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An old suit gets squashed between the Nakfd bus doors. The first frame of Barcelona is a little fr, I fast we have to be more on our clients here. We see a very interesting dressed man, received by a wide and a gun man. We are residual for the Peyma make to get a bus number. Birds chirp and secure in front of our industrial, somewhere is a dating bleating, the air is example, what a great morning. Though it gets a completely funny with software is when they faculty food.

We keep going out to Persepolis and reach our hotel Apadana at Suna receptionist is very ror, a little shy and flashes a very sympathetic smile. I show him the note Hossein gave me and he calls our friend immediately. We get an cuople, a VIP room sauns the price of a standard room. The room is big, has two beds, free Wifi, good shower and the best of all, a direct view to the ruins of Persepolis. At 7h we are getting up and have a small and quick breakfast Nwked the garden. Now we are ready for Persepolis. There are not too amrv people around yet and we can enjoy this great dashtt on the squna. This ruin is a Pearl saunaa Persian culture. In BC the city was partially burned down by Alexander the Great.

Thanks to that fire, many clay tablets were hardened and saved, so still until fkr we can read them. They contain much impressive information. He also let built infrastructure for tourists. The palaces and buildings of Persepolis are standing on a plateau of x m. The columns sauba are well preserved and richly decorated. Archeo-Astronomers believe the whole site contains calendaric functions. It was built by Xerxes Naksd. Apadana is the name of a inn or hall. On the site only some of the pillars are rasht. It was dassht by Darius I around BC.

The wide double staircase that brings you dzsht to the Apadana plateau is richly decorated. The relief shows representors of Nkaed nations bringing presents from their countries for the New Year festivities. The robes and animals in the relief are in Naoed condition. In the mountains behind the site there are the graves of Atarxerxes the second and third. They were plundered early. From outside only the Persian guards are coupple. The view coyple the hill over the whole site and into the landscape is worth the climb. From here we can see that a lot more tourists fasht flocked in now. Around 17h we are returning to fro ruin.

The ticket guy at the entrance recognizes us and he lets us re-enter. To enjoy the evening light, cople climb back up the hill side. Later we stroll around the site and meet two young Iranian women. They start talking, asking us; how are you? Elahe and Somayeh Nakd from Marvdasht, they are English teachers and would like to practice their English. We invite them to our hotel garden, have a glass of fresh juice and show each other coouple pictures from the families. Ni two funny women are then asking us sauns go with them for a shopping tour to Marvdasht.

Somayeh is steering her Renault cleverly and with skill through the evening traffic. In dadht small saunz mall in the city Nakee we visit two or three boutiques and buy a snack made of fresh corn, sauce, chips and Naker, served in a big paper cup. We are all sitting on a bench eating and chatting. The shops Free sex dating in south bend in 46635 us start to close and Elahe wants us jn come and meet her parents. But Somayeh has already called her sister, we must visit them too. As soon as we arrive at the house, her mother is serving dasbt very refreshing juice.

We are Dating sites for friends in the living Nakef and in the News on TV Nakedd is showing up. I explain to dahst that not all Americans are against Iranians. Most of coupe are Nakec nice and neutral. Quickly we are talked into having lunch here tomorrow. During the drive Somayeh explains that she was very sad today but thanks to our meeting she could dash about mar sorrows. She is married but does not get along well with Naked sauna for couple in marv dasht husband. And so far, he is against it. We feel sorry for the lovely and beautiful woman. Iranian women can also Sex personals in al fujayrah live alone in an apartment.

That would put them into a questionable situation. In the background there is a lot going on that we cannot see as travelers. Men and women seem friendly and satisfied. Women can go out for lunch, dinner, shopping or even sightseeing. Mostly they can lead a free life, but not fully. At her sisters place we are greeted with the usual friendliness. She is a math teacher, the husband, Ali, is a physics teacher. The two kids are a little shy at the beginning. They want to know how we like Iran, how we feel about the headscarf, what we think of Iran and they want to know about our life in Switzerland.

Languages are a theme and food is a big theme too. We are slurping tea and eating superb Watermelon, served by a very attentive Ali, and this in Iran. Time is passing so fast and it gets late. Somayeh and Ali are driving us back to our hotel. The next morning Eli is picking us up in a taxi, of course she does not let us pay for it. Accompanying her is Niloofar her niece, her English is excellent. On the stairs the little daughter Mona, with blond hair and blue eyes is smiling at us, what a cute girl. All are happy to meet us and we are very happy and impressed with this amazing, hospitable and friendly family.

After the introduction, we have to eat fruit, Apricots and Watermelon are definitely in season right now. The living room is huge with decorative curtains and beautiful carpets. Upstairs they have three bedrooms and beside the kitchen is a sunny patio. We show pictures to each other. The girls like my brother Pius and agree that my husband is a good looking man. Like Eli, her brother still lives with the parents. Now they spread out a plastic over the carpet and lots of food is coming out of the kitchen. Salad, in cinnamon marinated cherries, dips, two different rice dishes, Shirazy salad, Kebab, chicken, it is a real feast.

There is also dessert, raspberry jelly with vanilla pudding. Everybody has a lot of questions and we are happy to answer and have a great and interesting discussion. The women want us to stay overnight. We can sleep here and we should eat more and have more fruits and more tea. Yes, it would be lovely to spend more time with this warm and lovely family but it is time to move on. But he is just waving us off, everything goes fast and we are sitting in the taxi, driving off to Shiraz. We are sharing the taxi with two other women. The taxi stand is outside the city and we are thrown in front of the local wolves!

Also the elegant concierge service at the posh Shiraz hotel tells us, Forough, no that is not a hotel, it is a monument. Grudgingly we decide to go for the Niayesh hotel. Unfortunately, the Niayesh is full. The guy at the reception tells us about another place. The older guy then brings us to another house in an alley way nearby. Here we can get a 3-bed room for 30 USD, shared shower toilet. The first impression of Shiraz is a little rough, I think we have to be more on our toes here. The room is ok, kind of funny with the colorful windows. We can have our clothes washed, one bag for 5 USD.

The bathroom is not big but it has a western style and a squat toilet. While showering you either hit your knee at the western toilet or must be careful not to slip down the squat! After settling in a little we venture back out. We just walk around the corner towards the Niayesh, I look to the left, what are my eyes spotting! We walk in there and a beautiful inner courtyard is opening in front of us, surrounded by rooms, everything looks new. The receptionist Farzad speaks English very well and even shows us a room.

We explain to him, that we were looking for his place but nobody knew about it. He explains that this is a new place and the website is not yet finished. We like very much what we see and make a reservation for tomorrow. The price is good too. Along a tunnel of lights, we come to the holy shrine of Shah-e Cherag, a martyr who died here. Then we need a Chador. It is not so clear how to do this. An elderly man then directed us toward the information counter. There we learn, tourists need a guide for this monument. We have to wait until our international guide is picking us up.

The young woman is very pleasant, we get a Chador for free and she is helping us putting that big piece of cloth on proper. It looks like a bedsheet, with flowers. Now we are ready and walk in. The first part is newer, only opened two years ago. The older part is much nicer, with marble, teak wood, glass, mirror work, gold and silver and lots of colorful painted tiles. His brother Mohammed is also lying here in a tomb right next to Ahmed. Then a kid starts to call for his mother, mamaaa, again and again. Everybody can hear it but Mama! I have to go for a pee and realize, the kid sits on the toilet.

I use the other one, no problem. Finally, after about 10 minutes, the mother is relieving the poor kid from his misery. Our laundry is hanging in the patio, everything is dry. I take my pants but when Conni wants to pick up the rest, the woman of the house tells us; money first, then clothes. But then the woman is just stuffing the cloths into a bag. Our blouses are already wrinkled badly so Conni asks the woman to iron our things. For that price I think it is not asked too much. At the hotel Forough we are welcomed very friendly by the beautiful Shiva. Everything is clear, we just throw our bags into the sweet room and make our way over to the Arg-e Karim Khan, an old fort near the Shohada Square.

Arg-e Karim Khan was built during the Zand Dynasty. It served as the home for Karim Khan. During the Qajar Dynasty it was used as a stronghold and seat of the government. Later is was used as a prison and today it is a museum. The outer walls are 14 meters high. Along the west side of the fort, there is a park and a pedestrian zone. The wall is renovated, the tower on the south west side is leaning outwards a little. It looks like it might fall over soon but on the inside, they secured the tower with a huge metal ring. The decoration, done by placing bricks in an offset way, looks very nice, special.

In the inner courtyard, there are different sized pools surrounded by trees, offering wonderful shade. There are many rooms and wall paintings. In one room a scene from the old times is imitated with men dolls in traditional dresses. In the underground, there is a beautiful marble bath. We continue to the Vakil Bazaar. The beautiful mosque is right by the north entrances. The painted tiles on the walls are wonderful, very fine flower work, a little different from the ones in Esfahan. We also find the renovated Caravanserai, there is a coffee shop in the midst of the courtyard, only western tourists are sitting there.

The vaults of the bazaar look great, the ceiling is high and it is pleasantly cool in here. Most anything you want is offered here. In a short narrow alley, we find a street seller offering fresh Falafel. Now we dive back into the colorful and laid-back bazaar. Time for siesta, back to the hotel. We only go back out again at around 20h. We are looking for the Peyma office to get a bus ticket. But we are told, there only is an office at the bus terminal.

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In a corner building is a small coffee shop, what do my eyes hit upon in there? I have to tell John his answer to my text: At the juice shop we drink a fresh Melon juice, very refreshing. In front of the little Zand BBQ shop we look at a lot of grilled chickens going around and spontaneously decide to eat here. The big woman speaks English, she offers us a good price for a plate of crispy looking chicken, salad and bread. Our Mama host tells us, she has three children and she grew up in Russia. She does not have nice words for Iranians or her husband and Conni and I are a little annoyed.

It was very good then, but we do not try it. There is loud noise in Dating sites for tall people street, a brawl between two women is going on. We pay and doodle back to our oasis. It is wonderful to sit in the quiet courtyard. The evening temperatures are very pleasant. This morning there was an electro mobile in front of our hotel. It has seats for about 6 passengers plus driver. The sitting rows are covered with a sun roof. The driver is beaming a big smile seeing we are interested in his vehicle. There is one advantage to wearing a head scarf — you never have a bad hair day!

Sleep was refreshing and wonderful. I get up at 9h, the breakfast buffet in the courtyard looks nice, homemade jam, toast, Ash the local breakfast soupcheese, fig cookies, dates, coffee and tea. Another helpful girl at the reception calls the Peyman office to make a reservation for our VIP bus to Kerman. She also explains to us, how to get to the Eram garden. So, we go across the street and catch bus number 1 towards Namazi Square. Also here, we have to sit in the back. Only men are allowed to sit in the front half. When we get out, the bus driver is nicely waiting for me to bring him the money.

We are walking past by a cloth shop. It looks good, big and we take a look at some beautiful examples of Mantos, as they call the coats here. In the palace of Kakh-e Eram from the Qajar erathere is a small shop with drinks, honey and other sweets. In an adjacent room they sell souvenirs. From the outside the palace is beautiful and richly decorated with the usual Shirazy flower paintings. It is pleasant walking the garden in the shade of the threes. They also have a rose garden, other flowers, herbs, palm trees, bushes, a little pond with carp and a stream where Iranians take a foot bath and so do we, ahh wonderful.

Refreshed we continue our way towards the Aramgah-e Hafez. First along the Eram Blvd, across the wonderful Azadi park. Families and friends have picnic under the trees and enjoy their Friday off. We wonder what happened to Ramadan, then I remember the fast is only starting on Saturday, 27th. On our walk we pass a supermarket and pick up some water and snacks. A few steps further we find a veg- and fruit-market and buy a small watermelon. In another park, we find an art-gallery with metal sculptures that remind of Jean Tinguely, the Swiss artist. We find a place in the shade and eat our lunch. Right next door we then find our Hafez mausoleum. The tomb of the famous poet Khwaja Shams-ud-Din Muhammad Hafez is in the beautiful and peaceful Musalla garden.

On the platform sits the long, white grave stone, of course engraved with one of his verses. The ceiling of the pavilion is richly decorated. Behind is a small and old palace that Naked sauna for couple in marv dasht a souvenir shop, some pictures from old times are hanging on the walls. For a while we are sitting on the steps in front of the pavilion, watching people. Suddenly there is a man sitting next to us, standing right in front of us is his friend, ready to shoot a picture! I saw it coming and jump up and behind the nearest pillar. Conni right behind me. No gentlemen, this is not the way to do this. At least asking would have been in place.

Some men just think they can do whatever they like, but then there are many more, very kind and with good manners. On our way back to the hotel, Conni says; I think I hear sound like from a swimming pool! We walk along a wall and come to a little window. Peeping through we nearly fall into a coma! There it is, a swimming pool, yes and of course only men are hanging around the pool, swimming and having a good time. Unbelievable, effrontery this is! And women have to be packed into layers of cloths and melt in the heat! Today on our way back to the hotel several times some male creatures kind of hit on us. Screaming out of their car, one guy even pinching Conni in her but, little boys throwing pebbles at us and then run away.

It also struck me, that many men any age are wearing short sleeve shirts of all kinds. This did not happen in the 90is. One good thing today was the lighter traffic going through the city. This made it easier to cross the streets. The otherwise quite friendly Iranians become yobbish in the car and would never stop for pedestrians Saturday morning at 6h the alarm clock is waking us up. The hotel has arranged for a taxi. At the bus terminal, we are escorted to our bus office where our reserved tickets are waiting for us. The luggage is loaded and we can take our seats.

The bus is not leaving though because we are only 4 or 5 passengers. Just before 8h one more person joins us Sluts in sheering then we are leaving. The crew is serving cookies and juice and we have two stops. That is so nice of Easy hook up apps. For a while the area is very dry and flat, only in the background some mountains are visible. In the region of Estahban it is green for a short time, then back into the desert. Short, scrubby bushes are growing here. Back into hilly area, scraggy mountains coming closer again and on the horizon we can even see some snowy mountains.

The drive brings us over some mountain passes and around 16h we reach Kerman. The terminal is very modern and looks rather new. We go inside, I want to ask around for Mohsen, an Iranian who used to be the manager of the bus terminal 18 years ago. He always helped us with repairs and translations and we could also stay with him. Several men try to help even find somebody who speaks English but nobody knows Mr. The hotel Amin is known and a taxi brings us there. Already as we enter the hotel a feeling sneaks up, they have seen better times here. The woman at the reception is busy with her smart phone and ignores us.

When she finally finds time for us, Conni is even allowed to look at one of the rooms. She comes back feigning excitement. It is smelly in the alleys and the room is tatty, no way we are staying here. After consulting our guide book, we go outside and look for a taxi. The taxi driver we find does not speak English and he does not understand hotel Akhavan. We still get into the car and the driver starts asking around. It looks like we do not pronounce the hotel name right, Achavan, not Akhavan and Sudachi, not Sudoki! The driver manages to find our destination and we are very happy to see the very inviting looking Akhavan hotel near the Sudoki square.

The happy man at the reception is welcoming us with a big smile. Yes, he has a room with bathroom. Everything looks fine, now we only have to find an agreeable price. Because he quotes the price in Euro, we first bargain him down to US Dollars, then convert the Dollars into Rials and then rounding down a little. Now everybody seems happy. The room price also includes breakfast and dinner. The hotel offers different kind of Casual sex dating in pasadena ca 91101, we take the paper with us to study it over dinner. Internet connection is very good here, but not in the room.

In front of our room we have comfy sofa chairs, from there I can skype-call home. Food is only served at We start to chat with the Italian from La Spezia at the next table. He travels on his motorbike. Our conversation is very interesting and fun. It is pleasant and refreshing to talk to another traveler. Many tourists do not even great each other in the streets. Often in countries where not so many travelers or tourists are seen, they great each other, not here. Lucky the locals are so friendly and welcoming. Back in the lobby we discuss the offered tours again and can ask some more questions.

Finally, we decide to do one of the tours. The host wants 50 Euros, I tell him; we only have Dollars, so 50 Dollars it is. Taxi with AC, no food and no entry fees included. Our tour starts at 9h. Our chauffeur is already waiting, his name is Mashid Roshed and he looks very sympathetic, so far. We are driving something over an hour, there are two Police check-points, they control who is coming and going, since we are going in the direction of the Beluchi desert. We also have to wear seat belts, even in the back seats. Our first goal is Rayen, a beautiful, quaint little town.

We visit the old adobe fort, the renovations here are nearly finished. We can scramble around and up walls nearly everywhere. We find steps that lead up on top of walls, just need to be careful not to damage these fragile mud walls. The views from the walls and the roof of the main building, the former Government House, are superb. In the background towers Haraz, a snow mountain, ca. Now we continue towards the Colored Mountains. Unfortunately, the famous colorful relief is not so apparent in the midday light. But one can see what they are talking about. Many natural layers of stones are exposed including green and rosy quartz. Mountain range after mountain range rank endlessly, it is impressive.

While Conni and I take pictures, Mashid Roshed prepares tea and sets up a little plate with coconut cookies in the trunk. The cookies are very good. We take pictures with Mashid too and he is flashing his biggest smile for us. Our next destination is Mahan. First, we take a lunch break in the beautiful garden Bagh-e Shahzde. In the shade of the trees a family and a few men are enjoying lunch too. Through the center of the garden and the palace flows a water canal, cascading down beautifully, intermittent by fountains, elegantly throwing water into the center piece.

We eat a watermelon and get another great smile from Mashid for offering him a cut too. It is so peaceful here and we also can bathe our feet in the cooling water. The lovely palace in the garden was built ca. He was a Sufi Dervish, focused on universal love and service. He died and was more than years old. The beautiful cupola was added later. In the courtyard is a traditional restaurant where we enjoy a berry ice cream. So far the tour was pleasant and relaxed. When we come back to the taxi, our driver is smiling again and surprising us with two bottles of ice water.

Now we are driving out into the real desert. We are coming towards mountains and Conni wonders where we are going. And there it is, a tunnel going through the mountain! We are on the way to Shahdad and the Kaluts. Sleepy Shahdad is the largest town in the Takhab area, a group of about 30 oasis villages wedged between the Payeh Mountains to the south and the vast emptiness of the Dasht-e Lut to the north, the salt desert. Shahdad is fiercely hot in summer. The highest temperatures ever measured out here are F 70C. We stop near a building in the middle of nowhere. And we wonder what we are doing here. Maybe he has to pee? We wander out into the desert, spotting adobe looking ruins out there.

But suddenly Mashid is calling us and waving. He really disappeared from the surface, he is bringing us underground, where locals have built caves along a little stream. It is cool down here, the caves make total sense in this hot place. On the surface, one can only see openings that remind of a drawing well, they provide fresh air for the caves. We are giggling, while Mashid wanted to show us something, we just walk out into the hot and dry desert! Mashid seems to know this area well. He is showing us an old Caravanserai that is being renovated and then we are going to a private house. She is serving tea, unfortunately we cannot talk much because Conni and I do not speak Farsi.

Sahine is showing us a guest book where her hospitality as well as her chicken dish is praised. Next to the main house, out in the courtyard, she has a few rooms, where guests can sleep on the carpets, just like the locals. Now we are cooled down nicely, ready to go out to the Kaluts, the desert with stone formations, formed by wind and weather. The landscape is remarkable. Mashid parks the car in the shade, behind a high rock. From here Conni and I are walking up the hill to enjoy a great view into the area. It looks like we are on the moon, or in a fairy tale.

We are going back to our taxi to check on Mashid. He has prepared a honeydew melon for us, wow, so good and exactly what we needed. Mashid is so lovely and always has a big smile for us. For sunset, more cars with some locals are parking nearby. The evening light is dipping the sand and rock-formations in a warm amber, darkness comes fast. The trip back to our hotel takes 2,5 hours. The younger of the hotel brothers is greeting us with a happy: Well rested we attack our next day, starting with tea and a visit to the travel agency next door.

The friendly woman can make a reservation for our bus to Bam. At the Shohada square we hop in a bus heading for the bazaar. An old woman gets squashed between the automatic bus doors. She just about makes it inside. Nobody is offering her a seat, so I offer her mine. Conni can ask her where we need to get out and she happily helps us. Not all the shops are open yet. In the first part are many jewelry shops with lots of sparkle and glitter. The most beautiful shops we find around the courtyard where the mosque is.

The dried apricots we buy are very tasty. We also see many silver, copper and metal pots and plates. Some are richly decorated and some of the pots are huge. After our bazaar stroll it is time to go on. It is easy to get a taxi at one of the side entrances of the bazaar. One taxi driver is jumping on us, he speaks English, so he says! We explain to him, that we first need to go to our hotel, then on to the bus terminal. Mohammed insists, that only European women are beautiful. We have to disagree, having seen many beauties here in Iran. I get tired of just repeating the same over and over again, so we go into the hotel. He then talks to Mohammed while we get our luggage that we were allowed to store here.

Now everything seems fine and Mohammed is bringing us to the bus terminal. We think he does not think anymore that only European women are beautiful, giggle giggle! At the terminal, we are escorted immediately to our bus. While waiting we meet two young and talented women. They are sisters and also going to Bam. The younger of the sisters is a painter, they show us pictures on their smart phone that look great. The older sister does embroidery, she has a shawl she just finished, also very beautifully done. Now the bus has arrived and we follow the lovely women.

They have the seats next to us and so we keep chatting and even take a selfie on our journey. The drive takes three hours, a taxi brings us to our hotel. The gate to the Akbar hostel is open and we step into the courtyard. Minutes later an elderly man shows up and brings tea for all of us. We all introduce our selves and have a pleasant chat with Mr. After writing into the guest registry we finally can get to the room and take the long desired shower. It was very warm all day. The more south east we are traveling, the warmer it gets. It is clearly warmer here in Bam than in Kerman, to be exact, F 43C. The room is a little grubby, lucky Conni has bargained the price down to 25 USD. The carpet has not seen a vacuum cleaner in a while and somebody has eaten cookies like the cookie monster, not too long ago.

The bed sheets are not above all doubts but we now need to get rid of our rags and take a cold shower. After this everything feels much better. We go back down to the simple courtyard. Since the earthquake in everything had to be rebuilt and I think there is a lack of money. The rosy times are over. To a big degree the overland business is down and not so many other tourists are coming to Bam anymore. Akbar is in a good mood, he suggested already that we should accompany him to one of the schools in town. That could be fun and a nice change, so off we go to school.

The three English teachers, all women, are taking a break and so we have time for a chat. Their English is very good and so is their pronunciation. Conni and I are separated and go to different classes, all boys. My teacher is introducing me and then the boys are bombarding me with questions. First about soccer, do I know Ronaldo or Messi? What is my favorite team? Do I know Jennifer Lopez? Who is my favorite singer? Then they have a lot of questions about Switzerland, why I come to Iran and I tell them about my overland trips.

How many countries have I visited? What hair color do Swiss women have? And lots more they want to know. The last question from the boys is: I answer; my husband! The boys, all between 12 and 15 years old, are very interested and eager, their English is already very good. It is also interesting to hear what they are asking. Akbar seems to be liked by the teachers, so we hear. He is coming here every day and he also has other schools he visits. He is kind of a supervisor or advisor. That was a very nice evening so far and a beautiful experience. I feel refreshed and could forget about our dingy room. He takes us for dinner to his family place. The apartment looks new and very dapper.

His lovely mother is also sitting there. It is clear to see that they are used to western people. Mohammed grew up in the Akbar hostel that was and is run by his parents. Nice vegetable stew with rice, bread and yogurt. We talk about old times and it gets late very fast. Back in the hostel, Akbar is sitting in the courtyard with some friends. When I lift the pillow to put it aside, my eyes spot a used handkerchief! Goose bumps on my skin and a shudder go through my body. I spread the cover blanket over the bed and use my lunghi to cover me. Because of the heat that will come soon we want to get up early. Quickly packing our bags and off we go.

As we walk along the road a man and his daughter stop and ask us whether we are going to the Arg-e Bam. The daughter speaks English and they invite us to give us a ride to the site. They are on the way to school which is nearby so they tell us. That is so nice and we happily accept. Arg-e Bam was the biggest mud building in the world. The place was originally an oasis and got occupied by the Arabs in AD. In the 10th century the citadel was built and quickly became the center for textile manufacturing and trade. Later, 19th century, two kilometers outside the adobe city a new city was founded, the modern Bam.

Old Bam was used as a military compound, only later it became a tourist attraction. Already at the entrance we can see, a lot of work is still waiting to be done. There are many workers everywhere in the alleys and on the walls. We are greeted friendly and many are even waving. Soon we come to a workshop. The carpenter is inviting us into his place and shows us behind the scene work and places. Not far down the path more workers are gesticulating, they also want to show us something. Ah, here they make the mud, a mix of hay, water, dirt and something that looks like flour.

Now we come to the main place where the entrance up to the citadel is. This pretty much guarantees that the number of Birthday parties you will ever have will be between 1 and 2. At least until you meet a gorgeous woman who decides to celebrate your half birthday on June 25th every year, and you fall in love, get married, have babies and live deliriously happy ever after. The second thing that will absolutely ruin Christmas, is being raised on a farm. We had a herd. Since I was driving from the age of 12, and we always had a bunch of vehicles around for the taking, asking for a car was not even something you had to do. But a couple years ago in Faryab, I was having an outrageously bad Christmas.

I was missing my home and family; was assigned the task of escorting some incredibly unprepared and unsuitable people for Afghan service around Qaysar and Maymaneh, and the weather was bitterly cold. Riding in the back of an open truck we hitchhiked a ride in, with my blanket wrapped tightly around me, I was wishing I was anywhere else but here. To make things worse, an Afghan National Policeman was blown up by an IED on the way to our destination, and we ended up taking him to get medical help. The folks I was with were not dealing with this well, with one gawker and a couple turning green around the gills.

When we arrived, what happened next was somewhere beyond surreal. Just to touch on the high points, I think I consumed my weight in pork products, chocolate and alcoholic punch during dinner. Then, I sat in a daze, while a Japanese woman, who had been educated in the Northeast US, proceeded to vent to me about how one of the people I was accompanying had insulted her deeply. This was funny on two levels. First, I agreed with her completely on this offensive and ill-suited person who I was shepherding around, but this did nothing to slow her down from her hour long rant. Second, this completely Japanese woman had the prototypical clenched jaw Katherine Hepburn Connecticut Main Line accent and way of speaking that was beyond hilarious based on her ethnicity.

To make it even funnier, instead of turning her head, she would turn her whole body, and punctuated her points by pounding the low table between us with her fist. Attempts to go back to my vehicle to retrieve a pair of shorts were stopped by these descendants of Vikings, many with forearms seemingly bigger than my waist. Drinking Stella Artois, of course. It was bad enough that I was attempting to ignore the state of undress, which I was not particularly comfortable with, but one of the Valkyrie was a relatively important person in Norway, out visiting the Norwegian troops and for some reason relative fame makes nudity even more awkward.

After an awkward and uncomfortable time in the sauna, I found a reason to withdraw, more or less gracefully, and then retired for the evening, in my ersatz bed, where I immediately started to freeze. After a very unsatisfactory night of almost sleep, I arose, and went out to actually get something done. I visited with the Director of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock for Faryab Province, and over chai and snacks called nokel of raisins, almonds and dry seasoned ramen noodles, we discussed germinating pistachio trees at the Faryab tree nursery.

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