I’m writing this blog with a slight tremble. Adrenaline is still coursing through my system following the incident two hours ago.
At first, I thought about not telling the folks back home, as I didn’t want to cause undue worry. But, after thinking about it a bit, I reckon the catharsis of documenting the “experience” will do me good. I’d like to include the caveat that this could have happened on the streets of Dublin or Cork, or most likely, Limerick- so here goes.
The last few days in Iran have been great, I spent my first night in a Mosque and was brought dinner by a chipper young lad who’s name I can’t recall. Persian rice is possibly the best rice in the world. Last night I was hosted by Ali at his restaurant, he invited me in after I stopped to help him unload his weekly soft drinks delivery. Iran, I thought, was turning out just great.
On the outskirts of Mashad, things took a sinister turn. I was happily waving and saalaming my way into the city when a motorbike with three “youths” with face masks burned past. I noticed them enough to register their passing, then thought nothing of it. A kilometre down the road and they stopped at a stretch of waste ground.
My spidey sense tingled, and I ignored their hand signals to slow down as I passed instead pushing the pedals a little harder. But they gave chase. Similiar to Si I have covered 1400km since my last proper rest, and there was little power left to out run them. They caught me and pulled me off my bike. When I stood up to fight, I’m not much of a fighter but there was no way I was letting all of my worldly possessions be wheeled away without one, or at least an attempt to hold them off until help arrived.
The blood was up, and I started screaming like a mad man. And tried to wrench my pride and joy from six pairs of greasy mits and wrestle myself back onto the road. Then they produced flick knives and I had to let go. One of the little bastards, and I remember this vividly, had a mullet! He made several lunges at me with his knife while the others attempted to get to grips with my bike. Luckily with the trailer loaded its pretty hard to handle so this bought me time. The sight of of two hoodrats manhandling a fully loaded three wheeler would have been funny had the situation not been so serious.
Its amazing how clearly you can think in such a crisis. With mullet head lunging wildly at me with his knife, with a delirious venom in his eyes, and while yelling and grunting like a crazed baboon trying to look as fearsome as instinct allows. I still managed to do a quick inventory of where exactly my dollars, bank cards, and passport were stowed and commended myself for keeping them in my backpack which was on my back.
That said, there was a scary moment when I realised that passing motorists weren’t stopping. And the Mulleted twat’s lunges were becoming more purposive as a result. He was growing braver as he realised my powerless. When one missed my stomach due to a well timed arching of my back I was considering abandoning all of my possessions, my clothes, camping gear, ipod, KTM etc, and legging it. I know a they’re not worth getting stabbed on the roadside in Mashad for, but its easy to say that when some one’s not trying to take everything that you worked for three years to accrue. On an expedition things become more than just things. Everything I have is essential to get me home. And I wasn’t ready to switch to flight mode without good reason.
Just as I thought I and/or my stuff was f%^ked the little knackers legged it. Scarpering like simpering hyenas. Some work men had heard my roars and were throwing rocks at the little c*&ts. They jumped back on their motorbike and sped off empty handed. A kindly guy on a motorbike stopped and called the police but after half an hour the crowd-and my protection was dwindling so I decided to go fearing that I was still on their turf. He invited me to stay at his house, but I just wanted to get as far away from the scene of the crime as I could.
I spent an hour navigating the manic traffic of Mashad. With my adrenal glands still set to medieval battle mode I attacked the traffic chaos with an aggression that was with hindsight un-wise. Finally making it to Atefah’, our host’s palatial apartment on the right side of the tracks by nightfall.
As the shock subsides, and I replay the events in my mind its hard not to be a bit freaked out. Three guys pulled me off my bike and tried to stab me fer fecks sake. Still, I’m trying to make sense of nearly being knifed, and remind myself that this could have happened anywhere and I shouldn’t let it interfere with my experience in Iran. I don’t want to spend the next 10,000km on edge.
Its important that I don’t let this freak occurrence colour my view of Iran and the world.
Its still a big world out there full of a benevolent 99.9% right?