I won’t get the next bus that has this banner.
Sleeping nine hours in a night bus may not be good. I was frozen and got a cold because the artic cold of the bus was like a NASA designed test to check the human resistance to cold. I have a running nose and my thigh is sore, but I’m in Esfahan. And it’s ramadam.
It’s not a surprise, I knew that my three weeks in Iran, were on ramadam, but due to days It was unavoidable, moreover, I was curious to live during ramadam in a Muslim country. During half a second I thought on following it, during the other half of the second it insulted me. It’s summer and it’s way too warm for not drinking water.
Esfaham is a lot more touristic than Jolfa and Tabriz were so people look at me less, or at least, with a less of a surprised face. Even thought they also stop to say hello, ask me if I need something or welcome to their country. Eight people stop me during they day and I don’t count the ones that just say “Hi”.
I go around the Imam square where you can see more of the buildings that make the city a masterpiece of Iran, what was the jewel of ancient Persia.
In 1047 the Seljuk made Isfahan the capital. If you remember about Erzurum, the Seljuk were the ones that constructed most of the monuments there. The empire covered from the west of current turkey to the very west of china. so you can see how big their empire was. After the Seljuk the Monguls completed decorating Esfahan as it is today.
Inside Imam mosque.
The palace of Chehel Sotu. Byron said; “Isfahan among those rarer places, like Athens or Rome, which are the common refreshment for humanity”
In the Imam square you can rent a bicycle for free to see the city, even with the way Iranians drive, riding a bicycle is an extreme sport.
When they pray they put these stones between the ground and the forehead.
In the Imam mosque, the most wonderful of Isfahan. The are several days in ramadam where the congretagion go to pray all night. The patio is usually empty but it’s full of rugs and sun stoppers, the picture of a perfect mosque get’s spoilt.
Can’t be clearer. “Down with USA”.
From top of the palace.
A guy sitting on the grass says hello. He’s got an unusual face and awakes my curiosity, I sit next to him. He’s got a Spanish book in his crossed legs and we talk in Spanish a little bit., he’s been studying for a short time and he manages well. We change into English to talk more comfortably. He turns out to be Afghan. In Irán there are a lot of them, they are the cheap labourers and the ones that do the more mundane jobs, the ones that the Iranians don’t want, they mainly work in construction.
He tells me that it doesn’t matter if you are an engineer, they don’t let you work in anything else. He tried to work as tailor but got caught and he got a fine, I guess he was whiped but I don’t ask. He makes a synopsis of what happens in his country, he’s 21 and knows the story of his country perfectly, he talks with a matureness and clearness that impresses. He says that his people are tired, that nobody was able to invade them before but now they are tired of fighting, that if they wouldn’t be tired the story would be different and they would not be invaded. He says it’s the first time that the etnics are divided. He’d like to go back to his country but there is no job, there is war.
We go back to the language thing as it’s less tragic. As it’s difficult for him to find books in Spanish I give him my e-mail, I tell him to send me his mail and I’ll send him some books. I haven’t received it yet, but I’d love to send them to him.
The buildings are great, seems to be taken from Aladdin, but the light was horrible so I’ve edited the colour so the pictures look a bit more like what it was.
Coram verse that was hanging from the fences of many government buildings.
I’m hungry but everything is closed, so I go to a hotel. The restaurants in hotels, bus stations, airports and others are open. Travellers are excused from ramadam as well as kids, sick people and pregnant women. On the way a man that looks like Javier Bardem says hello.
- Hello, Where are you from?
Rest of string of common questions. What are you doing here? Where have you been?…
- Where are you going?
- [In low volume voice] I’m looking for a place to eat. [Nobody understands but I find it funny talking like this.]
- You can talk in a normal voice, In Iran it’s no problem. You are a foreigner, you are travelling and you can eat. If you want I can take you to a place were you can buy food and the you come to my workshop and eat there and relax.
- It is nearby, it’s a typical food, aubergine paste with curry.
- Sounds good [I thought curry was only indian]
- The bazaar is quiet now being ramadam. My job is to restore an old nomad rugs. My father restores furniture and my mother paints. I’m told I look like Javier Bardem.
- Yes I had already realized [wow, he knows!]
- And like a French comedian that is already dead.
- I’m not very into French comedians, sorry, but they are normally kind of a bit tasteless…
We continue like that for a while until we buy the food in an open place in a main street, they only serve food to take away. He takes me to the workshop, brings out a spoon from somewhere that I use to eat not looking too much into it. He goes to do something and lets me there between the rugs. I make a video as the situation is peculiar.
The curry paste is very good but a bit heavy, takes me a while to eat it. When I finish he takes me for a tour around the Bazar-e Bozorg that is over a mile long.
He shows me this man that paints the fabrics with a printing technique, after painting them he washes them in the river so the colour is permanent. He’s got a certificate indicating that his traditional way to do it is cultural world heritage.
We stop in a workshop where different herbs and other things are grinded for tints.
This pink colour is achieved boiling pomegranate powder in milk.
After a while we say goodbye, I tell him thanks for helping me eating something good and I continue my way. I go a mosque that is closed because it’s ramadam and the schedules change in a way that there is no way to know. I chat with a guy that sells rugs. He’s nice, we talk about sex, women, Spain, Islam and he invites me for a tea. I tell him that there is no absolute way he’s going to sell me a rug and he tells me that it doesn’t matter.
It’s hot outside and in the shop it’s cooler. Two other Spaniards are inside talking with the other seller that has very good Spanish. We have the tea, the seller teases us as much as he wants, he’s got a girlfriend in Barcelona and he doesn’t stop joking. He tells us that Esfahan people have the fame of being mean and that it’s said that they don’t buy eggs because you through away the shell(and they don’t like throwing things away). I think he finds it funnier than us, maybe because we are all from Spain and we understabnd the stingy thing.
I promises to buy a carpet from him if he’s got one with a Pokemon, he laughs and offers me a nomad one.
Two hours later I go with the Spanish guys to see the bridges of Esfahan.
Iranians are the picnic kings. Give them two square meters of grass and they’ll bring out the mat, some food an the teapot. This women invite us to have something but we had to wait a few minutes for the sunset, we are in ramadam.
From the distance this looks quite like south east Asia.
It looks perfect from the distance, doesn’t it?
Esfahan was known for the teahouses in the river and in the bridges, it was a place to meet people and to relax. Many have closed now, it doesn’t seem to be a very proper place, young people can look to each other and smoke a water pipe. There are less and less and as it’s ramadam they are closed until the night. I miss some of Isfahan.
On the bus coming back to the hostel I talk with an Iranian man that lives in Scotland. He’s been living there a few years. He studied there and got married to a Scottish woman, they lived in Iran for a few years but they came back to Inverness. He thinks his sons will have more opportunities in Europe. I ask him I he practices ramadam. He tells me that it’s stupid, that he of course doesn’t do it, that not eating and drinking for 15 hours in summer doesn’t make sense.
Apparently after ramadam there are a lot of liver and kidney illnesses coming up and that its not drinking under 40 degrees has no medical logic. He tells me that many people do not do it(which I had already realized) that people are bored of politics saying one thing making no sense and doing another. It’s the bad thing of joining religion and politics, when politics go wrong, religions suffer. He pays my bus and we say goodbye.
The day finished, I met so many people that I didn’t even see half of what I wanted so I had to come back to do the same route the next day.
Next day when it was mearing lunch time I bought some bread in another bakery with an irresistible smell. Even tourists can eat, it’s not very nice to eat in front of people that are fasting so I hid in an alley to eat. The can and I eat the bread on the sly.
Later on, I met Heydar, my new Iranian kayak buddy. We had dinner and I slept in his house as next day we were going to the river. Yuuuupiiiiii!
I spend the last day of Isfahan with Heydar’s family. A total pleasure being with such a charming family.
The next post will be a video about the Armand river.