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Towering sucesses

The guidebook describes a road of seemingly unending hairpins skirting the edge of steep edged valleys and forests. Nearby were the intriguing sounding sights of West Radken tower and the tower of Gonbad which might have been built by Nasa as prototype brick rocket ships. So we caught the overnight train to Gorgan and planned to travel back overland on the winding roads.

Gonbad tower really was a marvel (despite it's slightly inconguous placement by the main road through town). I was the only person there (Dave was taking it easy back in the hotel after having a brush with a gammy Tim/Paul-leg since being bitten by the flies at Lake Gaha) and had 20 minutes playing with the echos inside the tower before heading back on the hot crowded minibus but feeling very proud of myself for navigating my way there armed only with the phrasebook. I had wanted to visit the nearby pagan graveyard whose graves are marked by 2 foot hight penises carved from rock but it was a further 3 hour detour. I urge you to look for pictures on the internet - if you get caught using dodgy search terms you can blame me.

We headed to a small town to enquire about 4 wheel drives along the steep winding mountain roads to the tower at West Radken. Unfortunately des to Ramadan anyone travelling less than 3 hours should be back home by midday (I should verify this - it sound like a strange rule) and so we couldnt find anyone willing to take us on the back of their trucks. We were adopted by the local pharmasist and english teachers - Sobar and Razar - who found their friend - Ali the baker - to drive us there and back.

Neither the teachers or the baker had been to this tower so the teachers cancelled their classes and came with us. The tower sits in the middle of a beautiful valley with farmland in the base. We stayed here for a small picnic and then turned back along the road winding through the forests and past tiny "summer" migratory villages which are too snowy to spend winter and trying not to think about the drops to either side (fortunately Ali was the most obviously cautious driver i think we've had since we've been here)

Sobar's father was having a Ramazan fast breaking gathering at his with all the family and we were kindly invited to join them. But not before Sabar's wife also prepared us a full meal as well :) On the way to Sabor's fathers house we managed to squeeze in a trip to Ali's traditional bakery with a hand built enormous clay oven. *And* a quick visit to the Caspian seaside to watch the sunset. The water looked like mercury it was the perfect light.

We ate another full meal with 20 members of the family - i was privileged to be invited into the kitchen where the women could remove their hejab and chadors and lounged on the floor or played with the many children. We left with a feeling yet again that these bustling families are the heart of village life - and feeling extremely full!

Posted by rachndave 02:03 Archived in Iran Tagged driving family

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"Neither the teachers or the baker had been to this tower so the teachers cancelled their classes and came with us. "

tut tut! I can't believe you are corrupting the youth of Iran by stealing their teachers for your own touristing needs!

by Gulliver

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