With yesterday’s long ride, we have the opportunity to depart earlier for Dubai. We have been advised to go to Shahid Rajaie Port Complex for the shipping and carnet processing. A taxi swiftly takes us to the port some 25 km from the city past long lines of trucks. The port is extensive, the largest in Iran, we have no idea where to go. Our taxi driver tries, initially in vain, to find where we should go. We finally end up in a large customs hall, after filling in a building entry application form on paper as the dozen of so electronic gates are unused, probably broken. People walk in and out, round each end past the security guards. We enter a large noisy hall filled with people. Briefcases, containing volumes of paperwork, are either in hand or perched on the counter that runs around the room, no visible signs of identification and mostly black. Some even have filing draws under the countertops that occupy the centre of the room to save taking paperwork backwards and forwards to the office.
We are lucky enough to meet Raza, an English speaking customs broker, who kindly offers to take us through the process on obtaining the carnet sign off. A charming gentleman, who we quickly form an affinity with. Not only does he help us here, but offers to take us to town to purchase the ferry tickets. We invite him to join us for lunch at our hotel. He does and then arranges for him and his wife to take us out for a tour of Bandar Abbas that evening. We are so lucky with the people we meet.
We meet Raza and his wife at 7pm and have an interesting tour of both the new and old,city, passing the fish market we plan to visit the next day. Tea and cake round off a great evening.
Reza has arranged an English speaking taxi driver, who turns out to be a retired Iranian navy captain, to take us to the shipping office to get our vehicle tickets. When we tell people we are retired and not working, they laugh. In Iran when you retire it just means you change jobs. Pensions are either small or not paid, so for the majority of people, retirement never happens.
Raza joins us as we purchase the vehicle tickets, or in fact get two copies of a letter in Farsi which says what?…. Raza takes us to the legal fish market, which of course has an illegal fish market operating alongside. We have seen this before in Tehran, legal and illegal operating side by side.
Back to our hotel to avoid the heat of the day, and pack for the day and then a stroll up the new road to the beach, we go past dozens of aluminium boats that once could have just been taken straight to the beach, the new sea wall and four lane highway takes care of that. We walk further to the beach which is filled with people, cars and boats. Locals looking to get fish fresh from the boats?
No not exactly. Rather people coming to load up their cars with smuggled goods! All these so called ‘fishing boats’ travel out to sea to collect goods from ships and bring them back to the beach for onward transportation for sale. We saw clothing, car bonnets and doors, people.
All move with efficiency off the boat, piled high into the backs of ordinary cars, hatchbacks are better as larger packages can be fitted. These cars can be seen around town and between cities, packed solid with goods. What do the authorities do about this? Nothing, we saw the police wander past taking no interest in the proceedings. As one older man, the beach master we think, said to us, “we are the Mafia”.
As the sun started to go down and we continued to video and photograph, a couple of cars with half a dozen young men pulled up, the atmosphere changed and while friendly and wanting us to join them in the cars we both knew it was time to leave. We did so and went safely back to our hotel before dusk. The sixth sense still working well.