Travel in Iran during Ramadan and Eid

We arrived at our final destination. After a long day in our camel of the 21st century we arrived at our Caravanserai. It is an ancient Persian word that literally means Caravan for travelers. Our guide waits for us for a tea before returning home. A while before, some boys have called him to take them from Shiraz to Persepolis, back and forth, tomorrow. He has not hidden his joy when he has hung up the phone with the deal closed.

Shortly before, he had managed to close another with us, because of our need to move from the caravan to Yazd the next day. I was interested in the rest of our plan, in which we have another displacement in the air from Yadz to Isfahan. He has offered us the services of his good friend, a nice guy speaking poor english. We book the complete package with excursion to Kharanaq, Chak Chak, Meybod.

They lodge us in the internal zone, a corridor in which the rooms are on both sides with a curtain like screen. The area remains fresh and seems the best option. Even so the Baluchi ethnic boy tells us that we are the only guests of the caravanserai this night. So we have at our disposal the room we want, also those of the central patio.

Being able to choose we prefer one of these, bigger, private rooms and above all we have in sight in the central courtyard, our camels and merchandise. Our guide takes tea with us and says goodbye. He has to retrace his steps and tomorrow he returns to Persepolis with a small group.

Once settled and showered a little can be done in this place. We just talk to other travelers about business, silk paper, or some Chinese porcelain incense. We hear that the Yemeni people have stopped supplying horses from the Gulf of Aden to the kingdoms of India, and that the new taxes imposed by the Ottoman Empire on the Armenians is causing some revolt in those lands.

This year the flood of the Nile has given a magnificent harvest. People investing in pepper is now the latest fashion in Europe, which is more expensive than gold. I'm not talking to caravanserai spirits, until the sun goes down. We will not invoke them while chewing Qat. Marco Polo is telling me all this, as his adventures are being read on this trip.

Reading or writing in one place is one of the best ways to enjoy it and have a more special and lasting memory. I realized this recently, since we reduced the intensity of displacements by a little more calm in each place. On the landing of our room, one in front of the other, we spend the rest of the evening so focused that we miss the sunset.

It did not help to climb quickly to the roof as soon as I remembered, as the sunset was only five minutes back. Dinner is served in a table with three types of rice, others with meat, breads, salads. Halfway through dinner a policeman appears in the dining room. He say hello to one of the boys and they stay talking in front of us.

During the dessert course the same boy reappears. He uses a little rice with stew and sits at the table with the rest of the caravanserai men. He is one of the family who works as a police officer. We go back to the roof of the caravanserai. I remember a One Thousand and One Nights scene in which Ali Baba arrives at his house on the roof, identical to the one we're in right now.

There are not as many stars in the sky as I expected. In return we have a bright full moon of eid that will enlighten us as we enjoy this special night in a very special way.

Travel in Iran during Ramadan and Eid

Day 2

How much hustle and bustle this place would have in its heyday! From the sunrise, after the first prayer towards the Kaaba, people reassembled the goods and order the caravans. The day is long until the next point, and the worst hours are best spent under one of the few groves on the way. Today, however, we have not had any luck.

We get up with absolute silence in the patio and breakfast is served only for us in the main dining room. We have some milk and the omnipresent fine and round bread with jams to encourage a little the palate and a man greets us from a corner of the room. He is from Tehran. He wears a corset like a breastplate that covers the whole trunk and a leg with a considerable metallic splint.

The place that tourists use to let the imagination fly sometimes serves as a monastery. In his round of questions he is interested in our trip, where we come from, what we think of the country. He confesses that he is on his honeymoon after two years of dreaming of the trip, although his eyebrows and smile say it all for him.

We spent so much time that the time has been laid on us. I would like to take some pictures from the outside of the caravanserai, so we say goodbye. We leave our mark in the guestbook of the place and on time our driver arrives. Today he will take us to the hotel of Yazd through the Tower of Silence and the Zoroaster temple.

At first we do not go up. The temple is on the outskirts, and it's not a big deal. It is a small building, with verses from the Avesta, some translated and others not. And behind is a protective glass and the wooden cauldron where the sacred flame burns. Legend has it that some magicians left a few centuries ago from these lands guided by a star to honor a newborn with gifts like gold, incense and myrrh.

In return the little one gave them a chest and asked them not to open it until they were in their land again. Some of them could not stand it and opened the chest. They were punished by a lightning bolt. A small fire was created where it fell and from that flame the wise men took a sample that they took back. It would be the one that we are witnessing in the case of this medieval history being true.

It is completely anachronistic because there was already the cult of this fire for centuries before Christianity appeared. The silk road has great legends. We are told by the driver that today everything will be closed in the city because yesterday at night a Mullah, that is, a holy man, a direct descendant of Muhammad from the branch of Fatima and the Imam Ali highly revered of the country had given a sermon on the occasion of Ramadan.

That was the only thing that could happen in the city if you are a devout Shiite Muslim. It is true that everything is closed. There are many hotels in this city located in the city that can make the stay as pleasant as this, but something makes it different. It has a special mention of UNESCO for maintaining in the restoration the original structures and their historical context within the Iranian culture.

In another situation, we would surely have chosen another. It was clear to me that it was the perfect accommodation. They give us an impressive room. I do not smell anything and the room is perfect. As in Shiraz we only have one day to enjoy this city that promises a lot and through which Marco Polo passed.

There they elaborate cloths of gold and silk denominated yasis, that are exported to many places. Locals are worshipers of Muhammad. And after this brief description our driver would go to Kerman enjoying the beautiful forests of Persia and, surely, eating partridges and quail that abounded along the way. Much earlier was also Alexander the Great according to some historians.

We went on foot in search of the mosque on Friday as we believe that the most interesting visit we can do today. As the hotel is located in one of the 1001 alleys of the old part we have before us four different paths to go. The first road takes us to a wasteland without exit and the second is the entrance to a bazaar in works and completely scaffolding where there is no life, perhaps for rest or prolonged decline.

We go through it and arrive at a large avenue, probably through which we have arrived. At the crossroads of the bazaar, where there was moments before the same silence as in the towers now there is a tumult of people gathered around something. Standing out in the middle is a man in black turban and we stop in our tracks. It is the Mullah of the posters and we are stunned.

A gentleman of the circle looks at us with a smile on his face of happiness that completely envelops him and he nods to us because he knows what we are thinking. Yes, it is him. I point with my finger asking permission and wait. The man makes a gesture towards me. He is going to receive me and a mess is made to take out his hand from the gray cloak that covers him.

While I shake hands and I look into his eyes, my pulse goes off. I'm so petrified that I can only say nice to meet you. His eyelids are full of drops of sweat and his beard is very white and long. He babbles something that sounds like salam and he soon withdraws my hand turning his face. He turns around and leaves alone through an alley in the bazaar alone, with no one in his entourage.

The gentleman continues looking at me inflated with happiness. If this man give Ramadan sermon, as I'm sure he will, he'd better leave soon because he's going to give him something with such warmth and such a robe. He had performed the pilgrimage to Mecca, as the distinctive Haj was included before the name.

On the way to the mosque I am assimilating what has happened. The tallest minarets in the country already show us the direction to go, although we have to make a detour through the labyrinth of sand-colored streets. The entrance door is so high that I burn my hands by resting them on the floor to take the picture and I cannot get it. The patio is not square as we are getting used to seeing, but rectangular.

The interior is very beautiful, with geometric mosaics and calligraphies that I would like to understand. Inside the haram, allowed for the infidels, are the usual 3 or 4 of the mosques. In front we have the Seyyed mausoleum, grave of the builder of the mosque on Friday. We enter the old city by any of its Sabbath, Persian name for these narrow alleys.

It reminds me of Jiva, but Yazd is more authentic. It does not transmit that feeling of restored decoration to the lower brick of each wall. Here everything shows the age. It has the streets, its bricks and the women in black that move with stealth and ease through the shadows that create the highest areas. Here everything is narrow and many streets or intersections are covered by arches, and some by small domes as a bazaar to have areas of respite in the displacements.

These are the areas where children play football. Even in these shadow areas, the sun does not let up, and the narrowness of the lanes and its labyrinthine framework seems that today they are able to circulate the wind as they were asked when they were built. Only by fleeing the sunstroke we enter a museum that we see along the way.

There is no one at the ticket office. They are in the next room sitting in front of the fan doing nothing. Here several things are exposed, without any concrete order, or explanation in another language that is Farsi, in showcases and with a good layer of protective dust on top of all objects. We have already lost ourselves several times.

To top it off we arrived at the square where the domes of the badly named prison of Alejandro and the mausoleum of the twelve imams are located, but the entrance seems to be on the other side of the square. We have not seen a soul in the street for a while now. Returning to the labyrinth we do not like it anymore and the stomach starts screaming at us.

I ask under an arch the wild card of the guide, which marks in this same square the tourist office. We must have entered as travelers who reach the oasis because the girl move from her chair to offer us water first. We ask her if there is a place nearby where we can flagrantly violate the third pillar of Islam. Not in that way exactly, more banally a place to eat.

The luck continues with us because she affirms us with the head and accompanies to the front door through which we have entered. 50 meters further on the street we have the restaurant of a hotel. It seems so strange to us that it sounds like a joke, and we distrustfully ask if it will be open.

The restaurant is on the ground floor, illuminated by the natural light that enters through the stained glass windows that form the peculiar lantern of the roof domes. Right now I think they are the ones I saw when I looked at a wall while I was asking for a few minutes ago the wild card of the guide. They have two types of lounges.

In one there are cushions and carpets. We repeat the star dish of the Iranian cuisine for us of rice with chicken brochette. Back to the hotel we lost a couple of times and in one of them, passing through a large desert dome greets us a man, salam. He points to some stairs that go down, just to the right of where we are and he suggests that we go down to see what is at the end.

We remain doubtful. The stairs are lost in the dark and the man recognizes that it is a bit scary. The only bad thing is that we do not carry the flashlight but we light the flash of the camera, and go down. He does not want to come. After about 10 meters everything begins to get dark also begins a rather unpleasant smell. I just take a couple of photos. And I start the climb with the same care as the descent.

The stairs end in a small room where there is only dirt and a lot of bad smell. Our friend accompanies us to a street from where we can arrive in a straight line to the hotel and says goodbye with a welcome, like Iranian. Welcome to Iran. After the siesta, from which we got up rather late, we decided to visit the Dolat Abad gardens, which are part of the Persian heritage of humanity.

However, we have made the same mistake again in Shiraz. We return to another sidewalk because the road is basically a long avenue that joins the gardens with the Chakhmaq mosque, which we have selected as the next visit. Finally after 4 days in the country we will be able to taste the famous pistachios of Iran. I was already going to fly and we have found a small store selling the nuts and spices. I ask the young gentleman for a small bag and he gave me a handful.

The minarets of the peculiar Amir Chaqhmaq facade can already be seen in the background. The food stores are preparing to open and the bread ovens are already in full production. A man throws us high pointing behind us. We turn around and he is the gentleman of the pistachio shop who comes running. I cannot help but get serious because the situation dislodges me and without saying a word turns around drying the sweat with my hand.

When arriving in front of the Amir we are struck by two minarets in the avenue on the left, Imam Khomeini street. As the idea is to see sunset in the most representative site of Yazd and stay a while we go there. According to a map, we are in front of what seems to be the Biagh Khan mosque. We accede but people are in full prayer.

Looking a bit at the complex from the patio we received a couple of not very friendly looks and all we see are men. In front another construction draws our attention and this time it is a mausoleum. We ask for permission and the old monsieur custodian asks us to take off our shoes, and to wear a chador. We accept everything and access each one by our side.

It is the temple of Prince Falel, another mausoleum. Apparently he was a famous writer of Yazd who was martyred near this place. Nor is there much to see on the site or special details. At last my face says it all for me. Well, the man taught us to wear the chador, how to pray, how we had to kiss the bars of the grave and show respect in the right way, all without knowing anything of English.

Once kissed the Tomb, he takes out the phone, and take a selfie with it. Until the sun has fully set we have been in the Amir complex, sitting on a bench and as privileged spectators of a football match of the division of honor of the neighborhood, where the goal is the boy's flip flops that he has to be goalkeeper until that fit a goal.

There are plenty of food places around this place. In the inner alley of the Amir for example there are humble places of broquetas. The owners and clients are of Asian race, throwing to Uzbeks or Kyrgyz. This type of ethnicities that are not easily distinguished. The freshness of the food has created doubts and we prefer to keep looking.

We decided on a roasted chicken from the shop window of a store that looks very good and to bring some minced meat skewers freshly refilled in the shop window just upon our arrival. And not at tourist price. I take the opportunity to photograph the monument as night falls and the intensity of the lights on its facade increases.

After having dinner and remaking a suitcase, we went out to the courtyard of the hotel, which is very lively. We take something and we say goodbye to Yazd. It is a pity to have only one day for this authentic city, the saying of the precocious ones will have to be a consolation.
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