Iran was definitely a place of surprises! “Hello, how are you? Where are you from?” Iranians everywhere stopped us in the street to chat, or waved from their cars or tooted their horns as we crossed the street. A favourite pastime is to picnic anywhere; in the luscious gardens, next to archaeological sites or along a desolate road to nowhere. And they were more than happy to share their home cooked meals with us.
After some relaxing time we move amongst the crowds to explore the labyrinth of corridors in the bazaars and catch a glimpse of local foods and handicrafts.
And lead by our faithful guide we begin the first of our many mosque visits. Geometric and floral decorations are spectacular, as are the stained glass windows which pour a magical light inside as well as help to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
From the smallest rural mosque tended by nomads to the glorious Sanctuary Of Fatimah in Qom where the Khomeini revolution began, each had it’s own charm and splendour.
A dazzling wealth of gold and silver blind us in the sun, a vivid contrast to the simplicity of the rural mosques and local lifestyle, and we stand out like sore thumbs, struggling to keep our chador from slipping off as we try to photograph the massive Sanctuary.
Some curious contemporary facts shared by our guide:
1 in 3 marriages end in divorce. Most are not practicing Muslims. The Supreme leader wants to double the population so abortion and contraception are only available illegally. Most have a parabola to see outside news, which every so often is confiscated. There is an active black market to access alcohol And apps to access facebook and twitter which are publicly blocked.
There is still so much more to tell about Iran – of amazing Archeological sites, hiking in the desert and to the Castle of the young maidens, the gigantic square in Esfahan, the caravanserai……but that will have to be in another post!