Road lines are more like abstract paintings for drivers to admire. People simply do not pay any attention to them. What would be a three lane road back home becomes a five lane, or six lane road here. This is an observation quickly made seconds after stepping into a vehicle in Iran.
Following the advice of our Iran Lonely Planet travel guide, Chris and I decided to hire a taxi to take us from a city called Zanjan to an archaeological site called Takht-e-Soleiman for a couple hours and then on to a small city called Bijar.
We found a driver and agreed with his cost of $50 US dollars for the trip. When we came into the mountainous part of the drive our taxi driver started cutting corners. He would drive in the wrong lane on blind corners, on winding mountain roads that were marked with solid double lines. Many huge work trucks drive on the roads. Images of ploughing head-on into one of them around a corner flashed in my mind.
To top it off, there are no seat belts in any vehicles. You may find one end of the belt, but you can be 99% sure the other end won’t be there. The only thing that keeps me calm in these situations is the fact that it’s out of my control. Yes I could stop the taxi and try to find another, but if I did that every time I was scared I’d still be in Canada.
Almost 1-hour after leaving Zanjan I saw a road sign say, “Bijar”. I was puzzled. Unless we had a turn off coming up the taxi driver was not taking us to our destinations in the order we designated.
“Is this taxi going the right way?” I asked Chris.
Chris tapped the driver on the shoulder and tried to ask. The driver and the unidentified passenger sitting in the front seat both started talking in Farsi while making unrecognizable and confusing hand gestures. I picked up something like, “You go there, then there and then back…”
Upon arriving to Bijar the taxi driver kicked us out. He told us we had to go with another driver and pay him $25 US dollars more to get from the site back to Bijar! I was angry and frustrated. The driver had taken us in the wrong direction and in the wrong order costing us $25 more dollars than we had agreed and 2-hours more driving then necessary. From now on we’re going to try to stick to buses.