As soon as our friends found out that our next destination was Iran, the questioning started.-Are you mad? From all the countries… There is a war there…. You’ll be blown up by… and so on and so forthWell, I am very used to this. So very used. Before Tanzania I was announced that I was going to be eaten by crocodiles, in Mexico the drug dealers were set to hunt me, in Russia the corruption was going to hit me in the face and now Iran. Fortunately I learnt to step through the hologram and look behind.
Of course I was never introduced to a crocodile, a drug dealer or a corrupted policeman and my memories about Tanzania, Mexico and Russia are that these countries are populated by kind and welcoming people and that it was a privilege to go there and meet them.
My first encounter with Iranians, so to speak, excluding the airport staff, began on the mountain of Damavand. Once we pegged our tent, me and my daughter went to the new refuge, at Camp 3 to talk to those people. At the beginning we were asked to pay the tax for climbing, pay for the water that we needed and that’s it. At the end, after explaining to them that we there on official business and that we were going to attempt the ascent by ourselves things changed completely. Not only that they stopped mentioning the tax and we were offered bottles of water but also we were approached by an Iranian guide who offered us free guiding to the top. He was going to lead a group of Germans and told us that we can follow them if we can come back at 5 o’clock in the morning.
Well, never something like this ever happened to me. I am sure that, you, friends used to high mountains, understand what I mean. This was the way that gentleman was earning his bread, and he offered to do it for free. Not only this, but all the time on the mountain he kept an eye on us, waiting for us and making sure we were OK.
I think that this description shows a little bit the Iranian mentality. Always ready to help, always ready to do some extras for the foreigner. Thank you, Mr. Iranian Guide. I hope you will read this article.
Still, I had in mind the images from “Never without my daughter” and I was extremely curios about how exactly they were going to be. So I paid much attention to women.
Well, first thing that I realized was that the ones wearing the chador were just a small minority in comparison with the ones that were wearing the regular veil. The vast majority were looking very beautiful, the veil looked extremely natural on their heads and also it was worn in a very detached way.
In the same time I never saw the much discussed situation of the woman walking behind the man and carrying bags of groceries back home.
For me everything looked just normal. In the same spirit of comparing things conveyed to us and the reality, I paid special attention every time I heard the call of the muezzin from the many mosques of the cities. People kept carrying on with their activity. And more than this, I even liked it. Every time I was hearing it, I just stopped and sat down to impregnate myself with that feeling of unreality. I was in Iran. And I was enjoying it.
I was so impressed also by their tolerance and goodwill. At one moment we were crawling on the streets of Yazd. We did not consider things properly and decided to walk all daylong the streets of Yazd without any accommodation and by evening take the bus back to Teheran. But we forgot that the city was situated in the middle of the desert. So by midday, at 45 degrees, the Marcu family was crawling on the streets of Yazd trying not to melt and stay alive.
We were saluted by everybody, stopped now and then by strangers that just wanted to talk a little bit to us. And I was thinking: Please God, make one of these people invite us to his home. We have to lie down and sleep for a while.
And then I noticed a gorgeous looking mosque and we headed in its direction to have a better look.There was a man in front of the gate. He saw us, saw how tired we were looking and without a word gently pushed us toward the mosque. He made us enter inside. We left our backpacks and shoes by the door and stepped in. It was cool inside. And silent. And extremely beautiful.
The man showed up again, carrying our luggage and shoes, set them down and indicated to us that we can lie down and sleep. Everything without a word. My prayers were answered.
Alexandra and Dana fell asleep instantly.
I could not sleep. I was so touched by what had just happened that I could not sleep. I just l lied down there, in the mosque, staring at that blue of Persia, trying to absorb in the magic of the moment.
I stayed like this for two hours. People were passing by looking at us and sometimes saluting me with a silent wave. Everything was so natural. It was just natural to have 3 persons of a different faith resting there. Because we were just 3 tired persons who were offered shelter in a mosque.
Tolerance. And understanding. And kindness.
I consider a privilege the fact that we could go there, there we could have a glimpse of this fabulous country, Iran. And I am grateful that I could meet all this people.
We will go back one day. And maybe we will take friends with us, friends that are willing to see beyond the curtain.