Determined not to have their dreams defined by their conservative government, a new generation of Iranians are hitchhiking and couchsurfing their way to freedom. Even if, for now at least, that freedom can only be found in private.

The air in this tiny bar is thick with smoke. Ershad picks up a fluorescent marker and scrawls on the wall: “We found here because we were lost.”

The mantra captures the essence of his nomadic spirit and directionless journey: Traveling freely, discovering the unknown, finding meaning in every single second of life.

We’re in Ghalat, Iran, a hilly town outside the city of Shiraz which boasts a long history of marijuana cultivation and a famously mellow population. The seven of us, who all met over the internet, arrived here by hitchhiking.