What didn’t quite fit in the two other reports on Iran are the people we encountered, our interactions with them and the ubiquitous posters. One of the biggest surprises was how warmly we were greeted by the population. Especially teenage school children visiting the same sites we did became friendly very quickly and took as many pictures of us as we did of them. The picture above was taken in Abiyaneh.  We overlaid the photo of a poster showing supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei and president Ahmadinejad. The background for this page shows Imam Khomeini and the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

 

More than once local people walked up to us and said in the most sincere way: “Thank you for visiting our country.” It was very moving.

 

In other Islamic countries we’ve visited (Syria, Jordan, and Tunisia) the general reaction of the people toward us was admiration and love for the American people but frustration with US government foreign policy. In Iran, we never heard anything negative about our government.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We didn’t see many school groups with boys. We’re not sure why. Perhaps they are too unruly to be taken on field trips. This picture was taken in Tehran.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Persepolis we found several groups of school girls that sketched the ruins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A group of school girls also visiting Esfahan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Imam mosque of Esfahan we ran into this bubbly, giggly, friendly group of school girls. Their teacher - in this picture with Yvonne - was initially standoffish. But finally she broke down and posed with Yvonne. You have to imagine lots of laughter and comments being made.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the time we left the Imam mosque, Yvonne had become a good friend of the girls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A group of school girls in Abiyaneh (different, younger and more conservatively dressed than the ones on top of this page).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pictures above and the one on the left show us with locals who like us were visiting the site.

 

A funny little experience happened just before this picture was taken. As the young woman put her arm around Yvonne she inadvertently pulled her headscarf down. Yvonne reacted with a holler and they jumped. They all had a great laugh as they watched her as she tried to hastily pull it back up.

 

 

We encountered these two couples with their children on our hike to Shapur’s cave. They were visiting from the Gulf coast. Initially, the lady with the blue head dress didn’t want to have her picture taken even when encouraged to by her husband. Then she changed her mind and joined the group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met these locals at one of the bridges in Eshahan.

 

 

Below left is Yvonne with a traditionally dressed lady in Abiyaneh. Zoroastrians (non-Islam) have to cover up but can wear this flowery outfit. The fellow on the right walked by us in Esfahan on his way home. He gave Juergen permission to take a picture but insisted that we shared some of his bread – that was still hot. It was delicious.

 

 

 

 

On the right is the Iranian tour guide who met us when we arrived in the Tehran airport at 3 a.m. and took us to the hotel. We joined our regular tour guides later in the morning (we arrived in Tehran a day late because we misconnected in Istanbul).

 

The amazing thing was that we ran into her in several places in Iran.  After seeing her in Yazd, we met her in Persepolis and on a street in Esfahan (right). She was guiding 40 botanists from all over the world. She was very nice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The traditional Persian flat bread being made on the left comes with every meal. The opening of the oven (reminiscent of a tandoori oven) is the hole just to the left of the piece of dough the baker is kneading. They slap the dough on the side of the oven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fellow on the right runs a charming little tea shop in Masuleh.

 

 

Out in the country, the few foreign tourists sometimes get inscrutable looks (below left) or none at all (below right).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A butcher shop. Not much gets thrown away.

 

 

The fellow above left has a carpet shop in Kerman. He only produces huge custom pieces that take months to years to make. An example of a rug and two of the workers are below left. Generally they work on both sides at once. The guy above right was in Isfahan - we thought he had interesting features. The goat herder girl below belonged to a nomadic group that was in the process of relocating their herds. She was very graceful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoying a water pipe. Long ago, this tea house was a famous bath house and has lovely tile.

 

 

 

 

 

The school girls above are sketching the archeological marvels at Persepolis. A few girls on the right made sun shades from their drawing paper.

 

Below is a series of pictures we took from the moving bus throughout the trip. They show mostly women in towns and villages. Yvonne is in one of them. Can you find her?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nomadic people - on the right - wear very colorful clothes. The government requires them to cover up when they come into towns.

 

 

Near Shapur’s cave (see the Ancient Persia section), a bus with women and children stopped and cooled off in the water. We initially were not sure if they minded being photographed. But then, they waved and laughed, so it was ok. Initially they even tried to cross over, but the water was too deep. It was lively and fun, but can you imagine wanting to live like this?

 

 

We were lucky to see a nomadic wedding procession. It was quite a colorful and very noisy affair. The guy with the gun sticking out the window (bottom right) actually shot it repeatedly in the air!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The back of the bus in public transportation is reserved for women.

 

 

Posters (or in the case on the left, paintings of entire facades) are mostly commemorating martyrs and displaying religious or political leaders.

 

Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980 and half a million lives were lost in the ensuing war that lasted for 8 years. The people dying in defense of their country and its Islamic faith are considered martyrs with guaranteed entrance into paradise. One of the symbols of paradise is flowers. Whenever one sees a poster like the one on the left, the person shown is a martyr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other ubiquitous poster displays show clergy or politicians. The clergy pictures are mostly of the founder of the Iranian revolution, the Grand Ayatollah (now Imam) Khomeini and his successor the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei (right and left, respectively).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This wall sort of combines the two themes with a quote by Imam Khomeini:

 

“Our Young folks are the man of martyrdom and heroism”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below are examples of martyrs followed by clergy and politicians

 

 

 

 

Below is a selection of religious and political images (mostly the Ayatollahs and president Ahmadinejad).

 

 

The emergency phone number on the posters below is 113 in Arabic numbers. It’s not fire, ambulance, or police.

It’s a number for reporting suspicious activities…like not being dressed correctly we think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aerobics on Iranian TV.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a poster telling what happens to you if you smoke opium (which is smuggled big time from Afghanistan through Iran to other countries).

 

Drug trafficking is a capital offense in Iran, along with adultery, espionage, armed robbery, homosexuality and apostasy (i.e. conversion from Islam to another religion).

 

 

We sent several emails from Iran. They contain more travel details and if anyone is interested in further reading to experience our Iran learning-curve, click on reports from Iran.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The end.