Being stupid

A motorcycle stops next to me. He starts a conversation with me in Farsi. I understand little of it but I see that he has good intentions. He reads my letter in Farsi about my journey. He offers to help. He wants to pull me for a bit with his motorcycle. Already three days there is a fierce, hot wind. It’s like an oven here. I decide to accept his offer because I could use some nice company. This guy seems ok.

We stop. My arm is tired. We tie straps around my bike and his motorcycle and drive on. We not go fast. Not at all. We drive at most 20-25 km/h. In between the cities Damghan and Sharud in Iran. After an hour driving like this we make a stop again. The boy seems to be my age. He asks my phone number. Nothing strange, this happens regularly in welcoming Iran. People want to take care of me. A few minutes later we continue our journey together towards Sharud.

I am alone. I’m vulnerable. I cycle in areas where there is relatively nothing. I live by faith. I have to, otherwise this whole journey would be a very lonely one for me. I am open and accessible. I want to learn. I try to understand the Iranian culture more and more. I will never understand everything of it. I grew up very differently, some things just remain uncommon for me.

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Many people approach me. In towns or along the way. Curious, asking about my trip. Where I come from, where I am going. Some help me with food and drinks. Some remain staring in disbelieving at my bike. I am grateful for this culture. I enjoy it. People make me happy and I see that they are happy with my presence.

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The boy on the bike asks in the Farsi language what my plan is for the coming days. It seems cozy. I forget that I am vulnerable. I trust this guy. He cares for me, though I had not asked for it. Another half hour later we stop again. He loose the straps and tell me that a bit further he need to take an exit. We are equally sure that the phone numbers are exchanged good and he asks me if he can make a call with my phone. I trust him. I’m already two hours with him. His motorcycle is going at highest 25 km/h. What can he do?

We continue while he make a call with my phone. There is nothing wrong and I hang in there fixed on his shoulder. It’s called being stupid. I’m starting to suspect something and ask less friendly that I want my phone back. Before I know it he pulls his gas and disappears very fast in the horizon. The bike was not going 20-25 km/h. The bike was going fast. The boy who built a friendly relationship with me for the last two hours did it just for one thing, for my phone. He just drove away with it.

I scream. I can not believe how a human could be so cold. I try to cycle after him but can’t keep up with him. I yell to car drivers: “Stop him! Stop him!! My phone!!” Probably no one understands me. I’m wild. I’m going crazy. Not again? In this way? Damn, my phone!

With a sore throat, half an hour later I start the feel a bit normal again. All I had with me. Everything. Photos of family. Information. Addresses. Digital books. An almost finished video update. It is all gone. I can’t believe it. Again I’m sad. How stupid can I be to let this happen to me. I don’t even know if I was stupid. It felt like a friendship. How could he do this? I don’t know it anymore.

I suddenly remember something. Didn’t I made a movie of his license plate? I’ve actually made a movie when I was behind him. Maybe I can see his license plate on the video? After 20 minutes I got a hitchhike to Sharud. I dive into an internet cafe. Take pictures of the short video where his license plate is visible. And yes! I can read it. Figures in Farsi are not strange to me anymore. I ask the owner where the police station is. It is Muhammad. We’re going to look after the thief. Muhammad drive me to the police station. After a check it turns out to be a different region. We need to go to the the police station in Damghan. Damghan is 50 kilometers back. Muhammad drives me to there.

We arrive. The police station is closed for phone stealing problems. It’s weekend. All for nothing. Or maybe not? Muhammad calls a friend for help. We drive to another police station in Damghan. Here prisoners walking around with a chain around their legs and a padlock on it. Chained together. Can’t believe my eyes. I don’t know what I see.

A police officer is questioning me and sends us away with a note with the name of the motorcycle dealer mentioned. He also stated that it will be very difficult to find the thief and my phone. I can better let it go, is the advice. I can’t believe it. There is nothing happening. It’s a new experience that I need to process. I have to let it go. I have to learn from it.

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Learn? Learning to trust less? No, never.

I’m ready to go into the big micro wave called Turkmenistan. A five day transit visa is in my passport. From July 9 to July 13, I go along with Ritso (the guy on clogs) cycling these 480 kilometers. My total cash budget from what is left is 35 dollars. I hope I will find an ATM in the desert.

Ps. Because my phone was stolen including an almost completed video update, it will take some time before I can update social media myself and publish a new video again. I hope I can soon purchase a new smartphone. Thanks to my girlfriend Lisa who is doing a bit social media right now. And thanks a lot to everyone for all the help and support I get!