Suha, one of the protagonists of the book "Women of Sand and Myrrh. A novel "by Hanan al-Shaykh, answers her husband when he asks why returning to the West was suddenly so incredibly urgent: "Nothing's happened. I'm going to explode, that's all." A feeling that I can understand and words that I've often said to myself. I have to get out of here, or I'm going to explode. I can no longer travel to the even more religious eastern part of the country to possibly get a visa for Pakistan in Mashad or Zahedan, although both consulates have already denied me any chance of success by telephone. I am exhausted, my nerves lie bare. Often I think of the words of my aunt who asked in my Patreon what that would change on my journey if I had to get on a plane. I can not give her any reasons, other than cosmetics. "I wanted to travel around the world without a plane.", "I want to understand the slowly changing cultures and maybe learn to understand them a bit better", "the chain would break", and "other Germans have already done it, why should I fail?".
I fail and don't. Just because I will get on a plane doesn't mean that I fly directly to Thailand. My goal is still to travel around the world without an airplane. However, I am exhausted and at the end of what my psyche can handle. I need a long break. Not a five-minute breather but a retreat of at least three weeks. I also don't get on the plane right away, first onto a ship to Dubai. Then there is no overland connection. I travel to a dead end. Sometimes you have to give up. Traveling alone means having to deal with problems alone. These issues are not always significant. Even the small decisions add up. What will I eat today? Where will I sleep? Who will I meet? What do I look at? Do I take a taxi, a bus, or am I walking? I like what I'm eating right now? It's the little decisions that ultimately eat away my strength because my brain never has a break. In Iran, I come to the point where I answer all these questions with "nothing". I do not want to eat anything, see nothing, do nothing, hear nothing, think nothing, write nothing. I need a break. I give up. I also read the blog of another traveller who regrets her trip through Balochistan. This text gives me an alternative narrative, a different perspective. It doesn't describe what one should or shouldn't do, does not talk about abstract dangers, no paternalism, but a statement. For those who are interested, read it here.
Since I'm still in the middle of Iran when I read this blog entry and my visa (which expired in between because I lost track of time, thanks to the different calendar and the rescheduled weekend) I can stay for three more weeks when I reach what resembles a decision. I can't state it yet, it seems to big to just announce it, but it's there. To fill up the rest of my time (also in the hope that magically something would happen that would allow me into Pakistan), I decide to travel with a group of young Iranians from Isfahan to the south. Then I make plans to move further south with J., the Frenchman with whom I originally wanted to travel through Pakistan. Thus, I would be able to see some corners of this country that would have remained locked to me as a single woman and removing the constant harassment of Iranian men with one beat.
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