Welcome to Iran!
Most of the group (eight people and five vans) are now in Iran. Womble, alas, is now en-route back to Istanbul with a repaired clutch and no passport (as there is no cell phone service, at least for us, in Iran we are unable to text Maureen to be sure of where she is).
As we approached the Iranian border in Turkey the presence of the Turkish army became more apparent and we were once moved from our chosen camp site to a nearby fuel station "for our safety".
We crossed into Iran at the little used Esendere border crossing, after having filled up with fuel in Turkey because of the expected difficulty in obtaining fuel in Iran, particularly near the border. The procedure for leaving Turkey was fairly straightforward but time consuming. After completing the Turkish formalities we drove the 50 metres to the actually border to wait just outside the locked gate to Iran. The only sign of official life on the other side of the gate was one very young soldier. He spoke no English but smiled a lot. Through the gate we could see a large sign that included a picture of USA flag being burnt. There was also a "Welcome to Iran" sign in English.
After 15 minutes the gates were unlocked and we were personally welcomed to Iran by a charming senior immigration official who guided us through the entry procedure with great care and politeness. We were then passed over to an equally helpful customs official who supervised the registration of our Carnets. This took a long time but throughout the procedure we were made to feel welcome. We were even offered cake whilst we waited for our vehicle details to be entered on the computer. The exact translation into Farsi of "motor-home" caused some problems. Not many tourists bring them into Iran, certainly not at this crossing point. There were no charges of any sort to pay.
All five vans were searched, mostly for the presence of alcohol which is prohibited in Iran. Suspicious bottles, of vinegar for example, were examined with care. We had, of course, consumed or given away all our alcohol in Turkey. The total time to enter Iran was about two hours, and the whole process was surprisingly relaxed. We really did feel welcomed into Iran.
Throughout our stay in Iran the ladies are of course conforming to the required dress code. Luckily it is not yet very hot.
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