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Published: November 1st 2014
My New German Friends
Goodbye Kurt and Oliver
I'm catching a bus this afternoon to the desert so this morning my plan is to relax. I say goodbye to Kurt and Oliver and plant myself in the garden in the shade with the i-pad to try and catch up with my blog, alas, there are lots of distractions so I end up escaping into the alley ways. I am convinced that I know exactly how to get to the main street then the bazaar- sooo, take a left- connect with the main road, it's not far from there. I take a left for the bazaar and 10 minutes later arrive right back at the front door to the hotel! Resort to Plan B- take a right and walk- this time I end up on Emam St- gold! My main mission is to find some sun screen before I get to the desert- the bottle that I bought is rolling around in the back of Hosein's car... all $35 for 100ml of it. The guy behind the desk at Kohan has written the Farsi translation out for me so I find what I need easily for about $6.50. Apply liberally and keep going in search of the bazaar. The bazaar
Apparently the Australian gumtree was planted around the world to dry up swamp land- not so sure that was the reason here in Yazd
is quite big with wider alleys than I have seen to date, it's as equally convoluted as all of the others so I decide to wander aimlessly- lots of gold, spices and ceramics. I somehow miss the textile section so still have no idea what the famous Yazdi silk blend fabrics look like. The ceilings and large wooden doors are impressive, even with a piece of modern graffiti making an appearance- I really like urban graffiti but this piece spray painted onto one of these ancient ceilings seems a bit wrong. Take a number of ill advised turns and end up on the outskirts of town- how does this happen? I have no idea but after another series of turns I am right back at the Kohan Hotel! How does that happen???!!!! Bizarre.
Time for the desert adventure to begin. Catch a cab to the bus station where the 2pm bus is going to take me to Kohr (Kuhr), where someone
will find me and take me to Garmeh where I will find a desert lodge called Ateshooni where I have organised a 4 night stop- 2 nights at the guesthouse, 2 nights camping in the desert to coincide
A beautiful array of herbs and spices on offer
with the full moon (it was to be 1 night lodge, 3 nights desert but "Mike" the desert contact announced that it would be 2 and 2 in no particular order- OK...Mike... but a price renegotiation will have to happen- I leave that little thought with Mike).
Back to the bus... my ticket for the local bus costs less than $3 for a 5hr trip. It really is a cheap way to travel through this big country. Load my backpack into the luggage compartment and get on- I am the only foreigner amongst the locals. I perch myself in a window seat above the luggage compartment so that I can "keep an eye" on my backpack- DUMB MOVE-
1. No one will ever steal an entire fluoro green backpack in Iran (no one would steal in Iran, fullstop).
2. The seat is actually situated above the engine and a constant source of heat is radiating through the floor and enveloping me. Hmm, maybe that explains why the whole seat was empty.
Next, an official chador clad lady gets on and calls a list of names- Amir, Hussein, Fatimah, Ali, Hamad... they all respond by raising their
hands, suddenly it's my turn- the name "Tourist" has been called- I respond just like a local- hand up high in the hot air.
We make a few stops to pick up more passengers and another stop an hour into the journey where the driver goes and picks up 2 large blocks of ice- he packs them (dripping) into the luggage compartment- I think on or near the engine- a cooling mechanism? Not sure. I
certainly didn't feel any cooler. Make a final stop for a police check and log book examination and then we're off towards the desert. Out of the window desert with frequent green patches whizz by- the sun is beating down on the windows on the opposite side of the bus- I open my curtains wide to take in the landscape. As the sun sets the colours and terrains change from yellowish and sandy, to mountain chains in a deep limestone colour, to deep red terracotta formations. The moon rises. We drive on. We arrive at a number of small towns where people trickle off until its only me and about 2 others. Arrive in Kohr at the 5 hr and 15 minute mark.
Akhbar, the taxi driver, is there to meet me- he seems to know that I am the right person as he hauls my, now dirty and a bit wet, backpack from the luggage compartment. He chucks it into the boot of his clapped out taxi and gestures for me to get in to the backseat. It is customary as a female in Iran to sit in the back seat, it's actually probably for the best as he favours driving in the middle of the road, high beam on the one light that works and no seat belts. Lucky also that the speedo doesn't work- we're driving very, very fast, and Akhbar is about 75 yrs old and isn't wearing glasses. We cover the 33km from Kohr to Garmeh in under 25 minutes and arrive unscathed. I'm guessing that Akhbar probably does this run every day and night 365 days/year. Pulling into the village is pretty exciting, it looks ancient, lots of crumbling walls and mud brick. We pull up to the Ateshooni Guest House- it looks like a castle, walk past the goats and camels and through a low door into ... a long line of tourists! It would seem
Urban art on the roof
that I have arrived about 5 minutes behind several large groups of European tourists. Eeek.
Anyway... It's decided that I won't be staying at the guest house after all, but at Maziyar's (the owner) house- he has 3 small guest rooms. Initially I feel a bit disappointed but once I get there, well, it's actually great- nice room, nice little bathroom across the courtyard, it has a garden and is super quiet. Bernadette, Maziyar's mother-in-law, greets me in her sultry Parisian French accent and gets me a towel and some water, etc. I'm to walk 5 mins back to Ateshooni for dinner at 8.30- I make it without a single wrong turn (probably because there are no turns to be made). From here it gets a bit daunting- all 30 bus tour tourists are taking up every bit of sitting space and no one is very conversive- I figure I'll just eat and run. However, I get rescued by the French group's leader and driver who ask where I have been. It turns out that they are both avid climbers. They make a spot for me, find some tea and I'm back in my comfort zone. The dinner is
A maze of doors and alleys
sensational- a lamb casserole with spinach, rice, a vegetable dish, potatoes and flat bread, followed by more tea and dates. Very awesome! It was a long time ago that I had some leftover flat bread from breakfast dipped in carrot jam (also acquired at breakfast)!
After dinner the crowd thins and some space appears in the lounge area so I move up there. It's a long carpeted space looking out to the hills and date palms, there are cushions spread around the walls. Very relaxing. The next hour or so is sat gathered around Maziyar who plays a range of instruments including ceramic pots, bells and a didgeridoo. Mesmerising music. Maziyar is a big physical presence, he has wild long grey hair and beard and sort of looks Aboriginal- especially with the didgeridoo. The night winds up at 10:30. I walk back to my room and set up my bed- a mat on the carpet and a sleeping sheet. I've got no idea what the plan is for tomorrow except that breakfast is at 0730- will I go to the desert tomorrow? The moon's starting to look pretty full... http://www.ateshooni.com/ https://www.flickr.com/photos/ampletouch/3331722470/
Picture of Maziyar on
Murals around the city
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