Hitchhiking in Iran: road stories #10 – from Yazd to Tabas
Staying in Yazd: Walking around the Old Town and learning about Zoroastrianism
The journey through the desert had left us extremely tired but as ever travelling waits for no man and there were new sights, sounds and smells to be discovered.
Immediately Yazd struck us as a unique city in many ways. Perhaps, it is the fact that as one of the driest and hottest cities in Iran life simply has to be different. The architecture was unlike anything we had seen before in the country, a maze of mud backed alleyways, dead-ends, quiet courtyards and hidden treasures. Furthermore, the city’s skyline was punctuated by innovative wind-catchers which were designed to funnel the scant air available into the houses below. The view from the rooftops was a sight to behold, surrounded by the never ending yellowish brown desert fleeing to the horizon.
We also found interesting the fact that Yazd was one of the most important centres for a religion about which we knew very little. Zoroastrianism was founded by the philosopher Zarathustra, who in 6th century BC formed ideas that later influenced other religions including Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity and Islam.
Zoroastrians believe there is one universal, transcendent, supreme god, Ahura Mazda, and that good and evil are two opposing forces. They also believe that life through good deeds is necessary to acquire happiness and to keep chaos at bay. It’s estimated there are around 2.6 million Zoroastrians worldwide with a significant number living in Iran.
In Zoroastrianism, water and fire are the two main elements which are also represented in a fire temple. In the temple we visited in Yazd the eternal flame is believed to have been burning for over 1500 years but let’s be honest it clearly hasn’t.
It is generally very difficult to Couchsurf in Yazd, but we were lucky. Our friend Houman, who we had met 4 years ago in Tbilisi, managed to organise us a stay with his friend Amir and his wife Mahnaz. Amir was a dentist, who gave us a tour of his surgery and on the last day invited us to his parents’ house where we got drunk on vodka with his dad and his Russian friend Rozven. On the following day, Amir’s dad (a retired English teacher) gave us a lift to the edge of town and we continued on hitchhiking through the Iranian desert.
The direct hitchhike to Tabas
Thankfully our hitchhike was this time an easy one. At the edge of town we were approached by two kids and after exchanging a few words with them a car pulled up and a young guy took us onwards. As you can imagine, going through the desert is generally quite boring due to the monotonous landscape, so we were happy to spot some wild camels on the way.
Our second and last lift was with a lovely guy who took us all the way to Tabas and we got there in no time, as he was speeding across the desert in his little car. On the way we stopped by the wrecks of the American helicopters that were burnt during Operation Eagle Claw, a failed attempt to rescue the US diplomats in the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1980. The photos I took there would put us in slight trouble with a military officer a few days later, but that’s another story…
written by: Ania