Persepolis and the Nomads

Trip Start May 31, 2007
Trip End May 20, 2008

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Flag of Iran  ,
Tuesday, June 12, 2007

We arrived at Persepolis early am on the 11th and spent a few hours walking through the ruins.  Then we visited the rock cut tombs of Nasqt-e-Rostam.  The heat started getting to us today.  The sounds and sights of small birds flying in and out of the niches in the rocks at Persepolis greeted us as we arrived at the ruins.  At the ruins, we ran into a newly married couple, she Iranian, he Australian.  We decided that he would probably become head of business development for Iran should he ever become a citizens because he kept saying "you could make money here" each time he spoke of things he had seen.  It was quite exhausting and his attitude was a bit annoying.  Kindof like, the Iranians need to be shown how to exploit their natural treasures for a profit.
We had lunch at this faux grotto restaurant decorated like a cave with water and animals all around.  Couldn't quite figure out what 'environment' was trying to be created here but it was amusing anyway and cooler!

We returned to town and a few of us decided to visit the tomb of the famous poet, Hafez.  We arrived and there were crowds of people all around including a group of students taking graduation photos.  As the sun set and I was enjoying the changes in the light, a young man started talking with us.  He seemed quite passionate and we learned that he and a group of other young men were on a Shiite pilgrimage from Pakistan.  He discovered that I was American and he began questioning me quite aggressively about U.S. foreign policy and about my personal opinions.  I told him that I did not agree with all of U.S. foreign policy and thought that our violence in Iraq was wrong but that I also believed that the opposition violence was just as wrong...that violence towards others was wrong...period.  Our conversation paused momentarily and then he decided that he wanted a picture with me...ironic after being so vehemently against the U.S.  A love - hate relationship I suppose or fascination with his perceived 'enemy'?  This would be the only time that I encountered visible aggression towards me on my trip to Iran and interestingly, it was from a citizen of one of our allies...

The next morning we packed up and left for our stay with a nomad family in the mountains outside of Shiraz.  We arrived at their site and found many different families, I think many of them related, their nomadic tents situated all around the hills.  Our first stop was up at the local school where many of the younger children study.  When they get older, they have a subsidized education in Shiraz paid for by the government.  The kids were so cute.  Dee led them though a simple english lesson and I wrote the alphabet on their chalkboard.  Then we all went to the river and goofed around, skipping rocks along the water and playing with the kids.  We also found good places to use the 'loo' behind some rocks because there are no actual 'facilities' here.  Found quite a similar situation on the road in Tibet so it wasn't much of a big deal.  You just make do with what is presented to you.  Later on, I rode on a donkey and looked like a fool holding on to the young man's shoulder for dear life as we trotted around.  Meg also rode on a donkey but did so much more professionally that I!

That evening we all sat around in the communal tent and sang songs, watching pretty racy music videos (facilitated by the eldest son of the nomad family we were staying with).  He was quite a modern young man, quite a romantic.  It didn't seem like he was destined to stay in a nomadic life.  Dinner was great and served on a plastic table cloth placed on top of the multiple carpets lining the floor of our tent.  Chai followed and then hubbly bubbly with raw strong tobacco.  Only Sal tried it from our group I think but the nomads smoked quite a bit.  Saraya, the matriarch of the family was busy all evening with the details of dinner.  Later on as we all were starting to wind down a bit, she plopped herself down having just finished here duties and was ready to have some fun!  We revived a bit and the night continued bu soon we all piled into our sleeping bags, tore our headscarfs off while in the privacy of the tent and slept soundly...except for the chorus of dogs, goats and other animals that would erupt at different times of the night! 
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