Discovering Iran

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

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Flag of Iran  ,
Tuesday, June 19, 2007

We just arrived in Esfahan from Yadz.  This afternoon we walked to a large square near our hotel and saw the Iman Square and Mosque, Lotfallah Mosques and the Ali Qapu Palace within walking distance to our hotel.  Afterwards we walked through the Bazaar and ended up in a rooftop tea house drinking the most lovely tea or 'chai' and smoking hubbly bubbly (flavored tobacco in a water pipe).  We could see the entire square as the sun began to go down and we met lots of other tourists from Australia.  To this point in our trip, it has been quite rare to run into other foreigners.   A  few days ago, we spent a wonderful afternoon, evening and morning at a traditional but restored caravanserai along the old silk route out in the middle of the desert (that is, about half a mile off the highway!)  Kills the mystique a bit...but we still had a fabulous time eating amazing food and dancing the night away with our hosts. The young men did traditional dancing that incorporated the wildest body shaking.  We all got up at one time or another and tried to keep up with them on the dance floor.    After leaving the caravanserai, we drove in our bus for a while and went to see the Zoroastrian Temple of Silence where the Zoroastrians brought their dead and performed their rituals.  Reza, our guide, and a few others, including Meg our Kiwi in her 70's hiked up the hill to the top and had a great view of the town of Yadz.   Iran continues to amaze me.  Fairly uncorrupted by tourism.  Hard to give away a tip...and people on the street keep coming up to ask us if we need any help with anything or in a couple of cases have bought us food.  Once a group of boys bought us ice cream and then another time two women bought us a plate of sweets while we were having chai in a hotel. It was unbelievable!   Iran has been described as a country with the most religious government but the most secular citizenry.  There seems to be quite a bit of truth to this.  Judging from how hip, stylish and secular the younger generation seems, I would imagine that liberalization of the culture will occur gradually.   Putting aside the headscarf and manteau requirements for all women, there is quite a bit of freedom here that I did not expect.  We can talk to our guide about almost anything and people seem excited to interact with us on the street and elsewhere.   And if you all were wondering it is so ^&%*ing HOT here.  The cities seem to shut down in the afternoon for about 3 - 4 hours then come back alive in the evening due to the heat.  One of my tourmates has this amazing crystal filled neck cooler thingy that she is giving me.  I of course told her I'd give her the deed to my house in SF just to get my hands on that thing but she was lovely and said she'd donate it to me!!!  I'm a lucky lucky girl!  
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