Between Shiraz and Yazd, there is a small city called Safashar. We stopped there to meet Fatma. She’s an Iranian mother, entrepreneur, English teacher and Iran lover. She made us live the life of Safashar inhabitants for a few days and we loved it!
Fatma welcomed us like family. We lived in her house and met a lot of wonderful people thanks to her. First we had the chance to spend some time with her students learning English. In Iran, it’s difficult for people to learn English at school as the level of teachers is not very high. So a lot of students take side classes of English in specalized schools. It was a very enriching experience for us to talk with the students. They asked us a lot of questions about our life in France. They were very curious about how Alex and I met, how Alex proposed to me, what movies and music we like, how I felt about the head scarf, what it feels for us to “have homosexual people in our country” (in Iran being homosexual is illegal)… Some questions were not easy to answer. We tried our best to explain to them our differences and we had a great time together!
One night, we visited the family of Fatma’s husband in the countryside and had a great dinner with them. We ate so much in Safashar! Generally we don’t eat a lot and we share one plate for two. But in Iran, when you’re invited, it’s a must to honour the meals and eat when your host fills your plate again and again!
We also had the chance to be in Safashar during the celebration of the birth of the 12th Imam. The 12th Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdî, is the last Imam for the Shiite Muslims. He was born in 879 in Irak but was “occulted”, meaning he disappeared. Shiites think he is not dead and will come back to bring peace and justice for them. Lots of celebrations were held in Safashar for his birthday. We were able to go to the mosque and attend a ceremony with beautiful songs.
I also attended to a celebration only for women in the house of a friend of Fatma. About fifty women were sitting on the floor, listening the songs of a religious singer. When the celebration was over, each of us received some food to bring back home. At night, men gathered in the main city square to do some kind of fights. While some men played music, two men would go in the middle of a circle made by the others and they would fight with a wood stick!
Our stay in Safashar was really a total immersion in Iranian life and culture. And if you want to live the same, feel free to contact us as Fatma would be happy to meet other travellers!