A mighty day today, we saw, did and learned soooooo much. This is a fascinating country, so different from anywhere else I’ve ever travelled in. Everything is different, nothing recognisable, no Macca’s, KFC, none of the recognisable Zara etc shops all of which I see all over Europe. The people and culture are so unique and are challenging my expectations and perceived ideas of what I thought I expected.
Difficult for me to describe this nation, Middle Eastern, Asian, Western, modern but also a bit behind the times with squat toilets, dodgy plumbing and so many other contrasts.
I don’t think I know a lot of people to whom this trip would really appeal, although Gavin and Carol McGregor, I do think you should call your travel agent, you guys would appreciate this country.
However, let me get back to our spectacular if not somewhat busy day. After Cameron and I had our early morning walk through the old city alleyways and got lost before sighting the minarets near our guest house, we enjoyed our usual breakfast on the rooftop.
Ali arrived to collect us in a mini bus (Intrepid always use public transport but I don’t think there is much here so we have had mini buses which has been nice and easy)to take us out to Kharanaq, a 1000 year old, deserted, crumbling down mud brick village about 70 kms from Yazd, in the middle of nowhere as usual.
Ali was an excellent guide with good English and explained all about life in the village before it was deserted.
The Mosque, shaking minaret (and I learned that the minaret wasn’t originally used for the Mosque, however more as a beacon for the Caravans travelling up and down the Silk Road), a Caravanserai and he explained how the camels offloaded the goods.
There were beautiful views across the mountains and I have some excellent photographs of the intriguing mud village and a head full of information on life as it was.
There were old Steam Baths in the Hammans (which looked as if they had been whole lot nicer than the boring one I use at Lane Cove), the system and architecture was so interesting, actually translated from Farsi was ‘Hijab Architecture’ as the walls were positioned so that nobody could see in when the ladies had their hijabs and more clothes off.
I also discovered for instance why we have to come downstairs into our traditional mansion where we are staying, was because if somebody came to the door when the family were all sitting in the courtyard (where I am now), they could not see in and it was not necessary for a mad scramble for hijabs by the women.
I could have another whinge about this goddamn irritating hijab, but actualy these patient Iranian women say that the hijab is not important, they have much bigger ‘fish to fry’ at this stage in regaining their rights and independence, getting rid of the hijab can wait, interesting.
When you see the amazing water irrigation system used 2500 odd years ago considering that there weren’t even any engineers in those days, you know that the Iranians are a smart bunch. They dug wells all over the desert and managed to line them up to connect through tunnels and then ensure that in sections the water flowed fast enough to activate the mills but in other areas not too fast so as to wash away the amazing tunnels, but just too much to explain here.
We then headed out to Chak Chak, one of the most important Zoroastrian pilgrimage sites in Iran, we climbed up the mountainside to reach the fire temple (in 30 degree heat) where we were treated to an amazing experience. There was a Zoroastrian ceremony in progress with Indian pilgrims, the fire, holy men etc in this cave in the side of the mountain. Fascinating to watch, colourful and sincere. The cave is called Chak Chak because it means drip drip and there is a constant trickle of holy dripping water inside the temple and a couple of pilgrims standing under the drips with bottles collecting the water.
Interestingly, Iran accept and tolerate all religions, for example there is a synagogue and Jewish community directly behind the main mosque here in Yazd, except The B’hai religion which they don’t accept.
After lunch at an interesting old Caravanserai (I’m intrigued by the information in regard to the Silk Road travellers and Caravanserai information) we visited another Icehouse.
An amazing structure, huge dome with strategically placed walls and ponds to freeze the water in winter, loaded up in slabs in the massive beautifully cold domes so that the people could come and buy ice in summer to keep their meat cool.
Ahh too much information to record, in the village of Meybod we visited the crumbling mud Narin castle, more history and then the Pigeon Tower, a giant roost for the collection of guano used for fertiliser in the old days, another interesting and clever feat.
Ali stopped for ice creams on the way back and although hot, sweaty and a bit tired, Sahara was waiting to take us out to further explore the attractive old city of Yazd.
We had 30 minutes to shower before we went out on a walking (like we hadn’t walked enough already?) tour to the Water Museum, Yazd is famous for its water system as well as its ‘badgirs’ or wind towers which capture the breezes perfectly and send them down into the buildings below, an ancient form of air conditioning.
We visited the Zoorkhaneh sports centre where we were very lucky to see the Bastani or traditional sport of Iran in action, too involved to explain but involves men doing strengthening exercises to the beat of a drum, all very spiritual and fascinating to watch.
We finished the day off with a wander through the Bazaar and a cocktail fruit juice on a lovely relaxing rooftop bar, spread out on the Persian carpets watching the sun go down, the smell of Sheesha surrounding us and the Muezzin howling loudly over the city.
And that’s about enough for today. What great memories I am going to have after this trip, I hope I’ve recorded enough to be able to remember all the detail when I get home and finally read about all our amazing experiences.