On the road, red mountains replace verdant hills. We left Tabriz this morning, after two days in this definitely modern city. We are travelling to the Turkish border, ready to reach a new culture.
Iran was truly an incredible discovery. Far from the austerity one could imagine, we met people smiling, cheerful, always willing to help us. Walking in the street, we often heard on our way some joyful “Welcome to Iran”. Amazing encounters will be engraved in our hearts: Elahe and Hadi, Fatma, Masoud, Shaban and Tara, and all those who took care of us, sometimes in the middle of the street, in a bus, at the restaurant. What has the most surprised us is the strong presence of women, all over the streets (unlike in the Arab countries that we crossed, and even in Pakistan), dressed in black but also in colors with their scarves placed at the top of their skull to demonstrate the uselessness of the obligation to wear it. We thought we would find mostly religious people, but we found people like us: embracing a philosophy and a culture of benevolence, without being obsessed with praying. Iran, its Peugeot 405 cars, its architecture, its dress style made us think of a vintage country but with great optimism and belief in a happy future. The re-election of President Rohani during our stay goes in this direction, even though his powers still remain weak compared to the control of the ultra conservative religious leader Khamenei (“dictatorship” was the word used by a lot of Iranian to tell us about Iran political situation).
From Tabriz, we will remember the fantastic bazaar in which you have to throw yourself like in a labyrinth without expecting to leave quickly. We arrived in Tabriz on the first day of Ramadan. In Iran during Ramadan, you can not eat or drink in the streets, and restaurants only open at 8pm. It was difficult for us. During the day, we ate biscuits in our small hotel room! On the bus to Turkey, we nibbled discreetly our biscuits, trying not to make any noise. Fortunately the law is not so strict in Turkey.
Soon green hills replace dry plains. We’re arriving at the gates of Europe!