Far out

By LAUREN WOLFE  |  May 4, 2007

But in the fall of 1967 Carol was feeling a little brave, even reckless. She had always had an “anything guys can do, I can do” spirit, and a deceased uncle had recently left her $10,000 — a tremendous load of cash in those days. This was the perfect chance to take a semester off from Bard College, where, despite its notoriously libertine environment, she really wasn’t grooving on academic life. Under her bed, she kept a suitcase filled with pot. She often hitchhiked down Route 9 to New York City, sometimes hanging out in Greenwich Village where she once heard the Lovin’ Spoonful. And now in the warm sun on a ferry headed with her car to Istanbul from the Greek port of Piraeus, Carol made a decision that would alter the course of her trip, if not her life. She would give a lift to a couple of American guys she’d met on the boat named Mike and Chris. “Without any forethought,” they would drive east, in the brand-new Volvo 122S Carol had picked up at the factory in Sweden for $2400.

“We were almost to the Iranian border,” Carol says, “when we got stopped.” Soldiers carrying bayonets pulled their car over on a dirt road and searched them. “They found a little bit of hash,” she says, indicating a smidge with her thumb and forefinger. “We got taken to a military base. I wasn’t scared. The word wasn’t out yet — no one thought there was hash in Turkey. What they really wanted to know was, ‘Was it my car? Whose stuff was it?’ ” She shrugs.

Mike was the son of a prominent Philadelphia lawyer, or so he said. He was also a bit rabid, shooting up vitamin B12 to give himself energy. Between the B12 and his confidence that his father would protect him, Mike was ready to take the blame. He told Carol and Chris that he would claim the hash so they could get out of there. The American Embassy advised the trio to grab their passports and scoot out of Turkey as quickly as possible. That worked for two of them. Mr. B12, however, spent five years in Turkish prisons, suffering broken bones and the filth of what were known to be intensely harsh living conditions. With all of his supposed connections, all Mike’s father had been able to do was get him transferred to a slightly less hideous prison. Carol never saw him again. Chris, however, wound up in India several years later, meeting and then marrying the first wife of Carol’s eventual husband, Tommy.

Eggs, melon, and guns
After leaving Mike in jail in Turkey, Carol and Chris made it to Tehran dusty and tired. They came upon the Intercontinental Hotel, where the staff eyed the travel-worn pair suspiciously. There they ate the first Western meal of their trip, paid for with Carol’s American Express card. (This was one of few places where she could actually use it; the world was relatively new to AmEx, and Visa and MasterCard were still just a gleam in some banker’s eye.)

Mostly, they ate locally — a lot of kebabs and yogurt. They had mutton, chicken, and melon, and otherwise a few seasonal vegetables. Eggs were always a sure bet, Carol remembers; the local lore was that some Westerners had eaten so many eggs their skin turned yellow.

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