Yazd: making final decisions

After two comfortable hours of sleep in the bus station, I got a taxi to the guesthouse I had been recommended by some other traveller. I was immediately shown my bed, which was bliss. And then I got a huge breakfast and decided on having a walk around before it was too hot for that.

The first thing that I realised was that all the houses around were made of mud and straw. I had to love the combination. And the next thing that happened was a interesting exchange with the workers at the bread shop at the corner of the alley where the guesthouse was situated. They even invited me to come in and take a picture with them. Also, I checked the ovens and took pictures around and I wanted to ask if I could make bread with them, but it was way too hot inside with the ovens working and all my clothes on and I just couldn’t enjoy it longer than that. After such a happy event, I continued my walk to find out all the main area around was looking the same and making me feel like of I was in some kind of Aladdin movie. There were wind towers everywhere and the houses and walling kept me entertained during all the way, until I decided to visit the main mosque in the city.

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This town made of mud is lovely!

Once inside the mosque, and without having any prior idea about this, there was the longest qanat in the world, which is an underground structure for collecting water and bringing it to the surface. Such an amazing work of engineering and so old! I was very impressed. By the time I left it was not even midday and it was already over 40 degrees, I was really tired and I went to my refugee to take a huge nap. Actually, my biggest nap ever, at least so far. I woke up 5 hours later with that feeling of not knowing if it was daytime, nigh time or if I had been sleeping until next day. But I hadn’t. So I got ready and prepared to explore the city a bit more. It had been 47 degrees and the heat was still intense but I wanted to wander around and do some discoveries, such as a water mill with underground water conducts that were going all the way to other villages and cities.

The day ended up like that, with a very good feeling, with the impression that I could start connecting with his country, finally. The landscape around the city, the houses… It made me feel like I could stay there for a whole week without getting bored of walking around them. The only problem was the heat and I was okay with it, although I wish they could cover me in mud and straw as they do with the walls of the houses to keep them cool. In the hostel, I was feeling so comfy that I got to wear shorts for the first time in this country! I felt safe and okay with it and it was quite hot even at night so it was so relief and a bit of the taste of freedom.

Even though I had a very long nap the previous day, the next day I didn’t wake up as early as I was planning. But it was okay, as the tour I had in mind to take was in the afternoon. I had breakfast and went towards the small square where they do these tours to ask if it was possible to do it in that very afternoon. On the way, I took a small alley that was going straight to the square, it was 10.30 am and although there were loads of people around, just at that time there was no one in this alley. A car passed by and stopped at my side to ask me for some directions in Farsi. I am used to get by Iranian and most of the people that see me in the street and approach me, do it in Farsi because they mistake me. I immediately answered him with “sorry, I am sorry” and he realised I was a foreigner. He continued his way, but then stopped the car a few metres further up and got off the car. As the alley was very narrow, I had very limited space to keep my way and go to between the car and the wall through a very reduced space. In the meantime, he went to the front of his car and waited me there. I thought he was going to ask me again because he kept holding his phone on his hand, as if he was looking for directions. He wasn’t. He came straight to me to touch me and although it took me by surprise and I was scared, I aimed to punch him. He was too tall for me and all I could do was hit him in an arm and then run away from him, afraid of what he could do to me but still cursing and shouting at him and showing him my middle finger. I was proud I took the bull by the horns and took action even though I was afraid, because wanted to avoid the powerless and stupidity feeling I had in the last situation, but when I come to think about it, calmly… it could have got much worse than that. And I have no idea how “protected” I am when I take action to stop a man from doing anything.

I have learnt not to take decisions when the topic is hot. I know myself, I am a temperamental person and I tend to get carried away by my feelings. Most of the times, when the feelings are not positive, I haven’t got a positive result. But this time, this time wasn’t the first one and I had already decided to get out of Isfahan and also from Shiraz and started going North and speeding up to leave the country a bit earlier than planned. That was already decided. In my head, I had Kashan as the next step, a city quite close to Tehran with interesting traditional houses I wanted to visit. But, was it really worth it?

I like to think of myself as a powerful person. A woman with character, yes. Not afraid of anything, not afraid of taking on the world. I threw myself to the world and started a journey where I could have been scared at times, yes. But not by people. I have never been scared by people, all the opposite. I have given myself the pleasure of showing people how not dangerous the world is. I have found myself trusting people instantly, without asking why. I have come to realise that people is generally good and have a good heart.

I feel this country is getting the worse out of me. It has made start distrusting everyone. Especially every man. It is also making me feel mostly bad. Why should I continue here? What do I have to show the world? Is it not the case that this trip is about me and entirely me? That I was going to move only following my feelings.

Anyways, and thoughts apart, I put up with it, with the feeling that at least I hit him and stood up. Then, once organising the tour I realised it was not going to happen and I visited some water reservoir where there hold some fighting but not just at that exact time. The guy at the entrance was trying to be very helpful and show me around, but he kept touching me to lead me because his English was just not good and I felt a bit violent after the incident earlier that  morning. He invited me to come back at 5pm and see the fighting and I felt inclined to leave and come back by then. Plus, he ensured me I didn’t have to pay the ticket again.

At my way back to the hostel, everything was okay until I had a couple of guys in a motorbike talking in Farsi to me. I just kept going my way, completely ignoring them. But they had to come back and keep saying something, so I answered clearly annoyed: No Farsi, no Farsi! And they were really really surprised and even kind of blushed when they realised I was a foreigner, as if they couldn’t believe it and then they left. I was happy to go back to the sanctuary that the hostel was by then.

Back to the hostel, I met these 3 girls travelling together from Sweden. They were living there, and they were Chinese, Iraqi and Iranian. I just asked them to join me in the day trip tour I wanted to do, as I needed people to make it and it seemed it was not going to happen and they just were happy to join! Great! Things calmed down and close to 5pm, I decided to go to enjoy this thing back to the water reservoir. I was expecting some kind of fighting but nothing like that. It was some training at the rhythm of a drum and a man singing at the same time. Some curious thing to see, enjoyable anyway!

And when I thought the day would be over because there was not much more to do, I found myself in a car with these three lovely girls in the hostel to go to the Silence Towers. Some towers built in the middle of nowhere to bring the dead bodies of the Zoroastrian people, this new religion I am learning about. The landscape over there was the coolest thing, it was deserted, surrounded by these light brown mountains and there was a settlement of mud houses at the feet of the mountains where the two silence towers were situated. On the top, we got to enjoy a beautiful Iranian sunset.

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Towers of silence

I got to find out that the problems I am facing here are kind of normal in this area and also, that precisely because I look like Iranian my situation is worse, because I don’t get the kind and respectful treatment that the foreigners get but the treatment the locals get. “My problem” is to look Iranian to them. If it is the case that I have a problem, because I honestly think I am not the problem and I have embraced the rules and the customs here.

The next day would be my last day in Yazd and my last day of proper tourism in Iran, probably. I had this tour with these girls and we had a great time visiting an old inhabited town made entirely of mud. They didn’t know that if you cook the mud in an oven it gets more resistant! The town was fantastic, offering great views as it was all empty and you could explore all the houses and even get to the rooftops.

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Kharanaq, unhabited mud town to explore!

The next thing we visited was a Zoroastrian temple on the top of a mountain and with the “eternal fire” (how eternal? because I have seen a few eternal fires). Anyways, it was cool to know a bit more of this people and to learn they are a minority totally integrated in the country with lots of similarities with the Muslim religion. It was interesting and we continued our visit to some other place where ice was built and kept inside a building with a vault and 3 metres width walls! Wow! Lastly, we visited a complex where the camels’ caravans were stopping while in the Silk Road. The day was tough, as it had been hot but really worth it.

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Where they were unloading the camels

At the back of the hostel, more bad news: I was trying to plan my getaway from Iran, starting off getting the f*ck out to Tehran, but my host there would not be there. She invited me to a nearby town where she would be at the North. I just didn’t feel like giving any more opportunities, as much as I love a local invitation and declined. The next step was Azerbaijan. Or at least that’s what I had in my head, because when I started looking at the online visa I realised I couldn’t get it. It was supposed to be an easy and straight forward process, but Ramadan is finishing and they are considering the next days as holidays, which adding up with the weekend in between meant that there were not 3 working days to process it any soon and I would have to be waiting for it almost for a week! I couldn’t stay in Iran for that long. And just 3 days later than that I had my flight to Baku anyways, so no, no way! I would have to make a new plan, again. But first things first: getting out of Yazd for a start!

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