Yazd - Esfahan Dt = 9242 Km
When you are riding through the desert and the last bit of shade you saw was about 20kms ago, and it is time to stop for some lunch, desert hospitality is much appreciated. The best thing to do is to get off the bike and look confused. The chances are someone will take pity on you. You will be led (hopefully not too far since they are in a car and you are on a bike, and hills hurt more for you) to a house.
The house will have a very spacious livingroom with rugs covering the floor and either no furniture, or chairs and a table in an alcove off to one side. The rugs will be red with intricate patterns. Plump cushions lean against the walls. There will be a 'shrine' area lit from above by a skylight. The subject of this shrine will be a medieval-looking man with a trimmed beard and a cut on his forehead. His name is Abul Fars Lel Abbas and he was Imam Hussein's half-brother. Hussain was the third Imam. From the pictures it seems that both he and his horse were badly wounded in battle (Lel Abbas was killed alongside Hussein. Pictures of Imams are prohibited, but pictures of their family members are fine). Some reference to Persepolis also may appear somewhere else in the living room. This will be a picture mosaic of beautiful girls offering gifts to King Kurosh of the Achmeinids (aka 400BC), or Kurosh with eagle feathers denoting right thought, right speech and right action. Kurosh, along with the other Archaemenids, was Zoroastrian, and right thought, speech and action is central to Zoroastrian beliefs. In brief, the house will have some reference to both Islamic culture and pre-Islamic Persian culture. The Iranians are proud of both.
For lunch a tablecloth will be laid out on the floor, and dishes of mutton stew, chicken, rice and salad will be placed on the tablecloth, as well as very large round flat bread. A type of cola and orange fizzy drink will be offered. Your host will say 'befame' or 'help yourself'. Fruit - apricot, nectarines, melon - follow the main course, although these are sometimes offered first if your host needs more time to prepare the meal. Tea is always offered at the end of the meal.
A siesta will also be offered after the meal or, if you look like you are going to drop dead from exhaustion, before the meal. A lack of common language will be no impediment, especially if you say that you are Spanish. Spain is popular in Iran - perhaps the Iranians remember the good old days when the Moors occupied Spain. The fact that Spain won the European Cup 2008 is a great way to start any conversation.
Finally, resistance is futile. If you really do not want to experience desert hospitality, you have to keep cycling. Do not rest and do not stop to buy food. Resting and food-buying present friendly Iranians with irresistible opportunities. A confused look precipitates hospitality, but it is not a pre-requisite. We tried to escape desert hospitality one day because we found a pine tree to sit under. We managed to hold out for the time it took for us to eat our sandwiches, and then we were bustled into a nearby house where a second lunch awaited us. We now realise that desert hospitality is an important part of the Iranian experience and we now surrender ourselves to the arduous task of being pampered.