Good-bye Iran. One month of generous and dogged hospitality is coming to an end. Off we go to Turkey where I suppose we will have to start paying for things again. One becomes quickly accustomed to being treated like a VIP. So many people concerned about our welfare, about how we are enjoying Iran.
This could be very very good but sometimes overwhelming. Like a few nights ago when all we wanted was to set up our tent and to go to sleep. We found a place near the Aras River reservoir. It was windy, nearby bushes hummed with tiny flies and an anthole swarmed with enormous ants. The flies stayed put in their respective bushes. Angel put a small rock over the anthole. The ants quickly made another hole, but the rock kept them thinking and they left us alone. Unlike a local fisherman who drove up in a battered ute. When he realised that we did not understand Farsi or Turkish, he proceeded to pantomime various threats to our comfort and safety. The flies and ants would bite us. the wind was too strong, it was going to rain, the Azerbaijanis would start shooting at us from across the reservoir. We said we would move to placate him but our hearts were not in it, and we only made it 100m. The only way to get him to leave us alone was for me to take off my headscarf - this strategy can always be used as a last resort.
So we are looking forward to being a little less interesting to the locals. I am also looking forward to reclaiming my arms, legs and hair...giving these body parts a litte more airtime. And having men address me in the street rather than walk, drive, ride their motorbikes right past me to talk to Angel. Talking to me, looking at me, or in any way affirming my existence is disrespectful. Hopefully less disrespectful in Turkey. (Some Iranian men were able to break the mould - all power to them!)
Goodbye to Iran's wonderful history, goodbye to this transit region for so many travellers on the Silk Road, this land of magnificent curvy architecture and deep blue inscriptions, of eye-poppingly exquisite rugs and cinnamon and saffron tea. And goodbye to gender apartheid...May one day black headscarfs and chadors be toppled as symbols that a girl is not a whore, and may more and more girls take their rightful, colourful place in a country so steeped in colour.
Hoda'afez Iran, and thank you so much for your amazing hospitality.