10. Go with the flow.
Goal oriented, Result driven, Planning focused; these would probably be some of the words you would find on both of our resumes. And being Dutchies, it’s in our culture to be efficient, in control and time driven. Well, these are definitely not the characteristics you need for traveling through Iran. What you need is the opposite; go with the flow, take your time and accept the fact that you often haven’t got a clue what is about to happen. And hey, things just happen, not perse for any reason. Where we Dutchies always feel there is a lack of time, Iranian people see time as something endless- it is always there.
After our Lut desert adventure, we decide to drive to Shiraz. The fifth most populous city in Iran, and – among other things- famous for the Nasir al- Mulk Mosque and the garden and tomb of the Iranian poet Hafez. It is quite a culture shock; from off-road desert life, we jump into a city trip (it’s an interesting feeling; we’ve both been living in cities for 20 years, but since/ while traveling we evidently prefer rural area’s). Although we have to adapt, we also enjoy the benefits of city life; good restaurants, even better coffee and beautiful architecture. But after a few nights we decide to hit the road again; visiting the impressive Persepolis and off-roading through the Zagros mountains!
Driving through the Zagros mountains we come across the small village Qhalat, also named as ‘Little Amsterdam’ – we’ll leave open the question why. From our Lut desert guide Ali we received the number of a guy living there, so we decide to text him. Not having a clue for what reason Ali recommended him but hey, let’s see. The guy- Ramin – responses quickly, picks us up at a bar and – without really saying something- takes us with him to his house. Why does he show his house? What are we going to do? We haven’t got a clue. Ramin appears to be a musician and plays some beautiful music for us in his living room. Then 2 Iranian backpackers show up and join us for the music. We sometimes look to each other: do you have any idea what the plan is? Nope. Ok, let’s see.
Ramin asks if we want to stay for the night. It’s cold and dark outside, warm and cosy inside so sure why not! Two local man show up and join our little get-together. Maybe, we say to each other, there is no plan. We just hang out, with some random people, at a random place. To make ourselves useful we cook dinner for the group. It’s nice to be able to contribute to this random gathering (or to have a goal after all?). We play and listen to music till late in the evening, share new music and just enjoy the good atmosphere.
When we wake up, we take a stroll through the village with the group and then hit the road again. Not without the promise to watch Ramin’s concert that night in Shiraz. So that night the group get’s together again in a super hipster bar and we enjoy a good jazz concert of Ramin and his band. There was no plan when we sent him an app the day before, and there still is none, but we just step from one experience into the other. And it feels quite good.
The next day we drive to the Persian Gulf. After a few hours driving we step out of the car; warm air! What a present after many cold, even freezing, nights. We find a bar where we can park via iOverlander and with our engine still on the owner of the bar runs to us saying: “ WELCOME HOME!! You are at home my friends”. Wow, what a welcome. We can park our car in front of the bar and walk in; 3 other French overlanders are there as well and the bar is a super nice, European looking venue, chill area’s, film corner and a kitchen/bar we can use as much as we like. At first we don’t understand it; why would he open his bar for us? Where are the customers? It appears that it is a private member club- only good friends of Farshid (the owner) can drop in, and he just really enjoys the company of travellers.
We arrived there to stay for 1 night, later plan to leave after 4, but due to the rain re-plan this changes to 5 and end up staying 6. It indeed feels like home. It also feels like being student again; living together with a bunch of fun people just doing fun stuff. Farshid makes delicious cookies and shakes every morning, takes the guys out to a gym at the beach, we grill fresh fish, the French cook delicious French cakes & crepes and we enjoy a Dutch bike ride along the coast. In the evening we play games, watch movies and enjoy nice chats with our French friends, Farshid and his friends. The days just crawl by and we don’t even notice.
A few of Farshids friends are pianist and invite us for a night at the piano institute. We go there and enjoy some beautiful music performances. And as an extra surprise we get V.I.P tickets for an Iranian concert and enjoy traditional music and dancing. Again – like we experienced everywhere in Iran- the people find it super important that we have a good experience and that we understand that the media image of Iran is not how it is in real life among the people. We already experienced that from the moment we entered Iran, but stay surprised about the genuine selfless hospitality of the people.
The last few weeks we didn’t have a plan; things just happened. No goals, no next steps, no control. Where in the first weeks of our travel we kind of ‘rushed’, we are now slowing down. We planned to be in Oman for Christmas, but are still enjoying Iran too much. So we decided to celebrate Christmas with our French friends in the South of Iran, visit the island of Hormuz and then take the ferry to Oman.
At the moment of writing we are wild camping at the Persian Gulf a few days. Beautiful – Greece style- bays, no internet and hardly any people. Time for books again and some beach gym – working on the many many many nice Iranian cookies & French crepes 🙂 For now: we wish you a Merry Christmas!
Nb: we’ve posted the first part of our Iranian photo’s