Be arami, Be arami .... A first trip to Iran - Jeep, Taxi, Taxi, Bus, Taxi


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Middle East » Iran » West » Esfahan
October 10th 2014
Published: November 11th 2014
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David from Spain snores.

David from Spain snores loudly.

David from Spain snores loudly, nearly all night long.

Chilly night and a cloudy sky this morning without a fully visible sunrise. I do like contrasts though... Serenity v Snoring, Sleep v No Sleep, Orange Sunrise v Grey Sky...

So today after a final campfire breaky and a farewell to Hashem and David from Spain I am picked up by Ali in his super fast jeep. He has his constant companion, his little boy, with him who loves tearing around the sand dunes as much as his he does. I would bet he will be driving like his Dad in a few years. Arrive back at Barandaz where I get picked up by a taxi driver to go back to Garmeh. If I'd thought this through it would have made a lot of sense to stay in the desert for another morning, then go back to Barandaz for a shower and onto Kohr to catch the 1pm bus to Esfehan. As it is I am travelling for about 2 1/2 hours passing by Kohr to get back to Kohr. However, a taxi ride is always an adventure, especially in Iran. This ride is no different. We make no less than 8 stops even though I am the only passenger. The journey goes a little something like this:

Stop1- Petrol

Stop 2 - Vegetable shop for 2 large boxes of cucumbers and tomatoes (Fun Fact- Iran is the 7th largest consumer of tomatoes per capita in the world, I can't find the stats on cucumbers but I KNOW cucumber consumption is huge in Iran)

Stop 3 - Hardware shop- pick up drain fitting

Stop 4 - Fruit shop

Stop 5 - Hello to friends on side of road

Stop 6 - Repeat circuit of Kohr stopping to say hello to other friends

Stop 7 - Pick up large mirror (please don't require emergency stop- it will slice me or the driver in half depending on the way we are

a) Impacted by other vehicle/s

b) Skid out of control at high speed and roll, crash into other vehicle/s and/or /person/s

Stop 8 - We make one last hello stop (I'm sure it was to the people we'd stopped for in Stop 5)

One hour and 10 minutes later we arrive back at Ateshooni. It's actually very nice to get back to see some familiar faces and some new ones. I wish I could stay another night. Maziyar and his wife are keen to hear how the desert trekking went given the high winds of 2 nights ago. I tell them how awesome it was and that the winds were nothing in comparison with the snoring of David from Spain. Actually it wasn't that bad- I only heard it when I was awake! After a hot shower (divine!!!!!!) it's time to repack and walk back up to the lodge in time for the taxi. But first some more tea before Akhbar- original Kohr-Garmeh taxi driver, arrives. Meet a Chinese travel agent from Beijing who is missing wifi connectivity and 2 girls from Slovenia who I am sharing the taxi with, they are off to Yazd. Sadly it is time to leave Ateshooni, we are given a hot lunch in a takeaway container for our respective bus trips and Akhbar whisks us away. We pass 4 large tour buses and lots of cars- I had forgotten that it is the weekend here in Iran, Garmeh was going to be busy. I guess it was probably a good time to leave after all.

The bus station office is next to a little shop. After getting my ticket I decide to buy some biscuits for 8000 IRR (about 30c), the girl in the shop wants to give them to me for nothing- I insist that I should pay, and we do the transaction by calculator. She gives me a packet of cinnamon chewing gum as my change from 10 000 IRR. Climb onto the 'more local than the last local' bus with only a cursory look at my backpack stored in the luggage compartment. At 1.15pm we're on our way. Things of note- the bus driver has super white teeth and a permanent smile. He turns up the Persian pop music and we're off. His co-worker- the ticket checker, and he have an almost constant (6 hrs straight) animated conversation. The conversation is interrupted only to check his mobile, make calls, turn to talk to the old man behind him and, at one stage, watch a video on his friends phone. Ah the joy of being in the 2nd row of the bus in full view of the speedo, the oncoming traffic and the driver...

One bonus feature of this local bus is that the windows open (perhaps for easy escape?). It is very nice to have a breeze. There are lots of empty seats so I get two seats to myself again. There's room to stretch and the view from the window is really beautiful. The bonus of bus travel in Iran is that you get where you want to go cheaply and you get to sit back and just take in all the scenery. I find it relaxing just staring out the window letting my mind drift. Beautiful rocky mountain ranges much of the way to Esfehan. The mountains recede, the sun sets and the traffic becomes more dense. We have reached the Kaveh bus terminal in Esfahan, it's just after 7pm. Lug my back pack out of the hold and go in search of a taxi. You don't have to search hard; the taxi drivers just find you. Do the deal and arrive at my next destination- Dibai House.

Dibai House is my indulgence for this trip. It is my most expensive stay at €40/night. I have 2 nights booked. We arrive at a door in a wall at the end of a series of alleys in the old town section. The driver walks me to the door- the alley is too narrow for cars. I think I love it already! Ring the door bell and Soufi, the owner, lets me in. WOW!! What an amazing, amazing house. It is a completely and elaborately restored Persian house dating back to 1670. It was originally built as a larger dwelling called Khaneye Harandi, taking up an entire block of the town. It belonged to a wealthy textile merchant and included all the traditional architectural features such as a Hoz Khane (pool house), horse stables, courtyards and multiple buildings and rooms. It was divided up into smaller parcels in the 1800's and bought by an army officer by the name of Dibai. Soufi bought it in a state of disrepair in around 2000 I think, the renovation took 4 years and it is one amazing renovation. The central courtyard with fountain is painted a chalky organic blue, it's sensational. Rooms off the courtyard are painted in shades of saffron, yellow and tangerine. My room is apple green- so cool! Soufi shows me around- the hoz khane room is a glittering, blingy mirror tiled space, there are more rooms off this area and stairs that lead to her private residence and roof top. We "take tea" (seriously- it feels like we shouldn't just be drinking tea- "taking tea" is way more fitting) in the courtyard. The Ali Mosque is next door and its 11th century minaret is glowing green. Then.... the fireworks start!!!! Really- actual in-the-air fireworks- it is intensely beautiful- I DO LOVE IT!!!!!



PS- Alas, not many pics today.


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