Souls of Iran... / by Cristian Geelen

June fifth... Monday


It was time for me to fly to Iran. It was a bit iffy if would still be able to go because I had some trouble with with my visa. Which in retrospect was my own fault, but I found out about that a week before I left. So I decided to wing it!

Visa on arrival it is!

I was a bit scared I wouldn't get one because I was in Israel earlier, but got one in about half an hour or something. So jeej! In the country! Was a bit confusing where to get my visa because well... My farsi isn't that good haha.

When i was through customs I was waited on by a wonderful man named Fazel. Met him on facebook and wanted to help me get a good start. So he helped me exchange money, got me a Iranian sim card, and made sure i was able to catch my bus. The bus to Isfahan that is, because that was my first big stop.

The airport is about a hour from Tehran so also a hour from the bus station. And my plane landed late at night. But he was confident I would make it. And boy did I make it. We hopped in his pick-up truck, threw my backpack in the back, and he even got me some fruit. When we were driving he had a idea I would sure make it. After driving for a while he parked the truck a the side of the highway and asked me get my backpack and just follow him. I was like; okay... So followed him, and we crossed the highway. But even in the middle of the night it is still very busy, so that was quite the experience haha. He started running towards a bus, and arranged something with the driver. Gave him some money, and a couple of hours later I was in Isfahan.

Of course when I was reading about Iran I read about the Iranian hospitality and the kindness of the people living there. But you only know what it is when you are there.   During my first walk through the city and creating big ass blisters I got stopped by so many people that just wanted to have a talk with me. Not like in some other places, that in the end they are trying to sell you something, but are genuinely interested in you. They are curious where you are from, what you do, all the girls want to know if you have got a girlfriend haha. But it doesn't feel forced or anything. Most of the time the people i have met just wanted to tell what they do, they study, passed a certain exam, or just talk about their passions. It was a nice change of pace in comparison to the Netherlands where everyone is to rushed.

I started to chill out at the biggest bridge in Isfahan, the Si-o-seh-pol bridge. It has got 33 arches and because the arches you are able to sit at water level so you can cool down from the heat. And damn, it was so warm!!! The rest of the afternoon I talked with some local girls because they were so curious who the big blonde guy was hanging out there, and that seemed to be a blue print for the rest of my trip. Every person guy, girl, young, or old started a conversation.






According to the woman who were working in the hotel in Shiraz where I also stayed I look like a Ken doll... You know, the one from barbie. Never expected to hear that hahah. 

Anyways, back to Isfahan.

Said goodbye and with my cooled down feet I started to look for food. That was quite difficult because it was Ramadan. But another nice person, a gentleman around his fifties guided me to one of the places where I could get some food so i could eat it after sunset. Gave me his number, so if i needed to know anything I could give him a call. That was so nice! As soon as the sun started setting the park at the end of the bridge started filling up with families who were having big ass picnics with their families and chill out as much as possible. Other people read some poetry at the waterfront. But it was one social event. And that every night... Sat down  a bit later to eat my own food. But with all the BBQ's preset i really didn't need to buy my food. So much food everywhere, and everyone wanted to share. Eventually before i went to bed I made a nice long exposure of the bridge.







Damn, so much story already in one day!

In the upcoming days in Isfahan I met a lot of new people, and even a couple of other tourist. Peter, the awesome dude who was riding his bicycle through the entire middle east. Even through deserts and shit. That dude is a boss! And two Germans named Marc and Max. And of course a lot of more local people.

I met Marc and Max at the rooftop of the hotel/hostel is was staying. And right before that I got bombarded with a shitload of text messages because there has been a terrorist attack in Tehran. But Tehran is six hours from Isfahan, so wasn't worried about that. Drank my saffron tea, and made it through the afternoon heat. Marc and Max are also photographers and we did a photo walk through the city. Super nice guys! 

It was nice to eventually meet some other tourist actually, because you don't see that many in Iran. At least not during the time I was there with Ramadan. And in a country where you are completely cutoff from the outside world, and no working credit cards, and other stuff. It was a guess some sort of a safe feeling i guess? Anyways, back to the story!

I made myself a rigorous schedule and wanted to see as much as possible. And i'm sure if will forget to tell about a lot! But i can always tell that later! So after a lot of more walking and photographing I hopped on the overnight bus the Shiraz! And i will never forget the old taxi driver was singing along with a American love song in his best English.

Enter Shiraz...

Shiraz is completely different than Isfahan. Not bad, just different. And the same game plan. Walking like a idiot with my camera. Trying not to melt. And later figuring out why the river over here was dry... It was even hotter! And also, global warming has it's effect here too... It did not rain for four years! I guess that's also the reason my all-stars melted...

One of the coolest things in Shiraz I have experienced when I was walking towards Eram garden. The Eram is a botanical garden that they somehow keep hydrated in the hottest and driest place i have ever been. That fact alone is really impressive.

I was really grumpy because of the heat. And the trip was a hell of a longer walk than I expected and Google maps told me (Silly Google maps...)... So halfway I bumped into two young Iranian girls. They were sixteen years old, and I guess the same as every sixteen year old girls in other places around the world. The were all giddy and nervous the big blonde guy was talking to them.

They guided me towards the garden and even paid for my entrance fee. Hung out all afternoon and they told me about their culture, I told them about mine. And how it is like to live in the Netherlands. Showed some pictures and videos.

It was time for me to head back to the place where I stayed the night. So I tried to say goodbye but they were having none of it. One of the girls dad was a cab driver and she said he wanted to pick me up. And I was like; yeah sure why not. I rather spend my money with someone who was so nice and his daughters gave me a entire tour though the garden than giving my money to a stranger.

So a hour later the dad picked my up. But before I was back in my hotel i got a entire tour though the city and he made sure I ate the local ice-cream. It was a sort of spaghetti ice-cream. Not real spaghetti of course. But it looked like it. And after such a warm long day it was just what I needed!

During the ride they have song some local pop song from the radio. Did some dancing in the car. And I had no idea what I was singing. But at least it sounded fun haha.

They dropped me of and didn't even want to have money. I left some anyway on the dashboard... The family was really sad to see me leave. But they really wanted me to be sure I was safely continuing my journey. So the next night they picked me up. And made sure I was at the correct night bus of to Yazd. Gave them such a big hug for all the good care they have had given me. They were such a nice people and kind souls!






Of course my journey continued to Yazd and than Tehran. Where i would meet David, another German, and reunite with Fazel again. But those stories I will leave for later on...

I'm planning on writing the stories for another book or maybe even a small exposition if I can find a location. You you guys and girls can read the rest of the stories when that is happening haha. Or maybe I will devote a second blog part about it so I can tell about my adventures with David.

Iran, you were bautiful...