Getting to know Yazd, and my travel partner

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ November 21st, 2007. Updated on September 15th, 2009. Published in: Travel blog » Iran.

Travel Journal Overview: Yazd was soon becoming my favorite place in Iran. The people were friendly, the sights were great as I finally got to see real Zoroastrian fire temples.  And, I was meeting new people. I was also getting to learn more about Christine, she was smarter than most gave her credit for.

Cooling Towers in Iran, also known as wind chimneys

Cooling Towers in Iran, also known as wind chimneys

Breakfast was great, a buffet of Feta cheese, eggs, tomatoes, olives and fresh breads. Christine was up and ready for a walking tour of Yazd, not a bad idea. I was quick to get the impression that Yazd was where all the friendly people of Iran lived. We were greeted with smiles, polite nods and even invitations into closed mosques. All this with Christine’s loud questioning tactics. According to the LP there was a camel burger café nearby so went in search of the illusive burger, only to end up looking around like lost tourists with a map. Which we were of course.

It was here Christine began here random verbal assault tactics on locals again, wanting to know where the camel burger face was. Most people were polite enough to assist, but were unfortunate enough not to know. A young pretty student girl dresses in the typical black chador came over to us from her bus stop and offered help. Her name was Naseem and she seemed oblivious to Christine’s rantings. The young student took us faithfully into trust and offered to help us.

Nassem was mainly curious about the new people in town, the foreigners, who why and what again were here main questions. But at the same time she took us through the old bazaar. Showing us along the way the old gold merchants, spice sellers and food stall owners. I found all this to very enjoyable, but lunchtime had passed by 2 hours ago. This also meant Christine was not coping well, and found all the wandering around too much. Her temper was flaring again and it seemed Nassem was getting the brunt of it.

The girl saw this I am sure, and more out of pride than any thing else offered took us to a fancy restaurant after failing to locate the camel café This was too much for Christine who decided it was all too much and so wanted to go back to the hotel. I felt bad for Nassem, and made a beeline for a local kebab café and we sat there in near silence for a while. Finally, with food, Christine settled down a little, and we invited Nassem for dinner that night in the hotel.

That night Nassem did not show up at the pre arranged time. So it just left Christine and I at the table together. I still found her attitude today harsh and unfair. I saw a guy in a blue baseball cap sitting at another table alone, and so invited him to join us. Mark, a New Zealanders, was a little shy, or silent rather, and it was only after Nassem arrived late that I discovered why.

When Christine was engrossed with a conversation with Nassem, Mark whispered over to me. “Where did you pick up her from?”

I laughed of his humorous quip, “She traveled down Shiraz with a New Zealander and…”

“Ah”, laughed Mark, “Willy, so he dumped her off on you then?!”

I clicked, and thought back to a brief conversation I had shared with Willy in the back of the taxi in Shiraz. Willy had met Christine in Tehran, after Mark had been traveling with her for a few days. So she had latched onto Willy before meeting up with me and passing her on to me!

We both laughed it off well. Christine had been doing the rounds of younger male chaperons. Mark was a little brutal with his comments of Christine. Most of which I could easily relate to. But at the end of the day Christine was likable, and smart. Her temper and attitude was atrocious at the best of times, but she did have a very good way about her at time too.

My walking tour with Christine continued the next day as we visited some more of Yazd’s street life, and the odd Mosque. The day was highlighted by meeting an English Indian Girl, Dali, who spent most of the time pulling faces at Christine and her antics. We also bumped into Mark who had picked up a young Lithuanian guy called Dmitri in his travels. Christine and I also visited Yazd Tourist office, where we met a young Iranian girl, Bousseh, who worked there. Bousseh was as western as any Iranian I had met, and was instantly making jokes about Christine and me. It was a place we kept going back to as not only was Bousseh full of information she also made many hours of laughter for us.

As a group we hired a taxi to the not so impressive Zoroastrian Fire Temple, which holds a fire that has been kept alight continuously since 470 AD. And then we headed out to the very impressive Towers of Silence that but Esfahan’s to shame. Here two large hills jut out of desert soil on the outskirts of the city. And clearly visible from the top are two stocky cylindrical towers. We spread out and wandered through abandoned buildings that looked as if they had been plucked from Star Wars’ Desert cities scenes. Sand colored Domes rose directly out of the earth and were accompanied on either side by two rectangle towers with vents in them. These were cooling towers, and beneath the domes were water and storage tanks.

Towers of Silence - burial grounds for the Zoroastians

Towers of Silence - burial grounds for the Zoroastians

Apparently Yazd has no rivers nor streams running through it. Indeed the ‘Pearl of the Dessert’ has no water. Centuries ago the Persian’s built a vast underground stone pipe age system that channels water down from near by mountains.

The abandoned buildings were crumbling, and far from safe. Indeed without immediate restoration work it would be hard to imagine them surviving another 20 years. From the top of the towers the view was good. Yazd was spread out before us in a dusty haze. The ancient yet futuristic buildings below were lost in the camouflage of the dry brown earth. The towers were not so easy to get into. Any official gate was nowhere to be scene. The ancient entrance way was long since blockaded off. Indeed the only way to get into the towers was to climb around loose rock around to the back of one, and then up a steep incline. Here, someone had knocked out a hole in the stone wall that allowed us entry.

The area inside was cylindrically surrounded by the sand colored stones of the tower. In the center was a circular pit of about 3 feet deep and 15 feet radius. This is where the bodies of the dead were laid out for the birds to come and pick of the flesh until nothing but bone was left. And even then, according to the locals , the bones were often taken away too.

We descended the towers and were soon accompanied by a group of youngsters and their bicycles as they used the open area and its mounds as an ancient scrambling circuit.

During all his, Dimity and Christine had built up quite a hostile relationship. Which in a way, provided amusement for the rest of us.

Some related links from this website that  you might like: (including a lot more photographs from Iran)

Stories: Feeling Low on the Road, in Iran

Stories: Iranian women, and the others I met in Iran

My Iran country guide

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