Trip Start Mar 21, 2009
14Trip End Apr 29, 2009
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Yazd is known as a desert city, a UNESCO heritage site, and we're staying in the old part of the city in a very charming old hotel that has a big interior courtyard with a fountain, and the rooms surround the courtyard. The old city is a maze of small alleys made of dried mud and straw, and you can just wander around for hours exploring all the nooks and crannies. Yazd is also where most of the Zoroastrians live, a people whose religion pre-dates Islam. We've seen lots of ancient remains of their fire temples and burial sites, high on the top of mountains where they took their dead to be eaten by vultures (nice) since they believe that putting a dead body in the ground polluted the earth.
The other thing that Yazd is known for is their "wind catchers", a chimney-like attachment to the houses that has huge slats which "catch" the wind and then force the drafts down into the homes where it is cooled off over a pool of water. Think of it as natural air conditioning, which is very important since in summer it can get up to 120F here. I can't imagine being covered head to toe in black when it's that hot outside so we timed our trip just perfectly as it's been in the upper 60's for the past few days which is just right.
Best of all though is that we have a new guide in Yazd named Sapideh, a very cool single woman in her early 30's and she's fanatastic. Very laid back and it's been great to get her perspective on life for women in Iran. We've had a lot of fun coming up with ideas for how she can grow her business by developing tours geared to women - i.e., Persian Spa Day. Seriously - she's going to take us to a place in Esfahan (our next stop) where we're going to get beauty treatments Iranian-style. She's going to be with us for the rest of the trip so we're thrilled as you can imagine.
I chatted today with a guy fromYazd who is studying for his master's degree in Electrical Engineering. He was really interesting, and had just gotten back from a family pilgrimage to Iraq since there are some holy Islam sites there, and he was telling us about how Iraq compares to Iran (not good - minimal electrcity, poor sanitation, etc.). Then, out of nowhere, he says "By the way, did Obama ever get a dog for his girls"? Hysterical, and he says that this was a headline that was all over the news in Iran a few months ago. Generally speaking everyone that we've talked to wants the US and Iran to get back on better footing and are very happy that Obama is in office. Though they've all said that he's saying the right things but they want to see what he actually does. Most of them also think that Ahmadinejad (their conservative president) will win re-election in May because he appeals to the poor, uneducated majority. Obama is going to have his work cut out for him. None of them that I talked with think that Israel should be wiped off the map as Ahmadinejad was widely quoted as saying, and they also point out that Iran has the highest population of Jews in the Middle East outside of Israel. Very interesting.
Tomorrow we're off for a 4-hour drive to Esfahan - until next time!