So an American and a Russian walk into an Iranian mosque… sounds like the beginning of a great joke, right?
My two Italian friends, and a new Russian friend, and I begun the day by walking to Arg-e Karim Khani, the giant castle/fortress that we had kept seeing. There was an exhibition going on–“Fars at a Glance”–and many craftsmen had stalls around the area selling various foods and crafts, and seeing the various people selling their wares was as interesting as seeing the old bathhouses. It reminded me of a farmer’s market in the US.
We stopped to get street food, and I ordered carrot juice and at the vendor’s suggestion added caramel ice cream. The ice cream tasted like condensed milk and the combination was actually really delicious, once I stopped spilling it all over myself.
Next, we went to Bagh-e Eram, the botanical gardens next to the university. I was actually a bit disappointed by these–they were absolutely gorgeous, but from what I had heard–and from being charged 300,000 rial admission–I was expecting more. Still, it was lovely to wander around and have some greenery.
We strolled back, going through another park that had what seemed to be a mini-theme park. I was delighted, but few of the rides were running.
I bought a nectarine and my friend bought a pomegranate and we sat on the street again to eat and watch people. We found a teahouse, and then bid farewell to the Italians.
I was gleeful about the idea of a Russian and an American wandering Iran together–“Is he your husband?” “No, he’s actually my archenemy.”–and really enjoyed his company; he had majored in psycholinguistics which meant I got to obsess over the theory of linguistic relativity and we had some similar perspectives on music and the relevance of literature.
On our way to Imamzadeh-ye Ali Ebn-e Hamze, another tomb/mosque, we got lost and asked for directions. The guy we asked spoke little English, but fluent Spanish, and volunteered to walk with us for a few blocks. This was the most exercise my Spanish had had in several years and I was surprised by how well we communicated. Especially after having just discussed linguistic relativity, it was fun to translate.
We sat in the mosque for a while talking and it seemed that every few minutes, someone was bringing us a sweet of some sort. I had a particularly interesting conversation with one man who brought us cookies, trying to explain the concept of a stay-at-home dad.
After wandering through the bazaar a little, we made our way back to the hostel. I packed up and bid farewell.
Before getting a taxi to the bus station, I bought nun to take with me for my overnight journey, and wondered through some clothing shops. I finally found a manteau I really liked. They only had a size too big, which was fine with me, because it gave me good haggling leverage to knock 150,000 rial off the price!