Neyshabur to Mashhad

My plan was originally to walk from Neyshabour over the mountains towards Mashhad. My online map is showing me a walking way over a 3.555m mountain, but there seems to be no marked way and a 40km distance incl. the up and down climing in one day. If you ask someone that you want to cross the mountain range at this point or somewhere close by, they are always a bit irritated…  and don’t know what to say. People advise you always to walk along the roads, means in this case around the whole mountain range, because Mashhad is on the other side. I decide to leave the city and walk towards east for one day. In my map and later on the landscape, I see, there is another valley Kharv-a Bala (about 2 days away). So maybe there is another way over the mountains. I wish for myself to find someone who could give me some advise. The energy has not left, means the feeling I have about Neyshabur and I ask myself if something in the history happened here what is not healed. But I can’t find out. I am leaving the city through the old road to Mashhad, so I can avoid again the highway. I have just 15 to 18 km to go so I take a lot of rest here and there. At 4pm I found a really nice tree and grass area, I have a nap and finally I see a onion flower so beautiful. The evening light makes her shining even more. I want to make a foto of her, but the wind is moving her around a lot. It takes more than 15 min to make some useful picture. Around this time, I guess a little bit before my rest place, I felt, now the weird city energy is gone. Everything feels ’normal‘ again. I asked myself, what would I have done, if that would happen in Afghanistan to me. Would I have left the city earlier, because I would guess there is something not ok actually?

Anyway. It didnt take long and I reached a little village Mamory. A men seems to wait for me.  Mehdi. He shaked my hand. Salam. Hubi? How are you? Cheli huub. Good. But he did not let his hand go from mine. He pulls me gentle into his property. A garden with maybe 40 to 50 trees. There we are sitting. He said: I guess you want something now. But I was fine. Everything was offered I refused, what is in general not very polite. But tea I did not want. I don’t like black tea so much. I always ask for hot water. And the ice cream I did not want too, because I do not eat sugar. He kind of gave advise to all the women being there, and I was asking myself, where are all this women from? After he found out, that I am vegetarian he suggested to drive into Nayshabur to shop a bit and also see a friend. My backpack he moved into his house and I went just with my telefon. I always trust the people, but here I ask myself, would I find the house again?, what would I do, if this happens to me in Afghanistan?. Put a little position marker in my online map. And the house has a very unique looking at one window. It lookes like a big smily. They had to put some wire’s to both sides of the window in a form of a happy face. So this I would easily find again. Haha back to Neyshabur. All the days effort back in 3 quarters. We picked up Ismail, a friend of him. Neyshabour is the city in Iran, where you get the best Turquoise from the close mountains. And Ibrahim, while Mehdi went shopping, showed me two very nice workshop. In the first they already have the polished stones, ready to sell or do rings or so from it. He even bought me a little turquoise. Then we went to a polish workshop. And a was allowed to polish a stone. That was really exiting. Later he showed me another workshop for making sweets. And we went to a earlier renovated caravansaray, which houses now little shops for tourists. What a nice welcoming to new friends. We had a wonderful vegetarian warm dinner. Still could not find out, what was maybe once happens in Neyshabur, but our visit reconciled me a bit. And…. Mehdi was the one giving me more information about crossing the mountain. He did it once in his 20th from Darud and gave me some information. First he wanted to worry. I told him that worrying never helps. I am happy for any kind of caretaking or warning, but worrying is not helping. At the next day he gave me so much food. I asked myself ‚what is that all for‘? Maybe two days. And I asked Mehdi also about Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad, if he has a personal story with it. After a while he said, that I am the actual last story. He considered me as the guest of Imam Reza. His, Mehdi’s, invitation to his house was actually Imam Rezas invitation he said.

With my sensitive parallels to Afghanistan I decided : There is no other way than trusting the people…… I would make myself crazy not to do so….

My way today was to go to Darud. 22km. First flat area, then up towards the valley town. Beautiful when the water runs down the river. Kind of touristy place. I was keen to find out how high the mountains are…. no info…  I slept at a kind of outside cafe. The very friendly owners Mashallah and Sadad were helping me with blankets and some food. I guess the night place was on something like 1400 to 1500m. They had no panic knowing that I would cross the mountain. And anyway, if something happens or I can’t find the way, I can come back. Two days before I had found in the net, that even the 3.555m peak is easy to reach. No climing. So this pass would be anyway a bit lower. They also gave me a lot of food, so I had really to carry something. I kind of easy find the way. At one point I was not sure. I had a little map from Mehdi and Mashallah gestured when leaving, the left way, but was it his path fork? I waited half an hour,  no-one showed up. But there was a little hut on the right way. So I went asking. Yes the left path was ment. Partly it was really going up. I was sweating. My first real mountain this year. And I had to eat some of the fruits. To heavy and I needed energy. There was another path fork where I wasn’t sure. I guessed that both went over the pass but came out to different valleys on the other side. There, even here some motorbike tracks?! After eating something more I made my decision. Wonderful mountain areas. On the north side of the mountains was some more snow left. I guessed to be at a level of 2.500 to 2.800m. It was a fantastic sunny day, so I had the best view I could get for finding the way down in the valley. But first I enjoyed being up there. I got even some snow to eat, what I love so much. An hour later some sport krad drivers passed by. But there where some snowy areas, where I would have been scared to drive there. But hey managed. End of April. I think we were some of the first this year to cross.

In the valley I was overwhelmed by blooming cherry trees. At one place I was amazed by a cherry plantation owner, how beautifully artistically he has designed the irrigation system by what nature offers him, slate rocks. I was wowed. Would have loved to meet this guy, but he wasn’t to find. On the north side even more water was running down the hills and cars and people had always to cross. Sometimes I was not sure if cars or me could manage, quite deep. But all went fine. The night I slept outside. Made a fire.

The next day I had surprisingly not to continue walking through valleys. Instead the way was built on the to of the mountain streamers. There was one magical moment, when a saw violett trees in light green valleys. I got some offers to take a car…… But….. you know…. I am walking. And the way was much longer than I thought. Food was just enough. Surprisingly. Thanks dear hosts.

People reacted different. So often they ask me in Farsi for the way. Also they looked different. Structure of the faces had changed.

I was really done. Since Sabzevar no more break. I was looking forward to have a good, really good rest in Mashhad.

The next night hi stayed with Mohammad and his wife Samane and 1 year old Jazanneh. I was so sorry for Semana, because of me she had to cover not only get hair and breast, she also wore anothe body cape the whole night, what women do normally only outside the house. A bit conserative family. Hard to cook and take care of a baby with aĺl that.

It’s 22km into Mashhad center on the road or 26km through the hills and on smaller ways. My online map found this really good route. Mashhad has 3.5 million people. The city is really big. I went the calmer way. Arriving in the center I had done 81km in 3days. Puh. … And 859 km from Tehran in just 46 days. Puh. …

I am 7 days early by surprise.

4 offers to stay disappeared in he days before arriving. And I had no power to ask somewhere around. So I went in the first hotel – a bit overpriced – negotiated a bit – and booked a room for 2 nights.


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