This country modified all the ideas we had about Iran before we entered: our knowledge of the Muslim word rooted in our experiences of Turkey and Syria, our dreams of warm weather, our sympathy for the condition of women.
We slowly realized our behaviour was adapted to the last countries we travelled in, but not Iran. It seemed we had to take it all from the beginning, to restart and clear any expectations we could have, even the slightest one. We had to learn once again to live in the present moment, no thoughts about our comforting previous way of doing, no plan about the future. The duality expressed itself with so much intensity; it really challenged us to find our balance in this new environment.
Iran is vast and gigantic at the same time. As we crossed the small village of Sero, we left the abrupt gorge of Kurdistan to enter the boundless mountain ridges of Iran. The valleys became vast endless steppes, only bounded by imposing summits that danced with eagles. One after the other, peaks of over 4’000m high greeted us on our way to Teheran. There, the acme of this kingdom Mount Damavand overlooked the land from its 5’671m.
Vast and Powerful, we had the feeling our energy was expanding to new horizon in these picturesque and gigantic landscapes. Salted lake Orumiyeh was no exception, it spread to the vast wetlands far beyond the white salted crystallisation that covered its verge.
Powerful and freezing… Too glad to have crossed the Kurdish mountain passes, we thought we were over the bitter cold. But, we entered a mountainous land and the road we chose unexpectedly never descended under a thousand meters elevation. From the warm weather we had hoped, we only found snow. And still now 15 mars, it is still snowing. As we cycled on the straight road that took us east, we often found ourselves over 2’000 meter, and sometimes in snowstorms. Moreover a strong wind never stopped blowing and unfortunately it was facing us more than our share. With this weather, the temperature went down far below zero and we had our coldest night by -10°C, preventing us from resting as our sleeping bag where not warm enough. Our lavender also suffered from the cold and it probably definitively froze that night.
Huge… like all the bazaars. We learnt that more than fifty percents of the national trade take place in these bazaars, like the one in Tabriz that expends over seven square kilometres. Enormous and bustled with people, it is a labyrinth of never-ending shops, of ancient caravanserais and of small entries that goes underground where men drink tea and smoke waterpipes. It also showed us the incredible creative work of people that still knows how to work with their hands.
Enormous… like its capital city, Teheran, with its population of over fifteen millions people. We had to cross and navigate in this city for hours in order to reach some embassies. We had to run from one area to the other in order to get our visa for the following months.
Big… like the pride of Iranien people, linked to the past of the Persian civilisation. Unfortunately, our meetings created the best and the worst, generosity and meanness, pushing us sometimes to our limits. The daily plays of refined social codes fascinated us but in the meantime we are still wondering about some of these social rules that are deeply rooted in the society and that are so obscure for us. On the street we met people following never-ending greetings with multiple hugs and questions about the family to very dry and cold exchanges. As we penetrate this world, our experiences diverge taking us to each side of the wide spectrum of emotions. Form the thrill of receiving a full box of Iranian delights to the hurtful feeling of being rejected, as cold, wet and frozen, we were not allowed to put our tent close to a village in the middle of snowstorm. From the warm welcome of a Turkmen family that offered us to stay one night in their loving house, sleeping all together in their unique room to the delicate situation where a young man tried to touch Céline.
And sometimes tough … like some of the rigid social rules of this society and like the enforced Islamic law since the 1979 revolution; where women have to wear not only the veil but also cloths that hide their body, officially the hejab. Having to wear it under risk of arrest, Celine had sympathy for the living conditions of all these women. But she was stupefied, while walking alone in the street of Qazvin, to feel the social pressure that women themselves put on the shoulders of their compatriots. She realized that some of them seemed to legitimate this system and brutally enforced it with their attitudes. These circumstances also create a peculiar atmosphere that floats in the street of the city; it seems sexual energy is everywhere, and this unexpressed and probably unconscious energy takes over. The glances of young men become sometimes unbearable. The political system is sometimes contested and sometimes adulated, but on the faces of Iranian there is always a deep pride of being part of this society, successor of the Persian civilisation. By contesting the American supremacy and the established world, Iran have to deal with an inflation of about 20% that modifies the prices of any goods every six months. And it also compelled us to carry the necessary fund for the next months in cash.
In this context of intricate experiences, meeting someone always takes time, initially to go over the barrier of the social code. Then sometimes, we discover that this relationship brings us to a fantastic exchange of ideas that teach us a little more on this society or to an open and warm-hearted relationship.
Enigmatic country, time will maybe guide us to the vibrant heart of Iran.