Kerman is a wonderful Experience
May 14, 2015
Our “local” bus from Shiraz to Kerman was actually quite luxurious and spacious…far more comfortable than a Plane. I think my only complaint was no bathroom…But at least I was able to catch up a bit on writing even if the roads challenged my already insufficient typing skills.
We are definitely in a desert region…reminds me a bit of the mountains driving from Johannesburg down to St. Lucia in South Africa…at points it looked a little like New Mexico…but very, very dry…I have a feeling that after 5 weeks of desert countries I will be happy for the typical Florida rainy season.
Throughout the desert, you will find bits and pieces of Agriculture but it is sparse so far.
After awhile, the long journey allowed me to finally delve into one of the books I brought on my kindle “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society”…What a perfect read for this trip.
Once we finally arrived in Kerman, I was once again reminded that a backpack might not be the easiest luggage to work with moving on and off local transport…or maybe it’s just mine is so heavy…It certainly has made me think twice before I purchase anything. You would think I would have this down…but this damn technology and meds and gifts for locals are what weigh it down…it is certainly NOT the 4 outfits I have been re-wearing all the time. (-:
We hoofed to find the Taxis and once there Fatemeh did her thing…A group of cabbies surrounded us and started bantering back and forth, as happens here…but I could tell the tone was different this time…and Fatemeh was getting quite worked up…Then we were hearded off to one Taxi and as usual our luggage was not going to fit in their very tiny trunks…which means they pile it in, leave the trunk door open and hope for the best…Pam does not like this method and makes it very clear…Fatemeh once again engages these guys…the arguments gets so heated with about 10 men surrounding us that a police officer comes over…he stands at a distance and watches as Fatemeh lights into these guys…the officer seems intimidated by her and goes back to his motorbike to just watch…hmmmm…If there is any question about women not having any power here, that moment proved that theory quite wrong…BTW Fatemeh is a little woman and these were not little men! She convinced them to tie down the trunk and once in the cab I asked what they were saying…she said they were angry that she was taking the foreigners side on the trunk issue(we asked to have it tied down)…They said that she was Iranian and should remember that…Of course the one detail I left out is that at some point Pam yelled at the men…they, of course, had no idea what she said but could certainly determine it wasn’t to say “Hi”…Fatemeh informed us these were Religious AND uneducated men and sometimes that created issues.
Once at the hotel, we chilled a bit…and as usual struggled to try to find working internet…this is a foreigners nightmare here…it is so very hard…and slow…
The 3 of us met in the lobby for tea before dinner and then headed to the hotel restaurant for dinner.
There was a lovely German man eating alone so he beckoned us to join him…He owned a Medical Device company near Munich and had decided to take 3 months off and Motorbike from Germany through Europe into Slovenia and Croatia…Turkey into Iran and on to 7-8 other nations…He told a harrowing story of a 1:30am knock on his hotel room door just after he crossed the Turkish border into Iran…He said the police were there and asked him to come into the Lobby and proceeded to question his reasons for being here…Once they were satisfied with his answers they let him go back to bed…He thinks it’s because he had just crossed the Turkish border.
Klaus and I quite enjoyed our dinner conversation…and I must admit it was nice to have another person to chat with. I am so used to traveling solo and meeting people that going on a tour is quite hard for me…it’s very structured and I tend to travel in a very unstructured manner…
Gary & Pam left after dinner and Klaus and I enjoyed some nice Iranian tea and cookies …Klaus then went to get his tablet to show me his pictures of Turkey. We sat and drank tea as he regaled me of his travels…It makes me a bit sad that I did another tour for Turkey…since the pictures he had were of the kinds of places I am drawn to but are never on the tourist itineraries…I guess I will have to return on my own…
Klaus and I enjoyed a lovely goodbye breakfast with him giving me some tips on places to see in Turkey…and a visit to see his bike…and then we said our goodbyes and exchanged emails…my favorite part of traveling is all the really fascinating people you meet…and many times keep in contact with. I have seen more Germans here than any other tourist group…and several Chinese…a few Slovenes…and one or 2 Russians…The owner of our hotel said he hosted a lunch for 10 Americans the day before we arrived…but he said Americans prefer the 5 star hotels to the smaller ones…Well, I can tell you, I am just fine with the 2 or 3 star ones because it’s in those little ones that you meet others…although, don’t get me wrong…a nice 5 star would be fun too (-;
Well our day in Kerman and the surrounding areas was chalk full of adventure…First let me say I am definitely in the desert…and it really makes me appreciate water…If I complain about summer rains, remind me of the desert!
We shifted our plans today so we could do a late afternoon picnic in the mountains at a waterfall…First off, we did a visit to a holy mosque…Fatemeh spent some time answering our many questions about Islam…She even demonstrated praying methods…Funny when you see it on TV, it sometimes feels intimidating…but she broke it all down and even explained the difference in rituals between the Shite & Sunnis…Ironically, their differences are like those of the Catholic and Protestant Churches…Basic foundations…for example the Shites believe in 12 Imans with Ali being the 3rd..but the Sunni believe in 11 with Ali being the 4th…That sounds minor but it is like the Pope in Catholicism & no Pope in other Christian faiths… and it also felt like the difference between Pope & Saints in the Catholic Church and Straight talking to God in the Protestant Churches…I hope I haven’t offended anyone but that seems to be what Gary, Pam and I agreed made a comparable comparison, even if very loosely… There are many cleaning rituals that reminded me of what is done in the Orthodox Jewish Religion…In Iran they aren’t strict to the 5 times praying a day…As a matter of fact I have heard very few calls to Prayer…I heard more in Southern Thailand…Here they seem to combine a few Prayer obligations and do 1 in the AM, 1 at Lunch and 1 in the evening…I am still learning but I can tell you that from what I am learning, it is completely misinterpreted by us…and misused by the crazies…
We went to something called a Hamam(bad spelling) They are medicinal baths…This one we went to was hundreds of years old and set up as a museum…one of the displays was that of a man who was on the floor and another man had created scratches on his back to draw blood and put a cylinder like cup over the scratches and somehow sucked(without actually getting the blood in him) the blood…Maybe like Cupping..It is a serious blood cleansing ritual that is still done in many parts of the world…and Fatemeh says that when she is run down, it really works…It’s called Hejamat But I think I will stick to Acupuncture!
Well after that fun filled lesson, we were off to the bazaar for a little bargaining…As has happened throughout this journey, we walk in and people begin to stare…and then smile and say “Hello!” Without us saying anything they know we speak English BUT don’t know where we are from…many like to play the guessing game…BUT as soon as they hear America…man, you would think we were rock stars…Our egos are out of control…Today at the Bazaar something really interesting did happen…A Revolutionary Guard Officer(Commander-probably in his 50’s) came up to Fatemeh and said something…We all stopped thinking maybe there was a problem…on the contrary, he was just making sure she had told us to be careful with our purses, phones and cameras because the bandits roam the markets…Then he asked her where we are from…America she said and a BIG smile came across his face…He told her to tell us “Welcome and he hoped we were having a good time”…I, of course, asked for a picture…and to my amazement he agreed…We took two pictures and then he told Fatemeh to be sure I did not post them anywhere or he would get in big trouble…He was so amazingly sweet and kept smiling and gesturing to us…As we walked away I mentioned to Fatemeh that I was surprised a Revolutionary Guard Officer would agree to the picture…She said he told her he didn’t want to disappoint me so he reluctantly agreed…and I promised no Posting…We continued to stroll in the Bazaar for about 15 minutes or so and then all of the sudden our Officer was back and whispering something to Fatemeh…I suspected what was coming next…but not the circumstances…He said that the Guard monitors the market and his superiors saw him take the picture and told him he had to find me and have me delete it…Because of so many cameras, they had no problem locating me! A good piece of info to have, eh? I happily deleted the 2 and made sure he watched so he was comfortable…he was willing to just trust me..and Pam deleted the one she took, even though he didn’t even know… we did not want to get him into trouble…he kept apologizing…I told him that I had the picture clear as day in my Mind and that his kindness will be with me for a long time. He still felt badly but went on his way…
Well now after that fun, we decided it was time for a Tea break and under this Bazaar was the most fabulous Teahouse(Klaus had many pictures from there so I already felt I knew it)…We shared Cardamon Tea & Cinnamon Tea… and while there these wonderful musicians delighted us with their music…It was a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the bazaar. While there, Fatemeh was teaching us some of the gestures Iranians do…for example to say “No” in a gesture you click your tongue while pursing your lips and raising your eyebrows…Let’s just say I could not coordinate those things and Fatemeh couldn’t stop laughing at me. They also served us these amazing cookies with Dates inside…I am not much of a fan of dates but they were delicious…as were the teas…Yes, Iran is a huge Tea Country…
We continued through the market to buy some spices…I love just sampling the different spices and concoctions the sellers create…And the sellers seems to enjoy watching our faces as they offer us some unusual tastes…The had these blocks of what looked like Fudge and I asked what it was…well it was Yogurt…just yogurt that they boil down and then as it hardens it turns into this block of fudge like thing…the seller offered a taste and I, along with Gary readily jumped at it…OMG was it sour…it may have looked like fudge but it certainly wasn’t…Gary then handed me a spice and said, “Give this a try”…Seeing that my Australian friend is an amazing chef and has been imparting us on how to cook various delicacies, I trusted he knew the spice…WRONG! As soon as I put it in my mouth I asked what it was and he laughed and said, “I have no idea. I just wanted to see what you thought first!”. Thank Goodness it was delicious.
Well it was time to head to the mountains. We drove through some amazing areas…We hit several check points and we asked why so many…It seems this area is close enough to Afghanistan that Opium smugglers have been really doing a number on the poor Iranian population…so they set up these check points with dogs to try to stem the flow.
We ended up in a lovely desert town to have our lunch prepared…no sandwiches on picnics here…they do full on hot meals…Iranians LOVE to picnic…You will see them on the road or in a park or practically anywhere they can spread a blanket…it is very posh…there is always a colorful blanket and lots and lots of food…As I mentioned before, there doesn’t seem to be a lack of anything relating to food…and so far everything has been truly delicious. While waiting for our food, we each wondered the town exploring on our own. They have these fabulous old houses that have rounded roofs for maintaining coolness…Kids were playing in the park and riding their bikes waving at us…I must say it’s nice to see Kids able to be out playing on their own…
Well off we went toward the “Iranian Alps”…we, of course, were only going to the very foot of them to see the waterfall…After Iceland and the 1000 waterfalls, I have not run to see more…but being in such a dry desert, I was so looking forward to some lush hills and water.
Our driver provided us with all we needed including a huge blanket, basket, Tea & Coffee and we had the food…and he joined us as well…When we got out of the van, I was regretting not bringing my jacket…the temperature had dropped significantly…into the upper 50’s…We lazed around enjoying the trees and running river when all of a sudden Pam says look…and this gorgeous Persian Cat(Huge) pops out…I caught a couple of pictures before it scampered away…but we were far into the wilderness…no houses…this cat looked supper healthy and not like the few city cats I had seen, who are scrawny. By the way we have not seen 1 dog…Iranians have dogs…a lot of them but there is a strict law of no dogs in public because Fatemeh said there were too many “bad incidents” with them…so they must stay in your home…Cats too..only inside…or in your yard
Sitting in the forest was unbelievably relaxing and I so enjoyed my taste of Iran’s natural trophies…I do wish I had add some time in the North of Iran…but it just means I must return.
As we hiked to the falls we tried to name the trees…I feel for poor Fatemeh…we are always asking her…”what is this…and that?”…she has to be a walking info hub!
The falls were a wonderful site…and there were 3 Iranian businessmen in suits enjoying an early break from their day…they were gallivanting around the falls having quite a good time…I took some pictures that I promised to send one of them, Michael. When he gave me his email and name he laughed and said “yes I have a very universal name”… He was nice enough to take our picture and after a bit and the fact we were all rather drenched, we went on our way…
By now it was 6pm and we still had a Mosque/Tomb and the most spectacular gardens of Iran to see…we made it to both and got to the Gardens at night…which was a lovely sight…Iran certainly does take pride in their Gardens…and this one sits smack in the middle of a desert! So like a little Oasis, we enjoyed the smell of the fragrant flowers and the soft light of the night.
We got back to our hotel around 9:30 and to say I am exhausted is an understatement.
I am posting this email because we had packed so much in and today we are staying at a home Stay with a local family and I am sure will not have the internet…So I will most likely(or hopefully)post again on Saturday, my first FREE day. It is some huge Religious Holiday and we will be in Yadz, which is a very Religious city…It should be interesting.
So until the next time…