Hm, visiting 39°N, 48°E was planned for today, right? Well, maybe tomorrow (I’ll stop announcing stuff now).
So I left Namin at maybe half past 11am, after being invited to breakfast (refused) and tea (accepted) by the guy running the hotel. 39°N, 48°E is very close to a road leading to the town of Germi, approx. 100 kilometers to the north. The main road turns south first, towards Ardabil. Clever as I am, I found a shortcut on my maps. So I cycled along on quiet and hilly backroads, to the north, parallel to the Azerbaijani border. Or so I thought.
After maybe 25 kilometers I was stopped by a border guard, off-duty, and his friends. No English was spoken but what I understood was that I was on the wrong road, going towards Azerbaijan. I thought myself cleverer than the locals, of course, and insisted on going on, expecting the road to turn northwards later on. Eventually we’d built up enough misunderstandings that they let me go.
At kilometer 30 I had a look at the GPS and noticed that I was indeed way off of my intended direction and wasn’t very far from the border anymore. A local on his motorcycle offered to escort me back to a road that would get me further north. He led me through a village or two before saying good bye. I’d just have to follow the track to the main road, he said.
Not long thereafter I was stopped by two border guards on a motorcycle, this time on duty and armed. Hrmpf. I hadn’t done anything wrong and they were friendly and all, but it still took an hour and a look into my bags, numerous phone calls to their superiors, thorough passport checks, and a number of apologies from them before they escorted me to the next shop in a village a few kilometers down the road. There the chief ordered a sheet of paper for himself and a snack for me, and wrote down a page-long report, that I had so sign. Then they sent me off with directions on how to get to Germi.
It was late in the afternoon and still 70km to Germi, so I stopped in Razi at a barber’s shop and asked about possibilities for sleeping. There were no official ones, but one of the guys hanging out there invited me to his place.
We had chicken shashlik bbq after nightfall with him and two of his friends, one of which teaches English at a local highschool. Great, friendly guys.
Tomorrow will be another exciting day. I’ll try my luck on visiting another unvisited degree confluence, 39°N, 48°E.