I made the increasingly familiar trip to the foreigners police station again this morning, this time praying continuously to the collection of angels, saints, prophets, buddhas, bottisatvas, revered ancestors, etc. that have gotten me this far. The first good sign was that my passport didn’t appear to be in the ”waiting to be processed” pile any more. However, after a few minutes it appeared that it wasn’t in any of the other piles either — possibly at the foreign ministry. However, they found it eventually — perhaps it was in the ”people who keep coming back here and bugging us to do our jobs” pile. They asked us to wait — a good sign, and sure enough I was summoned to the window 10 minutes later where they delivered my passport complete with a 1 week visa extension.
We drove back to the hotel, where I hastily packed and loaded everything into El Guapo. The leisure battery had been completely discharged while it waited in Shiraz, but plugging in the battery charger overnight restored everything to working order. We departed the Hotel Khayyam at 10:00 sharp, and entered the mobile lunatic asylum that is Tehran traffic. Without GPS, we made a few minor navigation errors but before 11:00 we were out of the city and on the highway to Tabriz.
Over the next few hours, the traffic steadily grew thinner, and the landscape less urban and more dramatic. At several points, the road approached 2000 metres above sea level, but never quite reached that high. Eventually, we entered the city of Tabriz and spent a good hour circling around trying to locate our hotel, a tiny storefront entrance that I eventually spotted. Then spent another hour trying to figure out how to approach by vehicle, as the main entrance was located on a bus lane. Eventually we found the narrow alley — scarcely 40cm wider than El Guapo — that led to the hotel car park.
On a short pedestrian street nearby, I found more restaurant options than I did in all of Tehran, but had to wait until dusk to eat. Tomorrow, I hope to finally leave Iran.
13 July 2015