You do know that I will run out of Iranian puns don’t you ?.
Kashan is home to one of the oldest archaeological sites in this part of the world. Tappe ye-Seyalk has thrown up pottery shards dating back to 7000 BC. If it’s red and black it dates to then whilst if it’s black and white then it dates from a thousand years later. When Peter, our leader, described it, I fear he gave the site rather more glamour than it deserved. I imagined some well laid out and identifiable city, I suppose. What I got was the municipal dump.
Basically it’s a mound, quite a big mound, of dirt, muddy, grey brown dirt with absolutely no distinguishing features on this particular day other than an exuberant Peter and a group of bemused tourists!. I did find some pottery though.
Our road led to Yazd. I don’t think I have ever travelled on such a straight road as it cut its way through the valley floor. A blazing sun had reduced most of my companions to somnolence and gentle snores punctuated the still air. However, they were rudely awoken when our estimable driver fell asleep at the wheel and we slammed over a sleeping policeman and the jolt sent us and our belongings into the air.
We stopped in the nearest town and or driver was despatched to the local mosque to rest his weary head for a few hours. Many of our group followed suit. But resting in the middle of the day, in a foreign country, seems alien to me so, fortified with cooling grape juice and biscuits, I went for a wander in the mosque.
As I was admiring the typically wonderful tiles with which these mosques are decorated, an elderly gentleman dressed in cream, flowing robes, approached me. He was the Imam and this was his mosque. He offered to show me around and I was delighted to accept his offer. He showed me the architectural details, explaining the significance of the tiles and where they had come from. He opened a small door and led me underground to what he described as the Winter mosque where everyone gathered for prayers when it became too cold to pray outside. He showed me both the male and female sections and a display of highly decorated prayer mats before walking me back to the group (and one refreshed driver), shaking me warmly by the hand and disappearing into the cool shadows.
Yazd was reached by early evening and we made a brief detour to visit a Zoriastrian fire temple. Now, I don’t know how this is measured but, apparently, Zoroastrianism is the worlds smallest organised religion with around 300’000 adherents. I don’t know who draws the line between organised and disorganised religion. God knows, or, in this case, perhaps he doesn’t.
There’s not a great deal to Yazd. It has a bazaar. They all have bazaars. It has a mosque. They all have mosques. It has restaurants that give you diarrhoea!. They all…well, no, they don’t actually. One or two were suffering but I just felt a bit heavy. So it was time to climb them, there hills. Yes, those over there. The ones with the Towers of Silence on them.
Here, in two now disused towers, the Zoroastrians laid out their dead and let the vultures pick them clean. The skeletons were then pushed into a hole in the centre of each tower. Some people refused to climb up. Did they feel it disrespectful ?. Surely no more or less than visiting a tomb in Egypt ?. For myself I thoroughly enjoyed the climb up and down and the reward was spectacular views over the countryside!.
From Yazd to Kerman, a small, nondescript town with a hotel that, from the outside, was deeply unpromising. Somewhat reminiscent of a motel with standard rooms and dimly lit corridors on a single level it surprised us with roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, English veg and roast potatoes as well as laying on a 50th wedding anniversary cake for the two most venerable members of our party.
As I relaxed and let the belt on my trousers out a notch I looked around myself and pondered how, perhaps even why, in the middle of such an alien country, a country about we knew so little, a chef in a small town, who spoke no English and whose contact with tourists would have been absolutely minimal, had worked tirelessly to bring us the comforts of home. If I’d have been a drinker, or we could have drank, I’d have raised a glass to him!.