|Bus terminal in Tehran|
"Isfahan! Isfahan! Isfahan! Isfahan! Isfahan! Isfahan! Isfahan! Isfahan!", "Tabriz! Tabriz! Tabriz! Tabriz! Tabriz! Tabriz!", "Mashad! Mashad! Mashad! Mashad! Mashad! Mashad!"... The bus terminal is crowded and the bus companies staff go around screaming their destination... "Isfahan! Isfahan! Isfahan! Isfahan! do you go to Isfahan?", "Natanz" our friend Amir politely replies. "Natanz?" repeats the man "Why do they want to go to Natanz?" He sounds surprised, almost scandalised. Because tourists go to Isfahan or Shiraz, maybe to Mashad... "There is nothing in Natanz! Isfahan is very beautiful!" he tells me in English. "Doust-e man dar Natanz ast" I answer in my basic Farsi "A friend of mine is in Natanz". He looks even more surprised! "Isfahan! Isfahan! Isfahan! Isfahan!"...
But we are going to Natanz, or better to Tar, a village in the rural area of Natanz, one hour from Isfahan (by car) but in a different age.
Amir delivered us to the right platform, the bus driver took us on charge and an ancient woman in black chador already assured me that she's also going to Natanz, I can just sit there, it's the right place. No tourists on this bus, many women of different ages, some old men. Many boxes and bags, they are going home. We are a very interesting distraction and everybody want to talk with us, but they don't speak English and my Farsi is really poor. Nevertheless we talk in that mix of languages and gestures that travelers well know.
It's about midday when we leave, our adoptive mother in Iran, Monir, provided us with some food but after one hour or so the bus stops by a service station to allow everybody to have lunch. I'm impressed! the area is big and new, there are many different restaurants and some shops, the bathroom and the prayer rooms (for men and women) where many travelers go taking a rest. In the big waiting room two neon signs say BURGERS and PIZZA, another one ICECREAM.
Back on the bus, flying on a well paved highway crossing the desert, we eat our food, then the driver helper passes with a teapot and a sugar box: "Chai anybody?", "Bale merci" (Yes, thank you). I love him! In Iran you are never left without chai. Never.
Outside, the desert. Burnt yellow and rocky, bald mountains in the distance, brown, gray and purple. I'm fascinated. I'd like to know the name of those mountains and I can't imagine that in few days I'll be very close to them. Still close it isn't enough! I'd like to come back to climb up there...
|The oasis of Natanz|
Kashan! It's a large city and I know it's beautiful, but this time we can't stop. We left the highway and here there is no traffic at all. Villages, small towns. We drive stright to the mountains.
Natanz! down the road, like a green mirage in the dusty nothing, no doubt it's an oasis, rich of gardens and orchades. We are almost the only travelers left on the bus and our friends are waiting for us.
TO BE CONTINUED