I’m going to Iran.

Even if it’s just to the Esfahan airport and they deny me a visitor’s visa, I’m going to Iran.

I’d never thought too much about Iran, knowing very little about their role in US history, until I took AP Comparative Government and Politics in high school. One of the six countries we studied was Iran. and I was absolutely fascinated by their form of government–a theocratic democracy? What? Yes! All my yeses! Not to mention all the history of the Persian Empire. A love was born.

At dinner today, a friend asked me why, if English is my favourite major, I also study Political Science. I gave her some rambling answer about how dystopian literature is my favourite genre and dystopias are generally just like our world with a few governmental changes. After I said this, I realised it was true. And I think one of the reasons I’ve been so fascinated with Iran is because their government is so dissimilar to anything else that it almost is like a dystopia. They have a Supreme Leader and a President, a Guardian Council and an Expediency Council, an Assembly of Experts and a Parliament. It’s so. cool.

But the best part about any story, about any culture, is the people. We watched a film called Our Summer in Tehran in APCoGoPo, a touching film that gave me insights into various Iranian films. (I highly recommend it.) Everything I’ve read points to Iran having incredibly welcoming and sweet people. Also, Iran is filled with so much history. I’ve decided that instead of planning everything to a tee, I’ll take things destination by destination. That hasn’t stopped me from compiling a lengthy list of what I do want to see.

When I looked at flights from Dubai to “anywhere” and realized Iran was, next to Oman, the cheapest destination from the UAE, I knew then that it was going to happen. And I’m kind of stubborn when I decide things are happening. I’ve read a lot of travel blogs since then, and I’ve come away with the impression that Iranians are the sweetest, most welcoming people. A lot of people seem to think I’m going to be eaten upon arrival or that I’ll end up in prison for holding a US passport, but I think I’m being realistic and not optimistic in thinking that my biggest trouble will be surviving without Nutella for a week. (And the language barrier, again. Why am I not fluent in Farsii?)

Due to some, how shall we put it, hassles, with flights, I’m going tomorrow and not in four days on Tuesday like planned. I’m actually kind of glad it worked out like this. I was supposed to have two exams on Monday, but both were cancelled–if I was the type of person who believed in signs, that would be a sign. My original plan didn’t allow time to see Persepolis!

My plan as of now is to stay in Esfahan for three nights, go to Shiraz for two, and then go to Tehran, where I’ll fly out, for the last two. My flight back to Dubai gets in at 7:00AM next Sunday and I have class at 9:00 for which I haven’t done homework, but I’ll worry about that later. Honestly, my biggest concern now is that I was feeling pretty miserable the past three days and not the best today. (And I don’t get sick. I refuse to get sick for more than 24 hours.) But I told my body it’s going to Iran so it’s not allowed to be sick. There’s also that minor chance that I’ll be denied a tourist visa. (Apparently US passports emit little beams and Iranian passport officials then track them down, and I need my US passport to leave the UAE so… Oh well.)

I have a Lonely Planet travel guide (from the library.) I have a map (printed, just to my hotel.) I have my passports. I don’t have rial yet (since NOWHERE in Dubai converts!) but I have UAE dirham and US dollars (which are apparently taken in many places–weird.) I have registered with the New Zealand embassy. I have shawls/head scarves and a long skirt. Please be excited for me instead of worrying irrationally–I honestly didn’t even think this would ever be possible, let alone actually happen. (Rant likely forthcoming on how judgements and the ladder of inference.) I won’t likely be able to Facebook message, but I’ll be posting here and checking email as possible.

Anyone want souvenirs? I can bring up to $100USD worth back to the States with me next summer–a generous allowance, right?