E #22 | Iran - a short romance | 206th day

Please notice: I’m in India right now. Unfortunately, my laptop broke a few weeks ago. That’s why the translations of my articles takes sooooo long. I’m so sorry for that. In the upcoming weeks I’ll try to get an affordable and appropriate alternative. Well, if you have a second laptop that you want to get rid off, please let me know… =).

And I’m very happy to tell you, that I received the the first donations for my trip!  Great!  Thanks to the donors!  A donation came from a great friend from Germany and an Iranian, who wrote me via internet and never met me person. She donated € 50.  Thanks, so I can cover some of the cost of this online diary.  I am overwhelmed.  My last blog articles were read by>250 people.  That impresses me.  I have assumed that there are maybe 20-30 people who will read it.  I'm glad you like my little censored diary!  I am always open to suggestions and critics.  If you want to know how to support me, maybe the invitation to a cup of coffee, you can contact me or look here.
Thanks to all of you! Now enjoy reading.

From the magical island of Queshm (It’s just impossible for me to pronounce it correct, the first syllable is a mixture of "G", "R" and "Q" and the "m" is only indicated) we went north north-eastwards.  Lennard's visa ran out earlier than mine and so we have forged a common plan as long as we can travel together and as we can both see as much in the short time as possible.  On our 800km ride, we stopped for a short meal in Sirjan to get a meal-to-go, but we couldn’t decline the offer of another customer and ate at his home.  Half a kilo of weed and a bar full of liquor were proudly presented to us and we were asked several times to stay.  But we had to go. 

Yazd - The desert City

In Yazd we met up with the family father and metallurgist Abdolmajid. We met on the Internet and he offered to show us his city.  In the evening we arranged a meet up right on the edge of the old town and he and his daughter led us to a very nice restaurant, which reminded me of Disney's Alladin or 1001 nights..You could even call the service with the push of a button right from your carpet.  We talked for a long time and he asked us to sleep in his house.  However, we did not want to make any trouble this time and preferred to spend the night in the car.  But even then the hospitality of the Iranians does not leave you alone.  Abdolmajid led us to the parking lot of a high-quality hotel at the end of the city and spoke with the park guards that they should tolerate us and beware that nothing happens to us.  And so it was.

The next morning, after our morning breakfast ritual at the rear of the land cruiser Abdolmajid came today with his son to give us an efficient day trip through Yazd.  Yazd is in the midst of the two great deserts of Iran.  Not far from the hottest point of the earth (max. ~ 70 ° C).  It is the oldest town built of sun-dried clay bricks (according to Our Guide) and is one of the largest cities of Iran.  In Iran, there are about as many people as in Germany.  However, centralization is much stronger here.  Alone 18 million Iranians live in the metropolitan area of Tehran.  The majority of the rest is spread over 4-5 more million cities.  But for Yazd this is a big problem.  The desert town had always problems with the water supply.  > 300 years ago, clever engineers have installed an underground water pipeline from the 40 km distant mountains, whose canals pass through the city, cool down the mansions and supply water.  A system for cooling the water was built with large windscreens all over the city.  Impressive performance and beautiful to discover.  In addition to the large Jame Mosque (Friday mosque, on Fridays, a visit of the mosque is obligatory for men), Abdolmajid has shown us some more interesting corners, gardens and buildings.

My personal highlight are the "Towers of Silence" and the story around it.  "Dakhme" is the name of this area.  There are thousands of old buildings built by Zoroastrian, the original religion of the Persians.  It was only through the conquest of the Arabs that Islam was brought to Persia and introduced by force.  This religion is still actively pursued by a few Iranians today, but these are strongly suppressed by the government since the Islamic revolution in 1979 and tolerated only under severe conditions.  Thus, the historical sites are not maintained or supported by the state, too bad.  The German star philosopher Nitzsche, however, has even devoted this belief to a title of one of his books.  And Richard Strauss has written a world-renowned orchestral piece.  Dakhme was a ritual place for the deceased.  The corpses were festively brought into round towers on two hills near the city, where they were accused of feeding the birds.  At the foot of the hills are still the ruins of various houses and - of course - a water reservoir connected to the system with wind catchers.

After our sight-seeing tour, we were invited to eat in Abdolmajid's house.  A beautiful, gigantic house.  Typical for the upper middle class of the Iranians.  The outside of the house was simple and ugly, they invest in the inner life of their houses.  Modern design, technology and large spaces.  It was a pleasure for us to get to know the whole family and we ate a splendid meal together.  Then he offered us to relax in a room and we were allowed to use a private bathroom.  We took a shower and a western toilet brought my eyes to shine ... Yes maybe even a lonely tear of joy has slipped down my cheek.  After our water cans were full again, the family guided us into the desert.  There we enjoyed a beautiful sunset and glared like children in the sand and ran down the dunes.  With great gratitude, we took our leave and headed for Esfahan.  Shortly before the city we parked near a leisure park in a reforestation area and had a pleasantly quiet night.


Scams in Esfahan?

Also in Esfahan we had asked for a local guide in advance, but we were left alone once we got there.  Unconventional for Iranians, but also not too bad.  So we discovered the city on our own.  Also Esfahan was a capital over time and has magnificent buildings to offer.  Particularly famous and beautiful to look at are the old bridges, which lead over the river.  Well ... river?  Because of the climate change and the water supply of the cities of Yazd and Kerman in the east of the country, the riverbed has unfortunately been dried out in the last eight years.  Nevertheless the gigantic bridges are worth a visit and we enjoyed it in the morning sun, walked through the dried out river bed to and exchanged stories with locals.  Afterwards we went to the old town to visit the pearl of the city.  The enormous EmamKohmeni square.  Every ruler of the country has put his name on the square over the centuries.  A huge rectangular area is surrounded by buildings.  These include various monumental buildings such as mosques and palaces.  Now it’s winter and it is much restoration going on and also the large pool on the square is going to be newly tiled. 

After we chatted with a few interested guys on the square, a friendly old Iranian addressed us.  He has lived in Europe for a long time (especially England) and spoke excellent English.  He told us some things about the place and asks us if we want to follow him to a special ceremony.  Of course we are!  But the guys, who saw what we were doing from the distance, warned us to be careful  with this old men.  And they were right.  At first the ceremony was suddenly no longer within walking distance.  So take a taxi ... it was already suspicious, but he wanted to pay the taxi by himself.  Okay, we gave him a chance.  On the trip, he confessed to us that the ceremony cost a little entrance, but there was also something to eat.  It got more suspicious.  Because when we arrived, we should pay the taxi and this almost ten times the usual price.  In a European comparison still cheap, but that was the sign for us the pull line.  There was a loud discussion and we were taken back from the taxi driver to the city center.  And the cab driver tried to rip us off again, we just paid him a reasonable price and went out without further discussion and went away.  Very sad, now this kind of tourist trap in Iran unfortunately already begins.  Esfahan is one of the top destinations for tourists and here professional scammers start their work ... or maybe not?  Perhaps the old man meant well ?!  You do not know ... in any case, the whole thing was way too suspicious to us.

But we got over it quite quickly, and we looked more closely at a palace and the gigantic mosque at EmamKhomeni Square.  Truly magnificent and the mosque is breathtaking.  A gigantic complex that offers an incredible acoustics.  At a point in the center of the large hall one can speak at quite normal loudness and by the reverberation one is heard in the whole area.  Fascinating.  We could hear up to seven echoes when we clapped our hands.  After that, we strolled through the city, the Jame Mosque and the Bazaar, and we drove out of town to meet with the guys from the morning.  They led us in the darkness to the "fire temple" another ruin of the Zoroastrians.  From up here we had a wonderful overview of the city.  For a long time we talked with the guys and we were asked a lot of questions about Europe and got answers about Iran.  Spontaneously one of the boys invited us to his home, on the way we shared an Esfahani specialty for dinner and the guys decided to join us spontaneously to the friends house.  So we drove there, drank tea, debated until late night and slept on the Persian carpet.

So there came the last night together with Lennard in the car.  A pity somehow ... I got used to it and enjoyed to spend the night watching for a sleeping place, the breakfast, the common philosophizing and business plans for Lennard.  We spent two weeks and about 3,500 kilometers together.  Now, however, our ways split.  He makes his way back to Germany and I stayed in Esfahan.  I came to Mozhdes brother Misagh.  Misagh, his girlfriend Sara, Ardalan and his girlfriend as well as a few other mates we hung out with waterpipe and the good arak (homemade liquor) on the carpet and tried to communicate somehow with each other.  And as time went by, things got better and better.  Until we finally sang together and I even made the Persians singing German songs.  I was forced into the only bed in the house and the rest spread over the carpets.

The next morning Sara and her sister took me out for lunch and felt half the circle of friends took care that I got a bus ticket in the premium bus and also arrive in time at the bus station.  Once again the hospitality of these great people overwhelms me.  Not even my cigarettes I could pay by myself ... I can not believe it!  With the VIP (Very Important Passenger) bus, I headed back south.  In 13 hours it went to Bandar Abbas to the Persian Gulf.  Immediately the bus driver was my best friend.  After the usual cartons were distributed with sweets and beverages, he still gave me of his private tea.  Even during the breaks, he always waited politely until I smoked my cigarette.  A great guy!


Bandar Abbas

Besides the marine sights of this harbor city, there is also a large bazaar in Bandar Abbas where various goods, mainly fruits are offered.  Without a lot of effort, the women, masked with metal masks, sit on the floor and offer their goods without unnecessary packing. There is also an old Indian temple.  So I get to the east as my plan was.  The "Bandaris" are their own ethnic group in Iran and have their own culture, which is due to the proximity to the Arabian Peninsula, of course, more Arab.

Here I met Manizeh.  She is a certified Tourguide and showed me, free of charge, her city.  Together we strolled through the fish market and bought fish for lunch.  She's gorgeous!  She knows a lot about her country, has the best contacts and spends her life with her guests to make an extraordinarily interesting stay.  As an event manager, I would choose her as andestination management partner for an event in Iran.  And as a private person I will contact her, of course.  Even for lunch I was with her family and a few hours I could rest in the guest room of her huge house.  She could give me good tips and took care of the days after me and helped me.  If you are traveling to Iran, you should contact her in any case: +98 9177 635 410  hamedi1334@yahoo.com

I was lodged with the paraglider Aria.  Also a great guy.  A semi-professional couchurfer, who already accommodated over 250 guests from all over the world in his apartment.  He has told me much about the history and culture of the former Persia and we had many nice discussions with each other.  But I wanted to use my last days on site again to discover another island.  So I bought two kilos of sautéed pistachios, an Iranian snack, which I will probably miss first, and after a rainy night (the first rain in one year) with storm and thunderstorms, I made my way to the port.


Hormoz

At the ferry I met Inaki from Spain.  On the island we shared a small Tuk-Tuk, a car pulled by a motorbike, which almost acts as a taxi.  Our driver Mohammad (by the way the most common name on the globe) showed us the fascinating places of his small volcanic island.  A geological phenomenon chasing the next.  Whether a salt cave, the different colored mountains, which gain their color splendor through various earths and minerals, crystal fields or fascinating rock formations which have arisen through erosion.  The small island of just a few square kilometers has really much to offer.  For example, an old Portuguese fortress and a wonderful little town.  I decided to stay one night on the island and enjoy the peace and seclusion.  So I also tried to avoid contact with the locals (they would otherwise have invited me to sleep at their place) and booked a bed in one of the island's three hostels.  So I finally found the opportunity to write something here on my blog and to process the experience.

Bandar Lengeh

With a long distance taxi I went to the fishing village Bandar Lengeh.  A shared taxi, which is even faster and priced not different from the bus.  With 140km/h we ran over the desert roads.  The Bandari small town was manageable and since it was weekend, I could neither spend my remaining rials, nor change them.  But I booked a guest house to prepare me mentally for the coming country change.  All in all I spent one month Iran and just paid 3 times for an accommodation.  And one of them was the mountain hut on Mt. Tochal. How cool is that?

Goodbye Iran - خداحافظ

As you can easily see from this and the last two travel reports, I am a big fan of the Iranians.  They are a very friendly, interested and educated people.  Approximately  80% of all school leavers go to college, which leads to a high level of education.  And also the older generation, of course, took advantage of the high education before the Islamic revolution in 1979.  Also, the Iranians compared to the Turks, speaks much better English.  And the proportion of female students is almost half of all students.  Since the revolution, there have been some women's rights movements, which have been able to achieve many small successes over the years.  Of course compared to liberal Europe still conceivably little, but step by step - for Iranian conditions – there are improvements, according to statements of some ladies with whom I could speak to.  Compared to Saudi Arabia, Iran appears to be very friendly to women, as they have at least the right to study, drive and vote.  But one thing is clear: the legal system, the rights, and the Islamic government is too conservative, too religious and their moral to be unacceptable to me.  I love the freedom we enjoy in Germany, which has to be said at this place.

It is quite clear how the mentality of people changes when they leave the public and move in a private environment.  Only an estimated ~ 10% of the Iranians (as I have been told several times) are regimental and conservative religious.  Especially the young and the oldest generation want a change.  Only a few families, just those who could make a profit from the revolution, are happy with the current system.  In the last elections, which accused the ruling government of electoral fraud, numerous demonstrations were forcibly struck down.  However, according to the Iranians, many changes are expected in the next 10-20 years, particularly as regards the high level of education, general dissatisfaction and ever-increasing Western legal sentiment.  More liberalism and more rights.  The regime is beginning to give in in some regards to maintain control.  A great opportunity is offered by tourism, which is now slowly discovering the magnificent country.  Not only economically, but also to improve its image.  There is still a very shifted picture of Iran, which, if you go there and look at it, will be changed in a few days for the better.  Above all, however, tourism is making a difference: the tourists can take the fear of change in Iran with their experiences, other systems, tolerance and liberalism, and show new possibilities.  If the international civilian contact is improved, the government must at some point follow.  Many Iranians, for example, are afraid that the secularization of Islam and the state will limit the lives of their religion.  What, of course, is not the case.

Apart from these political problems, of course, there are great differences of cultural kind. A few of them I think are fantastic!  For example, the regular noon sleep.  Great!  When I spent time with an Iranian family, the after lunch nap was an integral part of the day's routine.  But of course, there is also a lot more to discover.  In addition to film and music, which is also famous and loved in Europe among connoisseurs, the various cultural groups in Iran have a variety of dances, clothes, dishes and rituals to offer.  The best way to do this is to take a look through one of the innumerable friendly Iranians.  Regarding clothing, one notices especially with the ladies, I would like to say a few words.  Clearly, according to the law, the ladies must be cloaked up to the ankle and the hair must be covered.  However, every woman, every ethnic or cultural group, interprets that in her own way to show either resistance, origin, status or tradition.  Thus, many young and modern women wear only a light, fashionably neat cloth around the neck, which covers just a bit of the hair.  Others wear black burkas and black veils, so you can not see one natural spot.  The garments of the ladies in the south shine in all rainbow colors and some ladies (rather older generation) of the Bandaris wear black metal masks.  These metal masks have their origin in the colonial period.  When the Portuguese occupied the Persian Gulf, the men of the Bandaris were so jealous of the Portuguese that they forced their wives to cover their faces with metal masks, as only these could withstand the greedy gaze of the occupiers.  To the covering itself: There are very different motives for this: the majority covers itself only because it is set and the customs police here charge large penalties.  Some are covered because they really like the idea of showing themselves just their husband.  Others cover themselves because they do not know better and follow the tradition that women are supposed to be servants of men.

Germany - Very Good!  Mercedes Benz - Very Good!  Adolf Hitler - Very Good!  The Persians (just like the Arabs) have their problems with Jews and Israel, that’s common knowledge.  But what I had to learn on the ground is the connection between Iran and Nazi Germany.  Hitler's racial research had shown that the Aryan race shared its origin with the Persians.  Of course, he propagated this to his purposes, and Iran was also proud of it.  Well … wrong.  They are still.  Racial doctrine is still very common in Iran and I got it almost daily to hear how much they like Germans and that we all together are Aryans.  This even goes so far that in the 80s the Arian race serves as a name for the country.  Yes, Iran means "Aryan".  Crazy and not good!  This was one thing that annoyed me every day and I have tried to explain to my opponent that I am not interested in this shit, our common origin separated centuries ago and even then, origin doesn’t matter to me.  Very exhausting.

Until the end, I could not even befriend Farsi (= Persian).  It sounds quite cool, and the Iranians now and then have a cheerful singing in theirvoices.  I myself could just put it on 7-10 words and 5-6 dishes.  It’s so hard if you can not read any of the words.  So the font is beautiful, but I could not even recognize the easiest words.  They also make it doubly complicated for me.  Not only do they write on the right-hand side, no, they also have different forms of the same letter depending on whether it is at the beginning, the middle or the end of a word.  That was too much to deal with.  But since the Arabic numbers are also used in Farsi, it is not too difficult for me to read them.  The Arabic numbers are also the origin of our Numbers.  And useful when it comes to money matters.  The currency of Iran is Rial.  1 € corresponds to approximately 42,000 Rial.  So one has to deal with large sums.  The Iranians also disrupt this and therefore the term Toman is generally used.  At the Toman, you simply strike a zero.  1 € thus corresponds to 4.200 Toman.  Sometimes the salesman says only 4. What then 4,000 Toman can equal 40,000 Rial.  Or he says 42, which can correspond to either 42,000 Toman or 4,200 Toman.  So it is very confusing.  But I had the feeling that the Iranians here very honest when they deal with it and if I gave too much, they helped me to find the right amount - in the huge confusion of bills.

One last big highlight, which I would like to tell you is the Persian food.  As you know, there are some Persian restaurants also in Germany.  The food was amazing.  Persian rice is so delicious.  And they also eat it every day at every opportunity.  Large core and saffron.  Incredibly delicious.  Then there are dozens of variants of kebab (meat), delicious eggplant and other great dishes.  Dizi, is a kind of meat soup, in which one again pounds with the mortar to pound the meat.  And I had already told you about KalePache.  Sheep's brain, tongue, eye and head.  Also excellent.  Oh, KalePache is served for breakfast by the way.  I quickly got used to the fact that the Iranian does not use a knife.  At the table they only use spoon and fork.

 

I am already saying goodbye to Iran.  A month is much too short!  Make usage of your visa and invest time here in Iran.  You will not regret it.  My ferry leaves tomorrow at 10 o'clock, over the Persian Gulf into the rich world metropolis Dubai.  Here will be a nice shock waiting for me, I suppose.  If you want, you can read about that soon.  I look forward to it.

 

Greetings, your Schilli 


Funfacts

- Manizeh's son just came out of jail.  He was imprisoned for two nights because he was camping with friends. Single females beyond them. That’s a crime.

- In Bandar Abbas I was regularly at the 5 o'clock cafe.  Very family friendly, delicious food and good for writing.  As a farewell, a little boy took leave of me by kissing my hand ... so sweet.

- The long distance trip by taxi was fun.  I've also invited the driver to coke and snacks. 

- What I do not like about Iran: The ice cream with carrot juice. Veery disgusting!

- The Iranians always recommend you to visit the island of Kish.  This is a free trade zone and here are living many rich Iranians.  It is very “Western” with many magnificent buildings.  Kind of a small Dubai.  Sure, they want to show you this, but I've also saved it.

- Iran you find almost exclusively squatting toilets.  A few more prosperous families also have western toilets.  Hygienically sensible, comfort -10!

 - In Bandar Abbas, when I was waiting for Aria, I looked around the corner among the artisans.  They showed me how iron doors are welded and painted.



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