Qareh Qozi 2 km away.
From Tamer Qareh Qozi they had about 47 km of muddy uphill road under light drizzle in front of them. I had no idea about the road conditions beyond Tamer Qareh Qozi. I only know that beyond Tamer Qareh Qozi it was a narrow dirt road going along flat plain for about 20 kilometers and then winding around not so high hills and valleys for another 25 kilometers.
2 – 2 Small village
From tamer Qareh Qozi we entered a long reasonably flat gravel dirt road that was quite firm with vast beautiful spring green wheat fields on both side stretching all the way to the sky . To the north in the very fare distance the Plaines terminated in small green hills.
After travelling some distance in the middle of the green fields we came across a small village with about 20 dispersed houses at the edge of the canyon. The houses were so dispersed that we could see the surrounding planes from every position. Most of the building were made of brick and quite clean but there were few mud buildings mainly for the animals. There was a great rush of the school children when I offered to take a picture of them in spit of the calls from the teacher.
I chatted with an old man on a motorcycle. He invited us to his house near Gachi so. We stopped to get some water but we were told that it was not necessary as there was water at Gachi so.
The torkaman woman wear only scarf’ and no over coat . Their skin is fair or rather pinkish but mostly have a strong Mongol look – square jaws and slanted eyes.
We went to the side of the canyon and were greeted with beautiful view of the green valley,
Magnificent interplay of clouds and light
On the canyon wall we saw a peculiar flower rather like palm of a hand
2 – 3 To Gachi so
We crossed the canyon and into the Plaines beyond and into the first hills.
As we passed the peak of the first hill we came across two lonely mud houses where two torkaman villagers lived.
Beautiful view, with the woman wearing colorful dress.
Some of the cyclist passed us all covered in mud. The hills on both sides were green but they were now dotted with read poppies.
As we passed this set of hills we came across the grand view of valleys and hills stretching all the way to Gachi so. Far away a mini bus was toiling towards us.
All lower parts of the valleys, all the way to Gachi so, was cultivated with wheat creating a darker green band, rather like a snake, at the bottom of the hills.
5.00 pm and still no sign of Gachi so. we had been traveling with average speed of 18 km per hour for the past hour or so. From the small village to Gachi so was only 20 – 25 kilometers on the map but still no village in sight, I was getting worried perhaps we took a wrong turn.
Then I saw a small direction sign saying Saint Khaled Nabi and I know that we were on the right track.
2 – 4 5.30 pm Gachi so – decision to stay
5:30 we finally arrived at Gachi so so. A little village of about 10 brick houses with a telephone post and electricity situated in a narrow valley. It has a single shop and a sort of mechanical repair shop for cars and motorcycles (the main transport vehicle around this place)
We stopped just bellow the village where the road branched to Khaled Nabi. I was really relived that the 18 hour marathon journey was over . During this time we could have gone from Tehran to Abadan at Persian Gulf.
The air was just fine but as the sun started to go down it got colder. We were about 6 km from khaled nabi and still no sign of the cyclers. Some fellow travelers believed that the cyclers had passed us and gone to Khaled Nabi and we should follow . Some one else said that the tour leader had reserved three rooms at Khaled Nabi for us. I suggested that we do nothing until the tour leader, who I thought was behind, would arrive.
The villagers said the last part of the road to Khaled Nabi is steep and muddy and the cares need chains to go through the mud. Others said that Khaled Nabi nights are very cold as it gets a blanketed by mist. as we were talking about these matters two of the cyclers arrived and I asked them to go to Khaled Nabi and see what the road is like. They came back and confirmed that the last part is very muddy.
I asked one of the villagers if anybody had rooms for renting in Gachi so. A few minutes later the telephone operator arrived on a motorcycle. He offered us a one room (large room) house for one night for all of us for 3500 toman (3.5 $). That was excellent but I decided to Waite for the tour leader before finalizing the deal.
The house had an 8 by 4 room with a paraffin burner, a sort of bath at the back with cold water in a small underground tank and a mud veranda – a flat piece of unpaved earth – in front of the room that could be used for pitching tents or grilling meat (kebab) on charcoal fire.
7.00 pm the tour leader arrives with some of the cyclers all covered in mud. Although rooms had been reserved at Khaled Nabi but it was agreed to rent the room at Gachi so. little did we now at the time that the rooms at Khaled Nabi were for pilgrims and naturally had a strict code of conduct. The van also arrives with the rest of the cyclers, who due to tiredness could not have made it in time, huddled in the back.
2 – 5 Night at Gachi so
We all moved to the house, the cyclers went for a cold wash – not by choice. the paraffin burner was lit and most were sitting around the room that was gradually heating up due to the paraffin burner and the body heat of people in it.
Drinking water is very scares at Gachi so they have a special system for collecting rain water falling on the roof
The air out side was just fine, no wind, and clear sky. Every body was busy . I was making a charcoal fire out side for chicken kebab. We bought two small bags of charcoal from the village shop for 2000 toman (2 $). Some were preparing the chicken and some were getting the salad ready. Those back from cold shower were huddling next to the paraffin burner.
The kebab was roasted on the fire and I was helping distribute it hot.
I pitched my 1.5 kilo tent and was doing something inside with my sleeping bag and next thing I remember was being fully clothed inside my sleeping bag somewhat wet from the morning dew? And I had a bad headache??
I had hope to walk the last 6 km to Khaled Nabi early in the morning, say 5 clock, but now with a headache and being little dizzy I decided to continue with the sleep in wet down sleeping bag. Around 8:00 pm others started getting up making breakfast, egg, tomato, sausages and coffee.
2 – 6 from Gachi so to Saint Khaled Nabi
8:30 I had no appetite for food so I decided to walk to Khaled Nabi with a fellow traveler in the narrow valley leading to Khaled Nabi.
It was a magnificent day, blue skies with a few wooly white clouds, green hills full of red poppies and yellow flowers. We walked and talked about history philosophy and took pictures.
About 9:30 nearing the end of the valley I got my first glimpse of one of the shrines of Khaled Nabi at top of a steep mountain / hill.
We still had about 15 or so minutes to get to the foot of Khaled Nabi hill. Two of the cyclers passed us and then they climbed to the ridge of small hill to our right.
We were called by the cyclers on the ridge to clime up and see the magnificent view. We climbed the hill and the view was surely magnificent. Looking to the west was a sea of wave like small green hills stretching all the way to the horizon Green on one side and white on the other.
From top of the ridge we walked towards the Khaled Nabi. At the foot of the khaled nabi hill Three was three interconnected small very old round rooms. I left the round rooms and the road and clamed the steep ridge leading to the shrine I had seen from the distance.
The view to the east was magnificent, genteelly sloping green hills all the way to the horizon.