Could there be a hotter topic right now than the nuclear talks between the US and Iran?! What a time in history to visit this fascinating, yet hugely misunderstood country.  But we were there, we heard the people in the streets, the honking of the horns and the firecrackers being set off as the news unfolded of the framework deal moving forward in a positive direction.

Misconceptions

There is a BIG fat misconception floating around out there in this vast world of ours, perpetuated by the mass media, which is that the Iranian people hate America.  It could not be further from the truth.  We just spent 3 weeks in Iran and I was treated like a rock star.  I lost count of how many people approached me and asked where I was from, or if they could not speak English they would ask Abi – or another member of our group – where is she from and can I say hello to her.

King of Smiles

I had been told by other travelers that this would happen, but I could not have imagined just how often it actually did happen.  People wanted to take their picture with me.  They wanted to just say hello, or ask me to deliver the message to America, that Iranians love America.  One little girl had never seen an American and her mother said she was so happy to take her picture with me.  A beautiful young teenage girl interviewed me for her English communication class.  And a lovely couple visiting Persepolis asked if I would take a picture with their baby boy, whose name was Parham, which translates to king of smiles.

Iran

This beautiful young girl interviewed me for her English communication class.

Iran

My sweet little friend, Parham, who giggled when I tickled his bare feet. We were visiting Persepolis a UNESCO world heritage site and this lovely man just wanted to speak to me in English. p.s. It was a constant struggle to keep that damn scarf on my head!

Travel to Iran

It’s not like I didn’t know the Iranian people are kind, generous and hospitable beyond words; after all, I’ve been married to an Iranian man for the better part of my life.  But it still took me 20 years to make the decision to travel to Iran.  Good things are worth waiting for and I knew I had to wait until the time was right.  It had been 10 years since Abi’s last visit with his family and since we were headed across the pond anyway, we made the decision to take a side trip to Iran.  I decided I was ready.

Iman Square - UNESCO World Heritage site

Imam Square, Isfahan – UNESCO World Heritage site

Language Barriers

I can truthfully tell you it was an incredible experience on so many levels.  It was not always easy, sometimes it was downright challenging but not for the reasons you might think. I never felt anything but safe.  And that’s the absolute truth.  I was always surrounded by family, but even with that, I never once had a sense of fear for my well-being. One of the biggest challenges for me was the language barrier.  I do not speak Farsi and most of our family members do not speak English, although several members of the younger generation – our son’s cousins – do speak English at various degrees of fluency and they were my translators.

Just a handful of Abi's huge extended family. You could not ask to spend time with more hospitable people.

Just a handful of Abi’s huge extended family. You could not ask to spend time with more hospitable people.

Road Trip!

While in Iran we took a 5-day road trip from Tehran to Isfahan and Shiraz, and on the way back we stayed overnight in Kashan before returning to Tehran.  It was a whirlwind trip and my head is still spinning, but oh my, what we saw! Do you know there are 17 UNESCO world heritage sites in Iran?  We saw 5 of them!

An historical home in Kashan. The legend tells us that a suitor wanted to marry a young woman. Her father told him that if he could build a home as nice as his, then he could marry his daughter. The suitor went out and built a home bigger and better and sure enough, he married the girl.

An historical home in Kashan. The legend tells us that a suitor wanted to marry a young woman. Her father told him that if he could build a home as nice as his, then he could marry his daughter. The suitor went out and built a  bigger and better home and sure enough, he got the girl.

Censorship in Iran

So why didn’t I publish the blog while in Iran?  Simple. Because Iran’s internet is censored, intermittent and painfully slow. Yes, there are ways to get around the censorship, but for practical and familial reasons we decided it would be best to just step away from the blog and social media while traveling in Iran.

And truth be told I’m thankful we made that decision because a couple of blog posts would be an injustice to the experience.  I have to give it some serious processing time before I put fingers to keyboard. And even then I’m not sure what format it will take.  Maybe I’ll walk across Spain and give it some thought.

Me and the boys at the Agha Bozorg Mosque - built in the late 18th century - in Kashan.

Me and the boys at the Agha Bozorg Mosque – built in the late 18th century – in Kashan.

Quite the Adventure

So we’re back in Europe and currently making our way to the border of France and Spain, via Frankfurt, Paris and Bayonne. To bring you up to date, since leaving home on March 1, we were sick in Prague, we walked the path of Bavarian history and we just spent 3 weeks in Iran, the cradle of civilization.  It’s been quite the adventure!

While dining in a restaurant in Shiraz, which was a beautifully restored bath house, our server places these two flags on the table. Don't tell me the Iranian people hate Americans.

While dining in a restaurant in Isfahan, which was a beautifully restored centuries old bath house, our server placed these two flags on the table. Don’t tell me the Iranian people hate Americans.

Buen Camino

We start walking the Camino this coming Sunday, April 12, but somehow my backpack gained about 10 pounds while sitting in a closet for the past 3 weeks!  What the hell?!  But anyway, I’m thinking some of you might have questions about traveling in Iran.  I would love to hear your questions and comments, and I will do my best to answer them.

 For now though, Buen Camino!

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