Note: My version of this blog consolidates the many acts of kindness we received during our three months in Iran. Lluís, however, has done an incredible job writing about all of these experiences in much greater detail. If you really want to see how Iranians are, please take a few minutes and translate his post, Però quí fa tot això? from Catalan to English (Google Translate may help). All of these things happened to us…they are all true… and we are still overwhlemed thinking about how good people are to us!
We have been so lucky to be the recipients of all sorts of kindness for 18 months from Thailand to Uzbekistan.
But Iran takes hospitality to a completely different level, something we have not found anywhere else on this journey or on other “normal” trips.
The widespread outpouring of generosity from people in this country leaves us constantly asking, “Who does this?”
Like, who jumps out of their car to shake our hands and welcome us to their country. “Thank you very much for coming to Iran,” they say, so obviously happy that we have chosen to visit here despite the worldwide news that makes them outcasts.
Who sees us walking along the road and stops to give us strawberries, peaches, apricots, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, salad greens, bread and sandwiches? And, we’ll never forget, those sweltering afternoons along the desert stretches, when the ice cream delivery guys opened their trucks’ freezers and surprised us with ice cream (oh, how I can still taste the saffron ice cream with rose water and pistachios!)?
Who waves to us from his motorcycle and then five minutes later comes back to us with mango juice, packaged pastries, banana milk? “I’m your bodyguard,” another gentleman says, handing us juice boxes.
Who invites for roadside picnics and pushes plates of fried eggs, bread, cheese and jam in our direction?
Who, after a conversation lost in translation, rides his bicycle to a shop, buys us a two-liter bottle of soda, and catches up to us on the side of the road, apologizing that he doesn’t speak English?
Who parks his truck on the other side of the highway, runs across four lanes of highway and begs us to come to his house for tea, dinner, a shower and a good night’s sleep?
Who waits for us in the shoulder of the road and hands us four chocolate bars?
Who runs after us with roses and gives us big hugs?
Who pours us more tea than we have ever had anywhere?
Who feeds us until we are so full we can’t walk?
Who waves us into his shop, tells us to take anything we want out of the fridge and won’t accept money for the grape juice we choose?
Who gives us bottles of ice water? Who brings us pitchers of cold sugared water with basil seeds and rose water or saffron?
Who runs into their orchard and comes back with a basket full of peaches to take with us?
Who sees us walking through town, hops on their bicycle and hands us a kilo of just-picked, just-washed plums? “For your journey,” she says, jumping back on her bicycle and waving goodbye.
Who asks us a bunch of questions one afternoon and decides to join us the next morning for a six kilometer walk?
Who brings us home for superhero’s lunch of rice, chicken, bread, tea and yogurt and let’s us stretch out and nap?
Who takes us home at night, makes us a feast of a meal, lets us use the washing machine and gives us a safe place to sleep?
Who prepares our mattresses, fluff our pillows and puts pitchers of water and plates of fruit, chocolate and cookies near our bed for late-night snacking?
Who wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to make sure we have a hearty breakfast of rich cream, honey, cheese, jam, dates, fried eggs, bread and tea before we start walking?
Who wakes up at 4:30 in the morning to drop us off at the point where we stopped walking the night before?
Who says, “This whole apartment for you. No money. This is my daughter’s apartment, but she lives in Europe now,” and then hands us a bowl of fresh-picked, fresh-cut watermelon?
Who says, “No, thank you, you can not help us. You are our guest. You are our gift. You can only sit and relax?”
Who takes us home to their family’s party and tells me I dance better than Jennifer Lopez?
Who gives us gifts of bracelets, nuts, dried fruits, rose tea, little bags of basil seeds to add to our water, shirts, a scarf, deodorant, little tubes of perfume and socks (!)? And, amazingly, who after hearing I like the color turquoise, gives me a ring with a turquoise gem stone, and then when realizing it’s too small for my finger, goes to the jewelry store to resize it?!?!
Who takes us out walking in the forest, drives us to the mountains, tells us which flowers are good for tea and and then drives us to the coast so we can have our first glimpse of the Caspian Sea?
Who convinces us to finishing walking early and come with them to the mountains for a picnic?
Who makes room for us in their cars and treat us like rock stars at home?
Who messages us every day wanting to know where we are, if we need anything, and if we are safe?
Who sends us little notes every week via messaging apps telling us how much they and their families miss us and how much they love us?
Who gives us three kisses when we say, “See you next time?”
Really, who does this?
We have asked ourselves this every day for three months. And, our answer is, “Iranians, of course!”
They are a breed apart, and their generosity is an example for all of us.
Sepas! Thank you very much, sweet Iranians, for your kindness! You will always have a special place in our hearts!