Walk in the Desert and Desire of Iranians to leave their Country
In the morning we drove 1-2 km out of Mesr, a village which I wasn’t able to find on the map, to go for a walk in the Dasht-e Kavir Salt Desert. I’ve been to many deserts before and there is nothing which makes this desert particular interesting. The dunes were pretty low which made it easy to walk. There were some bushes in the sand, probably because we are close to an oasis, and a mountain range in the background.
Afterwards we continued our travel towards Gandag, which I also couldn’t find on the map, where we stopped for lunch. It was the usual chicken or lamb kebab with rice we are eating since weeks. It’s often the only available choice thus many small restaurants don’t have a menu and answer your question on what is available with one word which is “kebab”. The rice always need to be ordered separately, otherwise you just get a few pieces of meat without any side dish. When it’s served you often only see a huge pile of rice completely covering the meat which looks kind of strange. It’s actually a lot of food and you can feed two people with it so we often ended up sharing a dish. Also eating vegetables doesn’t seem popular. During my whole time in Iran I never managed to get a kebab with vegetables, only rice and meat. Onions always come separate, e.g. in the same basket with the bread and cutlery. Such a kebab and rice dish costs around 50 Rials (3.00 USD) which is quite cheap.
After lunch we drove to Damghan a sleepy, historic town. Its main attraction is the Tarikhaneh Mosque. It was constructed in the 1st century after the arrival of Islam and is therefore claimed to be the oldest surviving mosques in Iran. I found it kind of interesting to see since it was very basic but many other people didn’t like it since it didn’t have any of the beautiful tiles we saw in other mosques. Before leaving Damghan we had a quick look at the towns market. Isabella bought some lemon and saffron flavored pistachio nuts for the kids in the truck as she likes to call us. I got some dried apricots which are popular in Iran and therefore quite cheap compared to the prices back home. When I remember correctly I paid 80 Rials (4.70 USD) for one kilo of them.
When returning to the truck there was a bunch of kids around showing an interest in our truck and climbing on it to have a chat with our driver Sam. Originally, we wanted to spend the night in Damghan but same as yesterday our reservation got cancelled due to university exams in the area. Instead we drove to Bastam where we spent the night in a comfortable hotel.
Tonight my roommate Isabella was up for watching some TV. When she was browsing through the channels she quickly identified most programs available have some kind of religious content. You could watch people praying in a mosque and listen to speeches of religious leaders. Probably the TV program is dominated by religious stuff because of the religious government who has a huge impact on the live of the people in Iran. The only non-religious program available was a cooking show which Isabella ended up watching without understanding any word of Farsi.
Because of the strict rules of the religious government there are many young people who want to leave the country. They don’t want to do so because of economical reasons but to have more freedom in their lives such as not being forced to wear a headscarf when they aren’t Muslim (which is the case for a high percentage of young people), being able to party and dance in public or use the internet without any restriction. There is actually a high number of websites blocked in Iran including google.de (but not google.com), amazon.de, linkedin.com or twitter.com. I also heard there is a high number of imprisoned journalists in Iran since the government want to have very much control over their citizens and the information flow in the country. Many people dream about moving either to Canada or Australia because these are countries where it’s most easy to get a visa for. They often have a second job to save up the required money for their move.