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Camping fail - mountain win

The Lonely Planet guide suggests that catching a train or a direct bus between the two main towns of Shiraz and Esfahan would be a wasted opportunity since between the two cities lies the stunning Zagros mountains although LP cautions that this is definitely off the beaten track. Sounds ideal!

I dont think we have completed a journey yet without a super nice and helpful Irani scoffing/despairing at our plans and suggesting various alternatives, and this was no exception. We have been getting shared taxi's when we can to cut costs and our taxi -buddy suggested (read: insisted) an alternative final city destination and a visit to a waterfall in the city where we needed to change taxis. The waterfall sounded nice and easy so when the taxi-buddy left us we trusted in the young, dangerously fast-driving taxi driver to take us there. Except he took us to his house instead and insisted we join him for lunch. This has become the norm: benign kidnapping.

After a brief if a little awkward stopover for an admittedly delicious meal with his mother and brothers (who were fasting so we just sat in the middle of the room on the carpet, ate and tried to make conversation from my phrasebook) we stopped at the frankly rubbish "waterfall" (which eminated from a pipe) for ten minutes and returned to the car to find that my camera and the equivalent of two hundred dollars in cash had been taken from my bag, and we think dave's headtorch was missing from his. The taxi driver hadn't locked the car at his home, or at the 2 minute toilet stopover earlier :(

So I cant share my photos with you - i'm gutted because I had some crackers - and lots from my last few days in London. I'll have to get another camera in Damascus (cash economy here means we can't afford it in Iran). Fortunately dave and I have many duplicates but anyway, i had some i was very proud of. Sigh.

But anyway we made it to our intended destination of a much more impressive waterfall and set up camp at the base. In the nearby tea house we attracted a crowd and shared a shisha* but when it came for bed we said we were heading to our tent... the teahouse owner would have nothing of it and bundled us into the nearby prayer room cum greenhouse.

The next morning we woke early (you try sleeping in a greenhouse!) and climbed the steep hill by the side of the waterfall and summitted the peak to marvel at he valleys and mountains beyond. It was awesome. After making our way down, frollicking with some local kids in the waterfall and stopping to pose for a dozen pictures we were put in a cab by the teahouse owner (more photos) and made our way to the next town to pick up a shared cab.

Our taxi driver from here haggled hard and entertainingly - he was an english teacher making some extra money in the holidays (many people here have two jobs...25% inflation hits people like teachers hard) and we had a good chat on the way to Sar Khun - a little village in the middle of nowhere as it turned out, but it *was* on the map!

It was in this not-too-pituresque village where we were consulting the map and deciding whether to flag down a car/cab to move on and try and find somewhere prettier to set up a camp when a passing teacher stopped to see if we needed help. Trying to explain that we didn't need help but perhaps needed info about onward villages, turning down food and board and explaining this using only charades and drawings - attracted the attention of the local police in the process. Eventually we shed the police and were offered a lift to the next village. We stopped and were trying to convince the teacher using charades again that we'd be fine while he insisted on calling an english teacher friend of his who lived in this much prettier village only for the police to turn up again.

Eventually in order to make the police leave and keep the original guy happy we agreed to stay with the english teacher instead of camp. We spent a night there talking with his entire 30 strong family, including the adorable and super helpful 11 year old Daniel (i wasnt allowed to keep him :( ), and were given a gentle lecture about our unfortunate misdirection by the visiting 19 year old mullah and were finally allowed to go to sleep to be lullabyed by the braying donkeys and crowing cockerels. It was quite a night!

The next morning the english teacher's friend visited and we all went to a nearby dam which had been built over a village and a main road which you could still see disappearing into the water. We were even fortunate enough to ride on a boat right out to the dam itself - it was amazing - still, bright turquoise water surrounded by mountains all around.

Eventually we were allowed to leave (i wasnt sure we would be at some points) and we caught the mahmooly (travelling american diner style bus) to Esfahan.

Incidentally, before we left we were introduced to another friend of the family who is a english literature university student. He was telling us how universities here are actually very conservative places and he was made to cut off his long hair or be kicked out. A story we have heard several times since - living with your parents here is where you experience the most freedom. They seem quite amused when we say it's exactly the opposite situation here. Makes me think now it was a wasted opportunity not to die my hair green while at university when I had the chance.

  • Shisha in this country is something entirely different - it may be crystal meth, crack or it may be opium we cant quite work out what people are telling us because they use a slang word "ice" for the drug which might be different from the slang term we know here. in any case this has caused people some surprise on more than one occasion :)

Posted by rachndave 04:42 Archived in Iran Tagged lodging

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Great update! When you return to London I bet you'll be feeling like the people are the rudest, least friendly people in the world!

Big fat bummer about your camera Rach (and the cash too, but lost photos really hurts much more). How are you saving your photos? If you want an easy place to upload them (unlimited space, quick upload), I can give you my Smugmug access details? Just say the word.

Keep the updates coming, am loving the pictures you paint! Like the donkey lullaby and scoffing lunch surrounded by hungry fasters - nice ;-)

Anna x

P.S. Would you mind letting us know whether it's you or dave writing each piece? There sometimes aren't any clues! (although I usually assume it's Rachel)

by Anna B

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