April 1, 2000
I can't believe we finally made it, but here we are in Iran! Now that we are here, you probably have some questions. What are people really like in Iran? What do they like to do? After a week of travelling here in Iran we have discovered a very interesting country. I will try to share some things with you -- simple things about which you might be curious.
Have you seen pictures of women in Islamic countries that are completely covered in black from head to toe? If you have, there is a good chance that you were looking at photos of Iranian women. According to the law, every woman in Iran -- including the trekkers! -- must cover her body in public except for her face and hands. Many women wear a chador, which is a large black cape that covers the entire body.
The dress code is very strict in public, but in their homes people dress as they please. Women in long chadors step into their homes and reveal beautiful outfits that they were wearing underneath. What a huge change!
The food here is amazing! Most dishes include a large portion of rice and meat of some kind; usually beef, lamb or chicken. I was happy with the food in Turkey, but the food here is the best!
Last night we went to a restaurant that was outside under the stars. There were raised platforms with carpets on them that we sat on, and large fires kept us warm in the night air. I ate abgusht, which is traditional soup that is like a meat stew. People eat dinner much later here than what I consider "dinner time." We left the restaurant last night at 10:30 PM and families were still arriving for dinner!
During our first few days here, I often had to remind myself that it was indeed the year 2000. The streets were crammed with cars that I had never seen before, and they all looked like they were made in the 1970's. They are called Paykans and they are all made here in Iran. You don't see many American cars or European cars here. The cars all look the same. Have you ever seen one of these before?
Before we arrived, we heard from several travelers that Iran had been their favorite country because everyone was so friendly in Iran. We have only been here for a week, and I already completely agree! We have been treated so well here, and when people hear that we are from America they respond with curiosity and friendly questions.
Believe it or not, they do have Ricky Martin in Iran, but you won't hear him on the radio.. The music that we hear in public is traditional Persian music and some Iranian pop. People often have Western music in their collections at home, though. We visited a family on our first night, and after dinner we all boogied to Ricky Martin and Madonna tunes!
The government in Iran controls television, and there are only five TV channels to choose from. Most of the programs are pretty boring, at least in my opinion. No cartoons here! Satellite dishes are illegal, but many upper-class homes purchase them in order to receive TV shows from Turkey, where they have more exciting shows.
Looking around here, the land is mostly brown, brown, and brown. Spring has just begun and some flowers are beginning to bloom on the trees in the cities. But a great portion of Iran is rocky desert. Beautiful snow-capped mountain ridges are also visible in the distance. There are three mountain ranges that stretch through most of the country.
Iran is HUGE! Look at a map and compare Iran with its neighbors, and you will see that Iran makes its neighbors look small! We thought Turkey was big, but it looks tiny next to Iran.
These are my first impressions of Iran. I am looking forward to my time here. We all feel safe and we're having a great time so far. There is so much to learn and bring to you…I can't wait!
p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica - How do women dress in Iran?
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