After spending time climbing on the rocks taking photos, I head back down to the car. I am surprised to find that
Vahid has set up a table in the shade with sliced watermelon, cookies and even espresso. In addition to the huge
speakers, he actually has an espresso machine in the trunk.
The drive back to the city of Kerman at night is momentous, with more loud music, lots of laughter and a number
of stops to look at the stars shimmering above. We also
spend a night at a beautiful remote desert caravansary
(an inn in Eastern countries where caravans rest at night)
where we are the only guests.
We head to Shiraz, a regional trade center thought to be
one of the oldest cities of ancient Persia. Just an hour out
of Shiraz is Persepolis, a splendid palatial complex built in
500 B.C. on an immense half-natural, half-artificial terrace, and one of the world’s most stunning archaeological
sites. We also spend a couple of days in Mashhad before
heading off to Isfahan, famous for its Persian-Islamic
architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered
bridges, palaces and mosques.
I notice some new restaurants and cafes that have opened
since my last visit four months ago. Isfahan is a great place
to experience music and food, as long as you are not vegetar-
ian — kebab is the main meal here and it is very good.
Well rested and fed, I am picked up in Tehran by my
friend and mountain guide Ali in his Land Cruiser and we
are off to the mountains. But first we must pass through
Tehran, which is getting more unbearable every day, with
traffic and air pollution becoming serious problems.
We make it through the city, pick up our cook and drive
north for several hours. Arriving at the trailhead just
It is regrettable that
Americans are so hesitant and
misinformed about Iran.