I have arrived! In Tehran. As I left Sydney and checked in at the airport, there seemed to be an issue with my visa for Iran! Apparently three days AFTER my visa expired I had an ongoing flight from Dubai. The airline required proof of my ferry trip from Iran to Dubai. Well, duh, I haven’t booked my ferry as yet as there is NO visa payment possible, so NO on line booking possible! Well, according to the lovely lady from Lebanon, I would have to buy a new visa on arrival in Tehran! As my Iranian visa was the most expensive visa EVER, you can imagine my shock at the prospect that it was not going to be valid! Ah well, I’ll see what happens, I thought. If worse comes to the worst I will buy a new visa, it is only money.
The flight was long and exhausting. Met a lovely lady, Dianna from Lebanon. Well, from Sydney really. I watched quite a few movies and arrived in Abu Dhabi, were I was singled out, and put in the naughty corner, as there was something WRONG with my Iranian visa!! My first thought was that the woman in Sydney put a RED flag on my ticket! I had to wait for the manager to arrive, which he or she didn’t do. In the end, I was told I would have to buy an ongoing ticket from Iran to Dubai. I sagely nodded my head and agreed to everything they told me!! Just don’t send me back!!
On arrival in Muscat, my boarding pass was taken from me, and I was told to wait in the corner AGAIN! This time however, there was a big mob of Iranian people, who all asked me what was wrong! As my boarding pass was put through the machine all the red lights started flashing and bells started to ring! by now three young men, who all spoke perfect English all tried to re assure me that all would be well. In the end the man gave me my OWN boarding pass back and said nothing.
You can all imagine how I was by now very concerned about arriving in Tehran!! What if I was send back? All the Iranian people re assured me that I would be fine. On arrival in Tehran my by now two musketeers promised to wait for me to see what would happen at immigration. I was friendly and polite, he salaamed me, I salaamed back, he smiled, I smiled back, he stamped my passport and welcomed me into Iran! Problem? What problem? He didn’t even ASK if I had an ongoing ticket! So all this scare mongering was totally useless.
The first thing, after finding a toilet, was to exchange some money so I could catch a taxi to my hostel in Central Tehran. Well, said the man at the exchange boot, you get much, much better rates in the centre of Iran. I have very high exchange rates! Can you imagine a business in Oz saying, don’t buy from me I am too expensive?? Unbelievable. I also saw that I could buy a SIM card at the airport! My young rescuers bought me my SIM card, PAID for my taxi!! And apologised that they had family commitments and couldn’t drop me off at my hostel! Unbelievable!! We exchanged phone numbers, and they followed me on Instagram!! By the time I reached my hostel one and a half hour later, there was already a message to ask if I had arrived safely! Friendly? It is beyond friendly!! I felt incredibly humbled, by the whole experience. Can you imagine anybody doing this in Australia? Well, I can’t!
When I told the friendly young man at the hostel about my experience with the three musketeers , he nodded his head, as if this was a common experience, and said, welcome to Iran! Iran, I have already fallen in love with the people here! I am not so sure however about the traffic, nor the pollution! Pedestrian’s lives are very, very cheap, I think! I just stand with other people who want to cross the road, make sure those people stand between me and e oncoming traffic and pray that I won’t be run over today! There are no atheists on the streets of Tehran! ( I have difficulties posting photos, here and on Facebook, hope to get this sorted in the near future!)