It’s the people! Our enthusiasm for Iran was fuelled by the incredible warm welcome we received EVERYWHERE we went. People went out of their way to help, get us a hotel room, a seat on a bus, a taxi when arriving late at night. Never did we feel overcharged, not even by taxi drivers, the notorious guild to rip off newly arrived tourists.
It was often touching, sometimes overwhelming to be confronted with so much interest in your very person. We have no clue how many school children came home from a school trips showing off their photos: us surrounded by groups of students and teachers. Even an Akhound (this is the correct word for what we commonly call a mullah) volunteered to have his photo taken with us. This scene immensely puzzled Iranians triggering quite a bit of skeptic remarks.
People would stop in the street, greet us or ask how we liked Iran. Quite a few times we got involved in long exciting exchanges on a street corner. Twice we were invited for a meal, more about that in another entry. It seemed to us the Iranians are just so happy that tourists are returning to their country. Whether it is really a sign of positive change, towards a more relaxed political climate and what’s even more important an improvement of the economic situation is yet to be seen. One young man got straight to the point, “Just because the new president uses Twitter, doesn’t mean our lives have improved.”