The bus trip to Yazd was uneventful. I slept most of the way. I arrived late in the afternoon. The back packer hostel is clean, central and incredibly friendly staff. Dropped my gear, hot shower and change, and time to explore. Tonight at a quarter to eight is the beginning of NoRuz. I first went for a walk. A shame it went dark so fast. So not too much wandering around. The hostel is next to the amazing Amir Chakhmaq Mosque Complex. An absolute central location. All the places of interest are just in walking distance. Tonight is the night, the night of the beginning of spring. The Persian new year. At exactly 8.45 and 22 seconds, or at least something like that. Each year the date and the time changes.
I wandered around, met some nice people who spoke English. So I chatted away, listen to the blah, blah, blah of the imam at the mosque. A big television screen was set up and slowly, slowly the square filled up with people. The great moment came while I was in the middle of eating a delicious Yazd ice cream! On the screen fire works erupted. People cheered, and more blah, blah, blah, from the imam. And that was it! It was finished! No dancing, no music, just religious propaganda. My new friend, Milad, told me he was an atheist and didn’t believe in all this waffle. The more I speak to young people, the more I hear this! The big dream, would you believe, is to go to America! Of all places!
After a decent amount of time I went back to the hostel, where the NoRuz was celebrated with lots of tea and food, of course! By twelve o’ clock I had enough of it all, and went to bed! Tomorrow I have to try to get to Dasthekhak, a small village near Zarand, which is a bigger village near Kerman!
As it is the first day of the new year, there were no buses going, even though my host had assured me there would be buses! Sanjay, the lovely young owner of the backpackers hostel, made a plan! Go to Imam Ali square first, yes bus, no problem, no bus, go to terminal. At terminal, ask for bus to Zarand, yes bus, no problem! No bus, ask for the bus to Kerman! At Kerman ask for a bus to Zarand! Yes bus, no problem! No bus, BIG problem! Catch a taxi from Kerman to Dasthekhak, cost of the hundred kilometre journey? A$20 ! Expensive? For Iran, yes, for Australians? No!
I arrived at Dashekhak at six o’clock in the evening. The taxi driver told me this is Hamid’s house! Okay, I went into the courtyard, knocked on the door, said hello to every one, had a cup of tea, lots of delicious biscuits. The house was full of visitors. Finally I asked the man who spoke English, if he was Hamid! Eh, NO! I walked into the neighbours house! I was so incredibly embarrassed.although they all thought it was lovely! I had to ring Hamid, who send his wife, to come and collect me! “Why didn’t you ring”, he asked. Well, I thought the taxi driver knew Hamid! What do I know? Duh! At 8.30 pm a lovely dinner was served and I met Anna, from Amsterdam, and Sef, from Switzerland. An early night was necessary, tomorrow Sef and I are going to see some villages, and than lunch at Fahima, Hamid’s wife, family for lunch. Delicious food was put in front of us. Mainly chicken dishes, with a delicious pommy granite sauce. Hamid told a funny story, that the first French tourist he had was vegetarian! Hamid thought it was a place in France! He had to learn to adapt a few dishes to NO meat dishes.
The second day on the homestay I wanted to spend wandering the village! This was NOT possible as a lone woman was raped and assaulted very early on, and Hamid had much problems with the police. Anna told me this story. Hamid was very vague about this. Sef, the Swiss guy left early, rather upset or worried about his bus. To the extent that he refused to pay the taxi driver! Strange ways of dealing with stress! I had a lovely quiet day. Nurturing my knee, rubbing lots of my daughter’s wonder cream in it and putting the leg up on a pile of cushions. I have noticed it plays up more when I have climbed a lot, or taken too many stairs. My heart and mind are only eighteen, it is the body which is falling apart. I have decided that my three day stay in Dubai will be a major nurturing experience! Hot baths and resting for at least two days. One day sightseeing!
Saturday we, two new Dutch girls had arrived, went to a small village, that was damaged in the earthquake of 1968 of the five hundred people who lived there, two hundred and fifty died. Over fifty percent. Hamid took us to the source of the water. All very interesting, all involved a lot of climbing. In the afternoon Fatimah gave cooking lessons, I like eating, not that interested in cooking. The girls asked lots of deep questions, about the oppression of women in Iran. Since Fahima is in charge in the home she could not imagine what the girls were talking about! She works so hard, from early morning to late at night.
It was an interesting evening, but by ten o’ clock at night I am no longer hungry. I had to get up early as my bus from Zarand, which should only take three hours, was leaving at seven am. Of course it took four hours. Still after a hot shower at the hostel, change of clothes, I was ready to hit the town! Visited a few old houses, the famous mosque, in which I had to wear an impromptu nylon piece of cloth as a chador. Useless bloody thing, every time I looked up the thing would slip down. Many women were willing to help with the appropriate way to hold it. I gave up in the end. It was hot, slippery and I couldn’t deal with it. I did a lot of wandering through the bazar, and little side streets. I was amazed at the amount of Iranian tourists in town, still part of NoRuz. Not many foreigners though.
Last day in Yazd I needed a pharmacist as I am out of sleeping tablets and painkillers, while still in a lot of pain, especially at night. Nuisance! I also bought a lovely cool top to wear in Dubai where the temperature is in the mid thirties. This needed a matching scarf, so it left me just a tad short of money. Need to pay for the taxies to hotels, bus terminal and also a taxi to the airport! So needed to change a bit of money, last lot. Couldn’t find the money changer place, decided to wander the back streets and Lo and behold who would I bump into? The Australian I met in Shiraz! It is a small world after all! We had a coffee and Bob, knew a few places of interest. So wandering together in searched of this allusive money changer. Backwards and forwards we went. Finally we asked a man, who took money out of the bank for me to change over. Since I had no idea of the exchange rates for euros, which I haven’t changed before, I am sure the exchange was in his favour. Not that this matters.
I shouted Bob some lunch, at a lovely kebab place. Dirt cheap. I think a huge meal with three drinks came to five dollars! Then it was time to go back to the hostel, where I had hoped to shower and changed, which I didn’t have the energy to do. Feeling rather sad, only one night left! Then tomorrow Dubai and the next stage of my adventure. Still haven’t book any accommodation in Bishkek yet. Will do that in Dubai. I am planning to do two weeks of Russian studies. See how that goes. Will write down all the Farsi I know, and get a Lonely Planet Farsi phrase book. The people appreciate it so much if you attempt to speak their language. Okay, another six hours on the evening bus, back to Shiraz.
Ah, life is good!!