11. Treasure hunt
Iran; we planned to stay 4 weeks but ended up staying 8. And we could easily add another 4. But at the same time we want to continue our travel and explore new countries. So after celebrating Christmas in Iran, we took the ferry to the Middle East.
Christmas 2019 is a special one. We celebrate Christmas eve with a bunch of overlanders at the beach of Bandar Abbas where we create a 5 cars – camp, add some Christmas decorations and listen to Chris Rea’s Driving home for Christmas. In between we here the songs coming out of the mosque- a nice blended start of Christmas. It’s good to be with some friends we’ve met on the road; in these days family and friends feel far away and are missed.
At Christmas Day we catch a boat to Hormuz island, famous for its hippie style atmosphere. When the people of our homestay find out we celebrate Christmas, they make it a special night for us. “Guests are as lights: they lighten up your home and you have to make sure they will shine even brighter” they say to us. A warm – originally Persian- Christmas thought. We enjoy fresh fish from the grill, home made drinks and listen to WHAM.
The other guests are 3 young guys from Teheran. It’s interesting to have chats with them, and understand more about the impact of the current economic situation. We speak about work possibilities, emigration, differences between men and women and so on. For many Iranian people it’s difficult to find their way in the current situation. While discussing, a guilty feeling rises; just because of the place where we were born we have more opportunities. This is obviously no new information, but in these kind of conversations it gets more concrete. Lots of young Iranian people still live at their parents and cannot find a job. We sold our house and quit our jobs, because we trust that we will manage to find a new place & new jobs once back from travel. The differences could not be bigger, which is a hard reality.
The planning of our visit to Hormuz Island represents our time in Iran- we planned to stay 1 night but end up staying 3. Finally, we need to take a ferry at 6AM in the morning but we cannot leave without breakfast- as Iranian say: “Breakfast is golden, lunch is for friends and dinner you share with your enemies”
Saturday December 28; time to take the ferry to the Emirates! Other travelers warned us upfront; the procedure in the Iranian harbor takes some hours. When we arrive, we see a few blue containers with small offices inside. This is where the treasure hunt for stamps and paperwork starts. First to container one to get a stamp. Then to another container, where someone checks this stamp. Then to the building left, where we need to make visa and passport copies (5 of each, of which we used 1). In the shop next to the copyshop we need to buy a folder to keep all the paperwork together. No, not a blue folder, a green one. 200 meters further, again in a random direction: a building where we need to fill in several forms. In office one the form is checked, in office two we get a stamp and then back to the entrance for a copy. In another building there are 29 desks of which 2 are open. There we receive another stamp.
And so it continuous, in total around 27 steps. Luckily, there are 5 German overlanders who are in exactly the same process so we can share our newly gained knowledge, help each other and most of all laugh about the whole procedure. At 5PM (8 hours after the start) we collected all the apparent necessary stamps: the treasure hunt is over. At 9PM we can board. The emergency door has a sign which says “ In case of emergency, keys in buffet”. Enjoy the ride…
Arriving in the Emirates, we find out that the Emirates customs like treasure hunts as well. Signing papers, stamp collecting, payments; all in different offices in the harbor (of course the office buildings are not clear; it’s opening a container door and hoping that you’ll find a desk). After 6 hours in a rather inefficient, but operated by friendly people process, we reach the end level of this hunt and drive into the Emirates. Let the culture shock begin.
The difference with Iran could not be bigger. Immense high fancy looking buildings, huge yachts and everywhere where you look expensive cars. Supermarkets where we see Western products we’ve missed for a while, perfect road conditions and hotels with an super chique allure. We find a beach in the middle of Dubai where many locals camp. From there, we enjoy a 360 view on Dubai and the Palm island. We decide to celebrate NYE with some of our new German friends, buy some bubbles, watch the immens firework shows and get easily drunk (after 2 months ‘hardly any’ alchohol) . With a huge hangover we cross the boarder to Oman on January 1st. For now: Happy & healthy 2020!