When in Tehran, we had two options to carry on our trip and enter Turkey: go West to the Iranian Kurdistan, a region that was known for the hospitality of Kurdes, or go North to the Caspian Sea, the greenest part of Iran. The name Caspian Sea was attractive to us. We wanted to see this sea that shares its coast with Turkmenistan, Ouzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran.
We took a bus from Tehran to Chalus a small city we had spotted on the coast. The road from Tehran to Chalus was incredible. After the desert, rather flat and dry areas of the centre of Iran, we were surrounded by green mountains.
When we arrived in Chalus, we had no plan at all and we expected to find a little hotel near the seaside. When we got off the bus, we realized there were two other tourists with us, a German man and his nephew, also looking for a place to stay. We decided to share a taxi and explained to the taxi driver to bring us to hotels on the seaside. It looks like the driver didn’t understand anything because he drove us to the seaside but there was nowhere to stay and he started to ask more money to bring us to a hotel. Suddenly a man around 60 years old arrived and spoke to us with a very good English. He said he was happy to help us. We felt we could trust him so we got in his car. He introduced him to us: he was Shaban, director at Chalus Hospital. He invited us to have a cup of tea at his house and when we arrived in his home he immediately added that we could also stay there to sleep. The German guys were not really keen on that idea, but it looked like Shaban was seriously inviting us to his place. So Alex and I said yes for just one night. It was the beginning of five beautiful days with Shaban and his family!
First, Shaban’s wife, Tara, cooked for us a delicious meal! Then Shaban drove us to visit the surroundings of Chalus. Do you know this part of Iran is where Iranian rice is produced?
After the Germans left, Shaban and Tara took a great care of us. It was the weekend so they took us in the mountain to eat in a great restaurant. Then we did a cable car ride together. They also brought us to a celebration in a traditional market! We had plan to leave in the evening but they invited us in the house of their family in the mountain. We couldn’t resist to the idea of spending more time with them, so we went there altogether. Iran near the Caspian sea is totally different from the rest of the country. With all the green landscapes, it was like we were in Switzerland!
After a few days, we finally left Tara and Shaban, full of nice memories, like we left our beloved aunt and uncle. I will always remember this moment in the car, driving the mountain road and listening to Iranian music when Tara and Shaban began singing on the music. We felt that it was the music of their youth, a song by Vigen, a great singer who was banned from Iran after the Islamic Revolution. It was beautiful and we all clapped hands to rhythm the song. Thereupon, I leave you with our nostalgic melody…