I have really felt like this is the the real exotic Persia I came to travel around since we arrived in Yazd, think ancient Silk Road, stories about Marco Polo, Caravanserai, desert, heat, nomads, dates, pomegranates, spicey aromas (cinnamon etc, not the Indian curry spices), scarves, Persian carpets, cushions, bazaars, brightly coloured materials although we are mostly surrounded by black chador wearing women. Such a wonderful atmosphere and especially with the local people being so welcoming, friendly and interactive.
Iran is not like Europe where we are constantly rushing around sightseeing, there are plenty of beautiful mosques to visit but it is the whole Persian experience and particularly the Ancient Silk Road which we all learned about at school and which has come alive for me over the past couple of days.
Our last day in Yazd, a beautiful ancient city, I loved the badgirs, narrow kuches (laneways), courtyard rooftop tea houses, water tunnels which hydrate the city, thick mud brick walls and ornate doors which have two door knockers, male and female so that a women answering the door knows by the sound whether to don headscarf.
On the way out of Yazd, we stopped at the Zoroastrian (I am so intrigued with this religion) Fire temple where the fire has been burning for 1100 years and the best part was that we had experienced (by sheer luck) the Fire Temple worship ceremony at Chak Chak (water cave) the day before, so the temple was even more interesting. They believe that the fire is an agent of purity.
We visited another Zoroastrian Tower of Silence (where right up until the 1960’s) they left the bodies at the top of a tower for the birds to remove the flesh before burying.
As usual, Sahara made sure that lunch would be a memorable occasion as she took us to her friends, a Zoroastrian family home in a tiny village in the desert en route to our next destination.
What a lovely family, a young husband and wife, granny (with whom I got on very well, she hugged and kissed me before I left) living in their grandparents 100 year old traditional style home, which they’ve renovated into a tiny guesthouse.
The meal was simple but the company good, we had a couple of hours to kill before heading out to our Caravanserai in the desert for the night, so we all just lounged around in the courtyard and enjoyed the lovely fragrance wafting over from the pomegranate orchard surrounding us, drinking inevitable cups of tea. (I am now a tea drinker, no more cuppacinos for me - actually I could do justice to a good one right now, however, tea it will be). It was incredibly hot as usual but being with the family, headscarves and shoes etc are discarded whilst in their enclosed courtyard.
Finally we headed off into the desert for a long drive to Zein-O-Din (a two day camel ride away from Yazd) to spend the night in a 400 year old circular Caravanserai where Marco Polo and many merchants used to have their stopovers.
What a different experience, literally out in the sprawling desert with nothing around except sand, the beautiful mountain range in the background which have followed us around during this whole trip, the earth silent, clear cloudless skies, blazing sun and plenty of dust. Nomads and shepherds with their goats in the distance.
We stayed in the little rooms virtually unchanged with Persian carpeted raised floors, heavy curtains, thick wooden doors and camel loading trapdoors, so different. Of course no wifi so we all sat and relaxed on cushions in the courtyard and read until the family invited us for dinner and we all slept well on hard wooden beds.
Ahhh Lucille, please send me a photo and news of your trip as I really need to know that there is still life outside of the desert and Iran.
I feel so much a part of this fascinating lifestyle that can’t imagine going back into the ‘other’ world now and sadly our time here is definitely and sadly coming to an end.
The people continue to enthrall, they are so normal, interact with us, friendly and helpful, which always makes a trip so much more enjoyable.
We endured a 6 hour trip in our bus through totally desolate, barren landscaped desert apart from many massive lorries on the road, saw 2 accidents and all agreed that our driver had a micro sleep at one stage when we went off the road unexpectedly, but all arrived safely late afternoon in Esfahan.
We haven’t seen much of Esfahan yet, but what we have seen, it looks great and fun to be back in civilisation. It is known for its tree lined boulevards, Persian gardens and Islamic buildings, picturesque bridges and bazaars where we were able to see the artisans at work. We had a great afternoon exploring this lovely city with it’s UNESCO listed central square which is absolutely buzzing with people and action.
We visited the usual carpet shop in the Bazaar to learn all about the different Persian Carpets and wondered around the Bazaar but the best part was when the sun went down and the locals broke their Ramadan Fast.
There were so many groups of families, friends young and old sitting on beautiful carpets in the square with picnic baskets and all so happy, excited and wanting to talk to our group. The lighting on the Mosque and beautiful buildings as the sun set was stunning.
Great to be able to wander around and not be constantly hassled by touts as it is throughout Europe, just this mass of friendly people wanting to chat to us.
We had dinner, an Iranian speciality, Aash, a thick soup with everything in it but the kitchen sink, followed by Persian ice cream (makes a chang from rice, kebab and bread, I guess)and then walked down to one of the famous bridges.
Really pretty, all lit up and again many people just having fun and enjoying the night out. Although there are so few Western tourists around, there have been a number of Iranian tourists travelling around their fascinating country.
Each town we enter has a number of individual posters of the martyrs from the Iraq/Iranian War who were from that city and often in the mosques too.
Time to get ready for a big day in Esfahan, Sahara has many things to show us today I believe, not to mention the odd Mosque and I am keen to spend time in the Bazaar which looks like a particularly good one and has a great vibe.