a road not taken

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In the morning, I had to say goodbye two times. First to Rasul (who still didn’t smile for photos):

Rasul

And then to Mohsen (who had to go back to the city):

Mohsen

Then I continued down the winding mountain roads:

winding mountain road

Sometimes I saw fields of poppy flowers:

poppy flowers

And sometimes I saw roads that weren’t mine to walk, and I felt sad that I could not walk them all:

road not taken

Mine was this one, though, and it wasn’t too bad, either:

road down the mountain

Sadly, it led back down to the highway, the grey tape with its cars and thundering trucks:

back on the highway

I found shelter from the sun and the noise in a pavilion that had been erected for people who wanted to pray:

prayer place next to the highway

Walking along the highway didn’t have much of the beauty and the quiet grandeur of the lonely mountain road. It was dry, loud, and often dangerous:

dry road

But one time I ran into a retiree who was riding his bicycle. He had brought a tiny elephant with him, a gift from his daughter, who was also a cyclist, he told me:

cyclist with elephant

Alas, I failed to remember either of their names.

There was another road that was not going to be mine:

another road not taken

At the bottom of a long downhill slope, a group of taxi drivers were very amused by my sudden appearance:

taxi drivers

They told me it was only about 5km to Ashkhaneh, the little town where I was going to spend the night in a hotel. And they said it would be an easy walk.

They were right:

green valley

The land had turned into a lush dark green, and again I found myself looking down a road that I was not going to take:

road not taken into the green

Then I arrived in Ashkhaneh:

Ashkhaneh

There were a lot of shops, restaurants, and car workshops along the road through Ashkhaneh:

roadside shop in Ashkhaneh

I walked past a little shoe stand:

shoes for sale

And then I found the hotel where I was going to rest for a day or two:

hotel in Ashkhaneh

I was still sulking about the roads that I hadn’t walked on today, until I realized that this was a big part of what The Longest Way was all about. Sure, The Longest Way was a way (and a road) of its own.

But it was also a road not taken.

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