Shiraz is a famous -and it so happens, my favorite- grape variety and, mmm, I so much wanted a glass right now. The variety comes from -guess where- Shiraz, thanks to the revolution the wine is not produced anymore, commercially at least. My wishes for a glass of illegal juice did not materialise, but that was not the only thing that disappointed me in Shiraz. I did not quite fancy the city, too much traffic, too much pollution, too much “hallo, I love you”. Just a bit too much.
Persepolis, however, did worth the effort and although my fingers are almost frozen now, it also worths the effort of telling you. We met a German couple that was travelling together with their 4-month old son, on a backpacker style travelling, really admiring people. The little one, little did he care about Persepolis, Necropolis, or any other -polis the ancient greeks burnt, tortured or actively aided in its demise one way or another. The school that was visiting, though (girls) were thoroughly amused, seeing the father, with a marsupial profile, keeping the baby warm inside his fleece. He looked quite odd, indeed a bit as pregnant man, and I only wish I will live to see this coming true. In any case, Persepolis was great. And naturally, many of the pieces are in Louvre and British Museum to be “protected and preserved”. The Arabs had attacked the palaces and the mullahs had send soldiers to destroy the site, believing it was temple of worship on multiple deities. Thus most of the faces of the Persian and Median soldiers depicted are thoroughly scrapped. Which reminds me of the ancient greek statues, most of them breastless and dickless, since they were insulting the morals of the early (and not only) christians, or the two huge Buddhas in Afganistan. Ah well, what’s the point of teaching history if you don’t learn from it?
Yes, traveling, if not a soul cleansing experience, is a the way of getting inspired and meeting inspiring people. I met these two Germans, who, themselves, they met on the way, one on a BMW from Sweden, the other on a Yamaha from Germany. Final destination, India. They drove all the way, excluding the ferry Italy-Greece, and they advise it. No problem, the carnet de passage worked fine and they were traveling with a tent, although it wasn’t much of use because they’ve been sleeping in cheap hotels. They were picked by a bunch of schoolgirls, all with the same jacket -although with different fake brands- who were insisting on taking pictures all together and one-by-one and in every possible configuration. If nothing else, their popularity this time brought the girls; the BMW guy commented on mostly having to tolerate toothless smelling old men for those moments of immortality.
Back to Shiraz, we decided to visit the bazaar, which was nice, and the carpets are quite different from Esfahan, because they are more focused in the nomadic patterns. And the gardens. Ah the gardens, are so nice. Unfortunately, the tired traveler will soon find out that there are not many teahouses or coffeeshops, thanks -again- to the revolution that is not so keen on seeing people socialising in confined spaces. Who knows, you might ends up discussing something without the presence of agents. We were happy to find the signposted teahouse in the centre of the bazaar, with pretty western atmosphere, although it was full of locals. Very gezellig place, as the dutch would say.
But it doesn’t only take the lack of coffeechops, the lack of coziness, the lack of westernized manners, the subtly constant harrassement, the cold, the pollution, the queue jumping, the taxi drivers, the traffic, the endless kebabs, the need for checking the bills before paying or the obvious segregation to exhaust you physically and naturally, psychologically. It also takes a long and rushed bus drive from Shiraz to Yazd, in a packed Volvo bus, with ultra loud live music on the screens and a sleeping beauty for travel companion. I managed to become popular when I requested for the music volume to be lowered. It was snowing outside, the bus was driving against the thick snowflakes, and the mountains were already white. It was nice and warm inside,with this bit of stale air of the unanimous breathing, all together, known-unknowns, breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out. And after some 1500km I missed home. It was getting dark outside, Laia was sleeping, often jumping awake, thinking that her headscarf had revealed here hair and the police would either whip her or deport her, the TV screens were showing a post-revolution movie, where the woman would tight the shoe-laces of her husband as a sign of love and the bus was devouring kilometers. It was still a long way to Yazd. A long and cold way. A long and cold and long and cold way.