In Shiraz - the weed capital of the Middle East - I find myself couch-surfing with a friend of a friend. Sina, like me, has travelled a lot. A member of Iran's National Hiking team, she knows the lie of the land and suggests that I head to Balochistan. People in Iran don't visit Balochistan; it has a bad reputation and is considered dangerous. Most significantly, Baloch people are Sunni while Persians are Shea. Despite this, Sina promises that it's safe and would make a great adventure. I was looking for an adventure.
Now in Chabahar, an important port and the capital of Balochistan's Province, I am couch-surfing again, this time with Enriq, a Catalan traveller, and Mobin, a Baloch tour guide. With several CDs of Baloch and Urdu music at the ready, we head out in our rental car to explore. The Martian mountains, mango plantations, Darak desert and the warm coastal towns of south Iran are all on the agenda. Over the next 15 days, our road trip takes us to the border towns of Pakistan, the three islands of Iran (Queshm, Hengam, Hormuz) and then through Lar as we head north.
Sipping milky tea as we welcome the sunrise in these semi-deserted surrounds, Mobin's departure brings a sense of ending. While all journeys, be they literal or figurative, come to a natural end, ours didn't feel over quite yet.
And so, Enriq and I decided to head to Kurdistan…