Indian Zoroastrians marry Iranian Zoroastrians
In a mosque in Yazd, Iran 2009 © emmenreiter.de
Meymand: Live like Fred and Wilma
Two thousand, three thousand or four thousand years - the Iranians don't agree on how old the cave village of Meymand is. We are on our way there all day long from the Kaluts. When we arrive there aren't many people to be seen. The village looks like a fairytale backdrop. The few families who are still living in Meymand as ever have crawled into some of the 2560 dark caves. In summer, some families move their sheep to simple huts on nearby pastures.
Yaser, a young family man and a real Meymander, catches us on the quiet street and invites us to his cave house. We're actually looking for a place to set up our own cave, but Yaser insists on our visit. He speaks a few words of English and looks childish and inquisitive. His two five-year-old twin sons, his wife, mother-in-law, great-grandma and the hen with her ten chicks inhabit at least three caves. One of them is reserved for visitors like us. We move into the cave that was carved into the mountain by human hands thousands of years ago. I have no idea how old the heavy, thick wooden door at the entrance is. The ceiling inside is black from the fire. Traditional scraps of carpet are laid out on the floor. A lamp cable is nailed to the rock face. So there is electricity and even a fridge next door. This is how the Feuerstein family lives! Tired from the day of driving, we lay down on the cave floor early and fall asleep: Good night, Fred. Good night, Wilma.
We sneak through the village the whole next morning and throw amazing views into the abandoned and still inhabited caves. The women in Meymand look like mythical creatures. Old Salma has just returned from collecting herbs and is brewing fresh herbal tea for us. The Meymander women are said to be known for their herbal knowledge. Yaser's mother-in-law sits in front of our cave all evening later and bakes incredibly delicious bread over the fire. We really feel like we have been transported to another time. Still, we don't miss anything.
Yazd: Back on the Silk Road
The old town of Yazd - this is how we imagined Iranian cities. A sea of flat mud-brick houses criss-crossed with ocher-colored walls and narrow, crooked streets in which black figures in billowing robes scurry around the corners. Almost everyone recommended us to stay at the Silkroad Hotel. It is one of the stylishly restored traditional houses in the old town. Hidden behind a high clay wall, a cozy, bright backyard reveals itself, around the fountain in the middle of which the typical dining beds with oriental carpets and pillows are distributed. Narrow wooden doors on all sides of the courtyard lead directly into the guest rooms. We are welcomed by a Pakistani - and Geert! He's been helping out in the restaurant for a few days, so he's allowed to eat and live for free. Without glasses and clad in jeans and a shirt, we hardly recognized him at all. Nice surprise. We move into the so-called dormitory for cost reasons (and because it is pleasantly cool). For around four euros each, we share a room in the basement with six other young travelers - from Belgium, Holland, India, Mexico, France ... New contacts are a nice change from being together.
Wind towers in Yazd: a cool invention
The climate in Yazd is bearable. Nevertheless, from the early afternoon until six o'clock in the evening, the streets are almost empty and many shops are closed. Siesta in Yazd. To escape the heat, especially in summer, the wind towers (badgirs) were invented in Yazd a long, long time ago. They catch the smallest gusts of wind over the roofs of the old town and guide them directly into the rooms below. In some Badgir variants, the air flows over a water basin beforehand.
Yazd is not only known for wind towers and silk, but also the home of the majority of Iranian Zoroastrians. Zoroastrianism was the main religion in Persia before the empire converted to Islam. Your guide Ahura Mazda is worshiped over light - usually over fire. In the fire temple in Yazd - in Ateshkadeh - the eternal flame has been symbolically burning for several hundred years. We climb the two Towers of Silence, located on two rocky hills on the outskirts of Yazd. Until the sixties, deceased Zoroastrians were given to the birds in the traditional way. Burial in the ground or cremation of the corpse would have damaged their belief in the purity of the elements. Zoroastrian women never wear a chador, but otherwise bow to the female dress code (hejab) in Iran.
Evening prayer on the sheet
It takes some getting used to for Suse to think about the headscarf at all times. And when we go to the impressive Jameh Mosque for evening prayer, not even a headscarf and the almost knee-length top are enough. Suse has to wrap herself up to the floor in a light-colored bed sheet, which the moral guard at the entrance helps to throw over her body. She would have preferred to get a black one so as not to attract attention straight away. Micha is allowed to sneak around comfortably in jeans and a shirt in the courtyard of the mosque while an old man reads from the Koran in chant. You can really spend a few nice days in Yazd. Coming from India and Pakistan everything seems so orderly, clean and quiet. A noticeable step towards home. Salam!
Good news, bad news
On the last evening in Yazd we discover a parked jeep with a PR license in front of the hotel. Unbelievable, other Prignitzers on the way in Yazd ?! In the evening the three of them sit in the inner courtyard of the Silkroad Hotel and recognize us immediately thanks to the website: Micha, Carina and the dog Roxy from Lanz have been traveling to India in a Land Rover for two months. A warm hug - and suddenly Prignitz is closer to us than Iran. But there is also bad news. Geert tells us that a few days ago a French man he met in Islamabad was kidnapped in Pakistan. Drug smugglers probably dragged him out of his camper when he was traveling between Quetta and the Iranian border. A queasy feeling arises in us. We took the same route recently but felt relatively safe. The Afghan and Iranian border areas still harbor a risk, despite police posts on the road.
With new patches on the old, worn-out jeans and finally a sawed-off cast on Micha's thumb, we set off from Yazd to Toudeshk - a village on the edge of the desert a hundred kilometers from Isfahan.
Travel adventure: From your front door to the Himalayas and back
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