Island Life Magazine Ltd December 2008/January 2009 - Page 57

INTERVIEW to travel no faster than 50mph. Knowing no better, and not having the language to understand the radio news, they assumed the military presence was normal, and they smiled and waved as the soldiers gawped at their vehicle. Then, a text from Carolyn’s brother asked them to re-think their route “due to the political climate”, which alarmed Nick somewhat. “I was anxious to get over the border, and had read an Internet “top tip”, advising travellers not to hand over original documents but give colour photocopies instead. Well the bloke knew instantly it was a copy and went berserk. Blooming internet top tip!” They did get through, and passed, Nick says, from “scary but shambolic Turkey to Iran with its big gates and intimidating picture of the Ayatollah. But then a big bloke in a suit and tie came and shook my hand and welcomed us to Iran. I will sort out currency, visas, tourist map.’ What tickled me was I obviously looked really concerned, because three times he patted me on the leg and said ‘don’t worry my friend, it will be fine.’ “ Indeed despite the severity of the law – they witnessed a public flogging one day – the friendliness of the people was at times extraordinary. Chitty was dangerously low on fuel, which was severely rationed: queues of 50 cars were seen waiting for the next tanker to arrive. “Then a bloke pulled up in a car, shared his sandwich with us and then flagged down a lorry, drained off some fuel and would accept no money. We gave them a Chitty photo card and they were really pleased!” Chitty’s charm frequently helped them evade trouble. Often they didn’t realise life they were on a military road until they came across a bunch of soldiers with a rocket launcher, and a Chitty card and a prompt U-turn saved the day. “Of course,” said Carolyn, “we had no idea at the time that all the military were there because Turkey and Iran were about to go to war. Spies were in the Turkish mountains, it was all about to kick off with Afganistan. T