Yazd

This morning Karin and I arrived in Tabriz around 6am from Tehran. When we got off the bus we forgot a bag on the overhead space. Karin remembered and then chased the leaving bus to fetch the bag. Tomorrow we are back to Turkey. In the meantime, here are my belated notes from Yazd:

Yazd

We arrived at the Silk Road Guesthouse at around 10 pm. The Silk Road is located in the centre of the old town, near the Good Friday Mosque (Mesjid Jameh). The setting is great and the guesthouse courtyard is relaxing place to while away the very hot (45 degree C) afternoons. The restaurant includes a number of Iranian and Indian meals. I looking forward to sampling both cuisines, particularly the Indian, as there is no good Indian food available within a plane flight of Mersin. The vegetables on the first night were very good!

For 10,000 Rial one can sleep on the roof. The view from the roof is great and mosques, water towers and many old buildings are visible.

02 September 2004

Waking up in the hot sun, listening to some awful violin playing by an Iranian guest, I had a drippy nose.

In the morning we walked around the old city. The buildings are largely mud-covered brick. The old city streets are narrow, many too narrow for cars. Motorbikes rule in Yazd. Unfortunately they bring noise and exhaust fumes to the old city.

Did I mention motorbikes rule in Yazd? Waves and waves of the 125cc bikes roar around the old and new sections.

On one obscure corner there was a woman beggar. We gave her 2,000 rials and she was very happy. Similar to the 2,000 rials I gave to an old man in Shiraz for taking a few packets of chewing gum he was selling. The look on his face was priceless.

Many of the old buildings have cooling towers built on top of their roofs. The towers have channels for the wind to go down and cool the interior of the building.

I was absolutely delighted when I saw a juice place in Yazd with fresh mangoes. Although the mango juice contained added sugar (as is the standard for fresh juices in Iran) it still was bliss. My first fresh mango product in almost 18 months!

Mangoes are not grown in Iran and have to be imported. I don’t recall seeing a mango in Turkey. If I did see any mangoes there, they were in poor quality and not worth the exhorbitant price.

That day a couple of hippies left the guesthouse for Afghanistan. I wonder how there trip will turn out…

In the afternoon we entered the Water Museum (10,000 rials – a private museum). This museum explored and detailed the way water was gained in old times through “qanats”, underground channels. As Yazd is located in the desert, water was and still is very important.

My nose continually ran during the day and provided an unwelcome distraction.

Unlike the bazaars in Tabriz, Esfahan and Shiraz, Yazd’s bazaar was not very large or good.

For the afternoon and evening we were with Thomas, a Finnish person of Swedish ethnicity studying in Switzerland. We caught a taxi to the Zoroastrian flame. A flame sacred to Zoroastrians that has kept burning for over 1,000 years and in 3 or 4 different locations.

Another taxi and it was off to the Towers of Silence on the outskirts of Yazd, about 7km from the centre. Here, up until 40 years ago the Zoroastrians used to leave the bodies of their dead on 3 bowl-like constructions at the top of hills. The bodies would then be picked at by birds until all that was left were bones. The sunset and the mountains and city in the distance were very pretty.

A bus and a taxi ride later we were at the train station. The train station has different entrances for men and women with the women entering a curtained area to the right and the men an uncurtained section to the immediate left.

Thomas wanted to catch a train that night to Kerman and we wanted to go the following night to Tehran. Unfortunately, the gorgeous woman at the information booth said both trains were full. A short while later a man came and after some discussion they said we were able to obtain tickets. Thomas’ 2am train ticket to Kerman actually started two towns prior to Yazd! He deciphered this from the ticket with his knowledge of Arabic script. Karin and I were told to return to the train station and pick up our tickets at 7.30pm the the next night prior to the 8.15pm train to Tehran. The station staff had gone way out of their way to help us!

Alighting from our taxi back at the guesthouse we heard some ‘noise’ coming from the Friday Mosque. It sounded different to the usual call to prayer. After some hesitation we entered the half indoor/outdoor mosque. As it is thedesert rain is rarely a problem.

The Imam was chanting, mentioning the name “Reza” (one of Shiite Islam’s 12 sacred Imams) many times. The men were largely sitting at the frontal sides while the women were at the back. We were handed glasses of tea with the customary irregular-shaped ‘cubes’ of sugar on a plate at the side. Like in eastern Turkey, the sugar is meant to be dipped in the tea and then placed in the side of the mouth. As the tea is drunk, the sugar dissolves.

At least one of the men was very emotional and others showed signs. We were not sure of the purpose of the prayers. Thomas and I (not Karin as she is female) handed back the empty tea cups and trays and after several minutes we exited the mosque for the guesthouse.

That evening I ate camel meat balls in gravy with rice. After several discussions and debates between the 3 of us, Thomas left to catch his 2am train and we went to bed.

That night was colder than the previous one and my nose ran liberally.

03 September 2004

Waking up in the morning I had a full-blown cold and I felt miserable. After the 5 ‘sh’: SH**, SHower, SHave, hand waSHing clothes and bruSHing my teeth I was slightly better.

The heat of the day was spent at the guesthouse chatting with Brigitte and Stefan, 2 Austrians currently cycling around the world. They started 26 April from Spitz/Danube, Austria and if all goes well they will cover 46 countries in the next couple of years. Their website is at www.heath-net.com/bikeabenteuer.

Later in the afternoon I spoke to Mum and Dad in Australia. Karin and I then drank another fresh mango juice (this time with less sugar) and bought some local Yazd sweets, one of whom was called ‘baklava’.

Early tomorrow morning we are leaving for Turkey and I will be back in Mersin on Wednesday morning. From there I will write my next post: travelling to Tehran.