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Beyond Damavand

Tehran - Mashad

Monday 8-8-1966

We were up at 4 am and, after a quick breakfast, made our farewells all round before Farshid and his father drove us to the Mihan Bus Station. The coach left at 5 and we were on our way again, heading north towards the Caspian coast. Almost immediately after leaving Tehran we began to climb into the Alborz Mountains that provide a backdrop to the city and it was soon quite cold. The scenery was really impressive - massive bare brown cliffs rising sheer from the road. There were some really beautiful peaks along the way, and especially the high, snow clad cone of Mount Damavand, a volcanic peak , the highest mountain in Iran.

The bus stops at Polour Village, starting off point for climbers of Mt. Damavand, rising in the distance.

As soon as we passed over the mountains the scenery changed dramatically and for the first time in Iran we saw lush vegetation and rice fields. It looked more like something out of South India than Iran. The villages were unlike any others I had seen; the shingle roofed houses each had what looked like an observation tower - a raised platform some 15 feet high - either attached to or away from the dwelling. However, on closer inspection they turned out to be sleeping platforms, so we gathered that here they have a slight variation on the Tehran custom of sleeping on the roof during the hotter months. It soon became quite humid and the land very flat, and away to the left, a thin hazy blue line on the horizon was the Caspian Sea. We never came closer to it than that.

After leaving the coastal belt the land became arid again and, in the Khorasan region that we passed through before reaching Mashad, I think Iran has some of the most beautiful country around, especially when seen in the late afternoon. The plains slope gradually up into magnificent, hazy, blue hills. The shapes and shadows are sharply defined and the colours, all harmonious and merging into one another, run right through the scale. It is difficult to describe, particularly in retrospect, but the colours are vaguely reminiscent of the blues, browns and reds of the Australian Kimberlys. At sunset everything takes on a rose-coloured hue. This is really the sort of landscape I like. So far on this trip, the scenery that has made me sit back and wonder at its beauty has been in Greece, Turkey and now in North Eastern Iran - strangely enough, all brown, dry country. It was a beautiful sunset. The bus stopped for dinner at Bojnord, where there was an argument between the driver and some passengers about exactly where it should pull up. Afterwards we drove on to Ghoochan before stopping to sleep. Ade and I slept for about 4 hours on the tops of fruit vendors barrows.

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Posted by Ozac 23:49 Archived in Iran

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