"What's the reason for your visit in Iran", was the only question that I was asked by the border officials.
"I want to explore your country on my bicycle", I replied.
"Okay, thank you for visiting our country!" they said and stamped my visa. "Welcome to Iran!"
I cycled in direction Jolfa alongside the Aras River which forms the border between Armenia and Iran. The river flowed to my right hand side. Directly behind it enthroned some massive mountains of the Caucasus. I felt so relieved that I finally left these mountains behind of me in which I suffered so much. On this side of the border it was even a bit warmer again. Just a bit. At least my water supplies didn't freeze anymore.
The next day I arrived in Marand in the province East Azerbaijan. Some locals took me to a hotel. After I arrived, I chatted with an Iranian friend on Instagram. I met Reyhane during my stay in Istanbul and she invited me to stay with her and her family if I'd come to Tehran.
"I'm in Iran now and will be in Tehran in about one week", I texted her.
"Awesome! We're looking forward to have you as a guest", she replied.
"Thank you so much for the invitation. I really appreciate it! Let's talk about where and when to meet in Tehran later. I'm really hungry and need to get some food. I also really need a shower."
"Sounds good", she said.
About one hour later there was no more Wi-Fi signal in my room. After I waited for a bit and also restarted my phone I asked the receptionist if there was something wrong with the router. He didn't realize yet that the internet was off. He checked the router and said that it should be fine. But still no signal. Then he did some phone calls and after a few minutes he said in broken English: "internet is finished."
"Internet is finished? What's that supposed to mean?" I answered. "There's no such thing that the internet finishes." I thought he was joking.
"No more internet everywhere", he said. "Also no mobile data."
I was puzzled but thought that there's nothing that I could do about it as just contact Reyhane the next day again.
"The price got tripled", she said. "If I was you, I'd leave the country again. The situation is bad. I can't even do my work because I'm a web designer."
Now I understood what the receptionist meant with "internet is finished" a few days earlier.
Since my visa was only valid for one months and Iran is a huge country, I decided to take a bus from Tabriz to Tehran to buy myself some time and use it to explore the places that I was excited about to visit. I used my guest houses land line phone to talk to Reyhane and to get directions where to find her house the day before I left Tabriz.
Tehran is a massive city with a lot of traffic. The local authorities raise smog alert on a regular basis. I got a bit lost in the city center as I cycled from the bus terminal to Reyhane's house. Two guys with a box of pizza came out of a corner restaurant as I stood in the rain at a junction and tried to figure out which way to go. Nima asked if I'd need some help. I showed him the address that I was looking for but he and his friend also didn't know where it was.
"Maybe you better call your friend", he said.
"Yeah, you're right", I replied, "but I don't have an Iranian sim card. So I can't call her."
"Just use my phone", he said and handed me his phone.
"Wait where you're right now", said Reyhane. "I'll come and pick you up with the car."
Nima waited with me the whole time until she arrived and even shared his pizza with me. As we waited he told me that he was about move to Germany next week to get master's degree in aerospace engineering. To my surprise he even spoke German. In the following weeks I learned that German is a quite popular language in Iran and many young well educated and talented people are studying it to fulfill their dream to study, work and live in either Germany or Austria. However, it's extremely difficult to get a visa for the Schengen area as an Iranian citizen. The boundaries are high and the process takes long. Nima was lucky and happy that he got the chance to study in Germany. Good luck my friend! Thank you again for your help on this rainy day! And also thank you for the pizza. :)
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