A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about religion

One man (a host of Angels) and his chisel

Rachel - Lalibela

Today a bus driver probably saved us from a lynching. On the early bus between Gondar and Lalibela we were woken by the bus going up slightly on two wheels and veering off toward the edge of the road but the driver recovered in seconds. While we were still trying to find out what had happened everyone started to duck down in the aisle but slowly they got back into their seats and we turned to the man behind to explain, although his English wasn’t great and wouldn’t really give a straight answer. It seems that the driver had hit someone and was probably killed. Dave and I couldn’t understand if that were the case why we hadn’t stopped. Ten minutes later the drivers assistant was in the aisle phoning the Gondar office for advice and at the next town we stopped at the police station. There we found out that a girl had stepped in front of a parked minibus and the driver couldn’t do anything. The reason people had ducked was because villagers had been throwing stones at the windows and the driver hadn’t stopped because mob justice in the countryside means that they would probably have beaten the driver to death and the passengers would have been attacked as well. Everyone on the bus who saw what happened said there was nothing he could do and by driving on to the police station he did exactly the right thing to protect us. Poor girl, we didn’t hear whether she survived or not but people on the bus seemed to think it wasn’t possible she had.

I’ve been told since that this happens frequently because people in the countryside aren’t very road aware and in some places it is believed that an evil spirit can be riding on your back and that a fast car passing will knock it off and so people will jump out backwards into the road to get as close to the car as possible.

Everyone waited patiently for a replacement (which we had to pay again for, after much debate in the bus!) and we arrived in Lalibela quite late.

This area used to be completely inaccessible by road and would have taken 4 days to reach by Mule form the nearest large town. The journey in made us appreciate how spectacular that would have been for the town is hidden away in some Tolkein-esque mountains. But nowadays even has it’s own small airport probably only because it’s a must-see on the tourist trail. The area is famous for the result of a wild dream in which the ruler of the time was instructed by Angels to carve churches out of the rock. The result are a variety of some cavernous and some cosy churches carved out of one piece of rock – that includes pillars and decoration inside and out. Some are free standing from the surrounding rock trench and some are cut into the side of the mountain.

To look at, I have to be honest, we were a little underwhelmed by the decoration having been told time and time again how awesome they were. But with a little imagination you could appreciate the scale of human endeavor since each metre square of rock would have taken one man days of chipping with hand tools to excavate. As an engineering task they were pretty awesome. Although the legend goes that it was Angels who did most of the work by night - how's that for credit? The most decorative inside, which apparently has life sized figures of the disciples carved into the walls, barred entry for women with the tenuous reason that Jesus turned away Mary Magdelen upon his resurrection and asked for the disciples instead. Or so our guide says. *sigh*.

During the lunch break, when the priests of the church eat their sandwiches I suppose, we explored the medieval feeling village with unique round, thatched, two story huts. The paths between them were winding and narrow and we had to dodge livestock and streams of dirty water. At every turn greeted by calls of “farenji!” as usual. We were invited into one home for some coffee which we accepted and inside the walls have shelves moulded into the mud walls and pots hang from animal horns embedded into the fabric of the wall. Nice idea. After we politely left we headed down to the market which was also trading livestock and enquired after the cost of the goats, donkeys and oxen there. (5000 birr for a ox which is 200 pounds and a good couple of years wages here)

After lunch we resumed the tour of churches, weed filled baptism pools, dozing priests and mummified remains of pilgrims.

That morning we had been approached by some youths raising money for their circus group. It sounded interesting so we said we’d stop by after the churches closed to see their performance. When we got there we were the only people to come so we had a tour of their office and shown their personal progress reports and little stock cupboard of props. They take their show to the villages and use it to spread awareness about social issues and HIV. Their original teacher had unfortunately died and the group was taken over by an ex circus member now security guard at the bank, but now their training was taken from videos. I wasn’t therefore really expecting too much when they rolled out an old school gym mat on the flat dusty area outside their office and we sat down on a knackered wooden bench just in front of it. But wow, these kids have skills. They were performing routines of tumbles, three person high pyramids and somersaulting off the top, contortionism and juggling (although they’re not so good at juggling yet they say). We weren’t faking the oohs and ahs and gasps. I do hope they find a teacher because they’re all earnest and practice every day, they’re proud of what they’ve achieved and so were we.

Next day we took a break from churches to…climb up to a monastery…cut into the rock. For a change we thought we’d ride some donkeys up in the heat of the day. I decided to walk back cos mine was a bit rickety and the drops to the side were pretty steep. The drivers thought it was hilarious “giggle giggle farenji giggle”.

Our lack of camera confused the priest in charge of the church/monastery and it took us a few minutes to realize that he wasn’t proudly presenting the crosses for extended inspection but posing for a photo. I guess there aren’t many tourists who come without a camera.

The monestary wasn’t a big wow but it was a nice view up there and we had a chance to share some bread and tea with some men from the countryside who had just walked three hours to get to the market and were intrigued by us and laughing at our attempts to fend off the very persistent hat seller. None of us could speak each others language but it was a nice bonding moment in the shade.

Now we had to take a break from our road trip and head back to Addis by plane to extend our visas which irritatingly can only be done in the capital and caused a lot of scratching of our heads to figure out the logistics I can tell you. But we’d had enough of history for a while, it might be nice to be back in the big city.

Posted by rachndave 07:22 Archived in Ethiopia Tagged religion transportation tourist_sites Comments (0)

Toot Toot Splash Splash

Rachel - Gondar

We arrived worn out and smelly from our trek at our prebooked-and-twice-confirmed hotel ready to race each other to the shower only to find that the hotel had “lost” our booking on the busiest weekend of the Ethiopian Calendar: Epiphany (or Timkat as it’s otherwise known). Fortunately, heaven knows how, in fact I fully suspect that it was someone else’s room, there was one room left in the hotel. We overheard a backpacker arrive only two minutes after us having the same problem, but of course now there were no rooms at all and everywhere in town had been booked out for weeks. Poor guy. We offered him our floor if he couldn’t find anywhere but we never heard from him. There are some people you meet that you will always wonder after and he is one of them. (oh and there was no running water till the morning either...)

Epiphany is the celebration of the baptism of Jesus, I’m not sure why this is a big deal really and noone else I asked seemed to know either but it made for a good excuse to dance and sing in the streets for a full three days and nights so we weren’t going to start asking difficult questions and cause a rethink. The version of Christianity here seems to focus on the Ark of the Covenant (again, a bit puzzling since this is an Old Testament relic) which is taken out of the various churches around town, paraded through the streets, taken to a place with water, then taken back to the churches. The water in question is blessed by the priests after which it becomes holy water and then the people are splashed with the water to become blessed themselves. We had made sure we were in Gondar for the celebration because it is a particularly big event here and the pool is big enough for people to swim in and we were told it was a sight to see.

The parades are colourful and noisy with crowds of people watching and joining in with cheering and tooting on golden trumpets which gives it a kind of carnival feel. We were stood watching the groups of church singers and dancers passing by when we were tapped on the knee by Coralie who we’d met in the Simiens (she has one of those perfect jobs working as a mountain guide in Corsica with journalism as a backup for the off season) and her friend Susi and their couch surfing buddies in tow. So we all joined the parade down to the water pool where the replica arks would spend the night. With a bottle of Tej (honey wine) in one hand and a candle in the other we watched the chanting and soked up the atmosphere but after the arks disappeared behind the curtain everyone started to drift off to rest before coming back for 5am when the water blessing ceremony would start. Not everyone though because this is a time for celebration and so we ventured off to find the party. Which of course we did. After a few hours entertaining the children and young men of town with our attempts at shoulder dancing we continued on a small pub crawl lead by the couch surfing guy.

I nearly caused a fight at this point however because the couch surfing guy was talking about “farenjis” to the queue waiting outside one bar. I have an off-and-on problem with this word which means generically “foreigner” and sometimes can mean just non-ethiopian or can mean more like “outsider/them/white folk” in a disparaging sense. I thought he was supposed to be modern and groovy being a couch surfer and someone we’d spent the day with so I very politely asked him please not to talk about us while we were stood right there and using that word – just at that point some English girls came out and said they’d been living here for nearly a year and they hated it too and, although I didn’t hear this, said something like “f***ing ethiopians” which incensed the couch surfing guy and launched himself after them. Oops :-s It all calmed down after a while. The guy was a bit high strung though because the following night when Dave went out with him he nearly got in another fight, which Dave caused this time by accidentally knocking over someone’s beer. Oops again.

So we got up before dawn to go back to the pool and watch the water blessing. Everyone was gather around the pool dressed in white and chanting prayers along with the priest. As it started to get busier and busier we were directed to a special elevated seated area for “farenji”. That felt bit weird. On the one hand the crush and surge of the crowd was intense and frightening so I was glad to be out of it in this calm place which had a privileged view of the wtaer. But on the other hand if I were an Ethiopian, for whom this is an important event, I would be resentful of the white people being given special privileges. Even worse was that the Ethiopian guides such as our couch surfing friend, or visiting Ethiopians who no longer lived in the country who we knew of were first denied entry into the enclosure by the baton wielding security police and we had to plead on their behalf. It’s a very strange racism.

Around the pool stood holy types, white robed musicians and someone I was told was the president of the country who gave a speech. After 2 hours of speeches and prayers the final blessing was made at which point the crowds (who had until this point been literally beaten back in quite a startling way) surged forwards and young men who had stripped off to their pants jumped into the water. Immediately the atmosphere turned from one of reverence to one of delight and playfulness as the men in the water swam backstroke and did rolls, splashed each other like kids and filled bottles of the water to throw back to the crowds who would splash each other in the face. I now have a holy bag and shoes :)

What is the deal with holy water anyway? How long does the blessing last? I assume a long time since people take it home with them and hang it up outside their doors, but then what happens when the water is washed away, or it evaporates to make rain clouds – will that make for holy rain? What happens if you dilute it, is it still holy? Does the blessing apply to a coherent body of water in which case could a priest bless an ocean? Or is there a“zone of blessing” in which case if we had water in our bags would that be picked up? And how come a priest after his ordainment can suddenly make water “holy” but the day before he couldn’t? I don’t see much logic here.

We watched the people swimming and playing for a while and then decided to follow the arks back up through the streets, at least until a place where we could find breakfast ;) Unfortunately in the crowds to get out of the gates the police were pushing everyone back and using their batons and in the crush Dave had both his pockets picked including taking his camera which was attached to his belt so we lost all the pictures and videos of the day. He’s been smart enough to change the memory cards the day before suspecting that there might be pick pockets working the crowds.

Not much we could do though so we made our way back to be adopted by a group of kids who seemed to be very concerned about oursafety. They were particularly worried about the groups of countryside people whose form of celebration was to shake sticks in the air and bounce around in a small mob of about 15 shouting songs. They weren’t dangerous but they didn’t have much special awareness and would often bounce into the watching crowd. So these kids took our hands and ushered us away with concerned frowns and wagging fingers. They led us right through the town and presented us at the smart tourist hotel as if it were sanctuary. We were really touched. All we could think to do as a thank you was to give them a few rounds of “heads shoulders knees and toes” which they seemed to enjoy and then we thought we should probably go inside the hotel for fear of disappointing them! While we were on the terrace bar light aeroplanes would drop grass or leaflets over the crowds in the main square nearby.

The next day of celebration would be much the same so we paid a visit to the famous castles of Gonder which were impressive even by European castle standards and all 10 or so of them were situated inside a high wall and all was grass except for the castles which gave an atmosphere of medieval serenity. Inside the walls there were some tables set up ready for a posh festival closing ceremony for the president and dignitaries but as the guests were arriving some of them, dressed in traditional white-with-embroidered-coloured-borders dresses, sidled up and asked for official photos with us – in our normal stained and wrinkled tourist clothes, heaven’s knows why but I wonder if we made the papers :)

When we left people were still hooting horns and partying, I do wonder what the town is like at other times of the year but for us Gondar will always be a festive town.

Posted by rachndave 06:26 Tagged religion festivals Comments (0)

Christmas mark 2 (and a journey)

Rachel - journey to Bahir Dar and Bahir Dar

Whereas Malawi is red, Uganda is green, Ethiopia is yellow.

We are back in the land of the 5.30am bus journey. Yeuch. But the advantage of such an early start at least is being able to watch the sunrise over the countryside. We’d not seen any of the country yet and it is stunning.

The earth is a dusty light brown with short pale yellow grass. Every now and again are smart stick-fenced, or sometimes dry stone walled compounds containing a few rectangle houses and circular huts made of stick and mud with conical thatched roofs on the circular huts and usually a cluster of frosty looking eucalyptus trees being grown for firewood. Lots of these compounds, particularly those with stick-fenced pens for animals, put me in mind of Australian farms. The land we passed through was fairly flat and open but interestingly uneven, slashed by metre deep wriggly gashes revealing the brown earth at the bottom of which would be a stream or a dry bed and small clusters of trees. As the sun rose and people appeared we saw older children, wrapped in blankets, taking out and shaking rugs. Women in blankets standing in doorways watching the day start. Young boys lead donkeys away from the roads across the fields and men driving small herds of cattle with sticks. Young girls walking by the road wrapped in scarves carrying water cans. Horses grazing in fields of recently harvested cultivated lands scattered with small angular rocks. As the houses woke up wood smoke would be rising from the conical roofs. Sometimes in small towns we’d pass rows of corrugated iron shops in bright colours which would remind me of brighton beach huts. And as the sun was rising it was piercing the clouds and the rays would give everything a warm pale yellow glow.

Later we drove along one edge of the Nile river gorge – on one side of the bus I had a view of the huge “crystalline” looking rocks and scrubby slopes, and on the other was a wide open bowl of yellow and green peppered with the silver roves of the town in the far bottom. On the far side of the bowl was the Nile, wide and grey, snaking through the land and mirroring the road on this side of the basin.

That journey was some of the most beautiful landscape and light I’ve ever experienced.

We arrived in Bahir Dar, city of the lake, in the late afternoon and after a frustrating muddle with a hotel who bent the truth about their having space for us we ended up in a super budget place but super friendly too. They loved Dave’s passport photo and liked to touch my hair, giggling all the time. But nevertheless we had wanted to stay in a hotel on the lake so we went that night to negotiate a price and ended up being invited in for drinks by the eccentric manager Bisrat. He had his large double bed in his office which he’d occasionally jump onto to lounge amongst the newspapers, was always on his mobile phone or checking emails and his subject of conversation would jump around every 2 minutes. It took over an hour, and between side discussions about politics and personal desires *and* it turns out he organizes affordable trips to the danakil which we also signed up to, we finally agreed a deal and would come back the next day.

Next day we checked in and signed up to the boat trip running to the monasteries that are found on the islands in the middle of the big lake although we were a little late to visit one of them and one of them didn’t let in women so actually I only saw one. I think they’re all pretty similar though. The focus of the site is the classic Ethiopian style round church with a conical stick roof – inside and at the centre of the church is a room containing a replica of the arc of the covenant which noone but priests can enter, on the outside of which though are almost cartoon like paintings of the life of jesus, mary and the saints and the ring of space that is left is for praying and chanting in with a few drums dotted around. The monks themselves live in the round huts as found everywhere else. So really it doesn’t feel like a monastery so much as a village.

On the boat trip we made friends with an Ethiopian couple who now live in London. They were over here for Christmas to visit family and were more tourists than we were with flashy clothes and sunnies, cameras and video cameras. In the evening we met them in a traditional music bar like the one we went to in Addis and they were snapping and filming away the whole time :) In these bars the customers sit around the edge of the room and the performers dance and sing in the middle and every now and again the singers will pick people out in the room and sing nice but cheeky songs about them while dancing in front of them, after which you’re supposed to stick money (notes) to their foreheads. The dancing is the Ethiopian style which instead of being all about the hips is all about the shoulders. While stamping your feet, with your hands on your hips, you rotate or shimmy your shoulders around energetically. This isn’t just a traditional style either, it’s the same moves in pubs and clubs too. It’s really tricky to get the hang of and tiring to keep going but it feels quite slinky for the 30 seconds when it all comes together.

Bahir Dar is a lazy feeling town with wide streets and lots of cafes and hotels. The fascinating market in the centre of town sells all sorts: frankincense (used in the coffee ceremony) and spices, chickens, coffee pots, all sorts of grains, chat (for chewing), injera stoves (for the sour pancakes) and second hand clothes. We were adopted by a young man and his friend to show us round the market, meet his mother selling coffee pots, and bargain on our behalf for a couple of warm jumpers we’d need for the Simien Mountains. After that we all shared some dinner and drinks to say thank you and then parted because today was Ethiopian Christmas eve and there was a nighttime mass in the church we were curious to see.

For any church or holy event, even regular Sundays, everyone wears white with a large white scarf covering the head – for both men and women. On this day the church was packed. The priest would chant/sing sermons and excerpts from the bible and this was piped outside the church over speakers to where we were stood amongst the sparse crowd of white clad worshipers surrounding the church. Every now and again, in unison, with no signal, the people inside and outside the church would mutter or sing something back or bow to the floor in a way you would expect to see in a mosque, or read quietly from their own pocketsized copies of the bible. At some point the replica of the arc of the covenant is brought out under the shade of a glitzy umbrella and paraded around, and at various points the priests would disappear behind a curtain although the singing/chanting would go on. We were able to move freely around the outside of the church, move amongst the corwds and peer in the windows. It was extremely atmospheric and somber mood and a little spooky moving amongst all the white robes. We left about 3am and they we could still hear them chanting at 5am when we got up to go to the loo, the hotel not being far from the church.

The previous day we had been invited by Bisrat the manager to his family’s house for Christmas dinner which was very nice of him. There were several other hotel guests invited as well and we all went by minibus to be greeted by his mother in a very modern 2 up 2 down house in the town. Bisrat The Distracted disappeared and left us to drink beers brought by the maid and get to know each other and then he came back later for dinner. Christmas dinner was just like normal dinner – with various tasty, spicy stews and injira pancakes. Bisrat disappeared again and while he was out some itinerant praise singers paid a visit and sang us all songs (which unfortunately we couldn’t understand) and stopped for some coffee. Just like carol singers really :) We left in the mid afternoon and ended up hooking up with a group of Ethiopian, Swedish and German people we’d crossed paths with the night before round the fire. They’d all been up all night and we still drinking so we went for a birthday dinner for it was one of the Ethiopian lady’s birthday, and ended up back at the fire for a night of deep and strange conversations – for she was quite philosophical and had many opinions which made for a thought provoking evening. A typical Christmas I suppose – boozy conversations round an open fire.

A lovely, interesting day, but Christmas wasn’t the festivity we thought it might have been. Religiously significant and family oriented certainly but without the celebration you might have expected. But wait, Epiphany celebration is just around the corner and that one’s supposed to be a big’un.

Posted by rachndave 09:01 Archived in Ethiopia Tagged landscapes parties markets religion Comments (0)

A monk's picnic

Like everywhere we have been so far the summer months are hot and dry but the winter months bring snow and lots of it. Iran gets 10 moetres we were told and everyone in Lebanon and Syria are also proud of their four seasons. Bcharre, in the north west of Lebanon, is a skiing village which serves the nearby Cedars resort during the winter but in summer it is the best place to explore the Qadisha floor which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful areas in Lebanon. After the hot and dusty yellow sandstone landscape of Baalbeck we were ready for some green again.

After making a plan to meet up in the same hostel 4 hours away we left Amy and Daun in Baalbeck to wander round *our* ruins ;) for the morning while we made our way straight to Bcharre

The hotel and taxi drivers assured us that the best way to get there was to get a shared taxi to a nearby town and hitch the rest of the way. So we jumped confidently out of the first taxi only to be laughed at by the locals in the sleepy little village we were dropped in. But we soon had a team of children flagging down cars (to no avail) and eventually a passing australian-lebanese man said he fancied a drive anyway and took us most of the way there and from there we managed to flag a shared cab for the short final hop. And I had a chance to practice my school girl french with a softly spoken and smiley local man in the back. I just can't get to grips with Arabic so it's been lucky for us that everyone here speaks French.

I mention these moments really because catching shared taxis and stopping in smaller towns is the main way that we meet local people and get to swap our countries stories - this is how I get my flavour for the country but it's difficult to share that with you precicely but it'll be a reminder for me when I look back on this when i'm old, so bear with these little bookmarks :)

We climbed into the mountains and wound our way round the side to see a cloud sitting in the valley below - a very pretty sight - and under that cloud was Bcharre. The town itself has a very seasidey feel partly due to the fog/cloud I think and the fact that the houses are built up the steep sides of the valley and so as you look out you cant see anything on the other side for the fog and so it could easily be the sea. It was so cool up here that I had to use my jumper (hooray for packing it!). We pootled about the town, had dinner with the girls, and got an early night ready to start our hike at 8am sharp.

Fortunately the cloud stayed away the next day and revealed the sights that were hidden the previous day. Wow. The valley is steep, and full of green orchards and vegetation. There is a river in the bottom and the odd little houses dotted on the other side...heaven knows how they get bread and milk because there were no roads on the other side that we could see. Dave, James-the-Australian-teacher-eight-months-into-his-year-sabatical and I scrambled down the valley side to join the donkey tracks and then footpaths along the side of the valley. The valley is famous for harbouring persecuted religious minorities throughout the centuries, mostly of the christian maronite order, all that is left now are old monasteries and cave hide-outs you can explore. However some of the monasteries are still working and have been since the 11th century. We spent the day scrambling up hills to check out caves, visiting the old hermitages (these maronites like to be left alone), monastery museums (we saw the first printing press built in the whole Middle East...and lots of wine making paraphenalia...no wonder these monks like to be left alone) and scrumping apples, grapes, walnuts, figs and blackberries from the orchards, monastery gardens and even those provided legally by nature, like, just out in the open. We resisted the urge to climb into the little steel cables transport box to cross to the other side...so *that*s how they get their milk and bread.

We were making our way back on the road, pestering local goats and watching the sun sink behind the rock speckled valley, happy but weary, when our dream finally came true....!! a pick up truck stopped to give us a lift!! so we rode back home along the top edge of the valley with the glowing sunset behind us, waving like idiots at all the groups of old men sitting outside shops. James didnt quite get why were were so excited but we grinned like loons the whole way home :-D

I was still smiling when we finally fell into bed (after the walnut-tasting competition of the monk's spoils, a beer, a shower and a good meal). Good day.

Posted by rachndave 07:58 Archived in Lebanon Tagged food hiking religion transportation valleys Comments (0)

The chuckling mosque of Baledeh


Continuing our road journey back to Tehran via the winding North Iranian mountain roads brought us to the pretty little valley town of Baledeh (population 9000). Baledeh is the only village in the area apparently to have accommodation or shops. And it also has a proper river and a castle: bonus.

The accommodation turned out to be a blanket on a carpeted floor, with a cold shower (but very clean) but we had our rollmats and sleeping bags and at an eventual agreed 15 pounds a night we werent complaining too much. To the castle!

A hour's hard scramble to the top rewarded us with some of the prettiest and greenest sights i've seen so far. Lush green plantations spreading out from the nestled town and into the two valleys either side of the ridge on top of which we stood. I sat here for a good half hour imagining how it would be to manage my dream farm and live this simple life when my daydream was broken by the sound of singing from the mosque. Not too unusual this month; until the howling started. This month is one of mourning for one of the decendents of the prophet Muhammad and every day, several times a day, there is a half hour sung story broadcast over the local mosque's tannoy system - at first I thought this was over the top outpouring of grief until it becaume clear that the singer wasn't crying but laughing, and you could also make out the cheers and laughter of people in the background. The singer did his best to recover his composure and finish the song but for the next half hour he would regularly break down into giggles while his friends mocked and laughed along. Sitting on a rock at the top of this lonely beautiful ridge as the sun dipped behind the hills and laughing along has been a highlight of my trip so far :)

We picked our way down the rocky and wandered round the pastures, through herds of sheep and back into the town feeling like we could live in a place like this.

The next morning from our high window we watched a sombre march through the town with men in black beating themselves with little fly whips of "tinsel" while drummers slowly drummed and singers sang from speakers on the back of a truck. A slow motion Notting Hill Carnival if you like on what was not far after Bank Holiday Monday. This day was also the day on which the Koran was given to Muhammad - I think it's a shame that a people choose to put on a public marches in rememberence of the death of one of it's prophets rather than celebrate the birth of it's entire religion. Understand this and I think we might understand something of the psyche.

We wandered along the river through more lush irrigated mountain fringed farmland but eventually had to make a move on. We were desperate to hitch a ride on the back of a pick up truck after our failure to do so in Kordkuy and soon had a team of people bartering on our behalf with local trucks driving along the one road through the town. Unfortunately today was a holiday and most people were staying local and even the taxi's were asking a bit too much. In the end one of our haggling helpers agreed to drive us part of the way where we might be able to pick up a truck on the main road. By this time, and after many very similar conversations, my Farsi was rudimentary enough to hold a pretty decent although noun based conversation all the way there and this was one of the most pleasurable journeys we've had.

Unfortunately we didn't have a chance to find a truck after we were dropped off because we had stood weighing up our options for not 2 minutes when an english speaking mother and family stopped who were headed to our final destination and insisted we joined them. They had been spending the holiday picnicking by the sea with their two young boys and we made a few more picnic stops en route as is the tradition here :)

Late at night we made it to Tehran to meet up with Masoud and plan our three day hiking trip to the Alamut Valley in the Alborz mountains at the very northern edge of Iran where it is rainiest, coolest and supposed to be almost like the UK in spring. I can tell you I was looking forward to leaving the car behind for a while. All this bread eating and sitting around in cars is not giving me the beach body I was hoping to achieve before Lake of Stars

Posted by rachndave 03:16 Archived in Iran Tagged religion mountain driving Comments (0)

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