Both Laura and Chris here this time. We are in an Internet cafe in a small city called Bijar. In Iran, Internet cafes are called coffeenets, even though there is no coffee in sight. Just a reminder, some popular Internet sites are blocked here, including Facebook and, apparently, Yahoo. So if you want to reach Laura, be sure to use her Gmail address (laura.dawn.beauchamp(at)gmail.com).
Today we visited a site called Takht-e-Soleimon, which was the religious centre of Zoroastrianism for hundreds of years. Zorostrianism was one of the first monotheistic religions, and still has a following here in Iran, even though it is over 3,000 years old. We also climbed a nearby volcano cone, and peered into a deep caldera that was full of cliff swallows and buzzing bees. Yep, a volcano, full of bees. As if a volcano isn’t dangerous enough! We got some cool shots which we will post when we can.
Getting out there was one hell of an ordeal however, involving two taxis, a horde of spectating taxi drivers, and us getting very angry at our first driver in the middle of a roundabout after he drove us two hours in the wrong direction. We don’t think it was an honest mistake, but rather an extortionate one, for in the end we had to pay 150% of what we originally agreed. Luckily our second driver was much better.
We are finding Iran to be frustrating in many ways. On one hand, the people are super friendly and curious about us everywhere we go. Unfortunately, the language barrier is extreme. We can’t read Farsi script, and therefore struggle with even simple things, like recognizing a hotel when we see one. Menus are a complete non-starter, and figuring out prices are an ordeal every time. The money is a challenge. There are, on-average, an extra five or six zeros on every bill. Iranians use rials as their currency, but in vocal exchanges, talk about something called Tomans. A Toman is 10 rials. So, if something costs 10,000 rials ($1), they will ask for 1,000 Tomans. Confused? Us too.
We also only speak a handful of Farsi phrases, although we’re trying to learn more. We haven’t been to any of the bigger cities in the country yet, so haven’t met all that many English speakers. Even our usual standby of wild gesticulations, sound effects, and sign language doesn’t go as far here as usual. On top of it all, Chris can’t stop giving people the thumb’s up gesture, which means something wholly different over here (picture a thumb, going up, and then try to guess which orifice it might represent plugging).
We’re both still getting over our bouts of common traveller’s sickness, so the steady diet of kebabs, coupled with the ever-present squat toilets, have added to our drama.
Anyway, enough whining. We’ll try to take photos for you guys and keep up our cheerfulness just for you. We know how much you’re depending on us. Besides, it’s getting late, and we better return to our $14 hotel room with it’s beds that look like they came from Alcatraz’s closing sale.
Leave us some love in the comments, we could use it.
Chris and Laura