“Isn’t Iran dangerous?” “Don’t you need our government’s permission to go there?”
“These were the most common reactions we got this spring after telling friends we were about to spend three weeks in Iran. (The answer to both questions is “No.”)
Since many Americans have questions like this we felt that it was important that we write a personal perspective — a Iran travelogue detailing our private tour in Iran in April 2014.
Before making our travel plans, we spoke to friends who’d been there recently and who gave glowing reports of their trips. My husband Steve had even organized a tour a few years ago for an international group from Santa Fe where we lived at the time.
That trip for half-a-dozen people was a grand success; but of course there was no guarantee we would be as welcomed now as they had been then. We could never have imagined the enthusiastic reception we were about to receive.
By the end of our over-2,200-mile journey, spending nights in more than a dozen Iranian cities and towns, along with stopping at countless historical sites in ancient Persia (as Iran was called), we can now report that the whole-hearted welcome we got from the many Iranians we met along the way far exceeded our expectations.
It was, in fact, as heart-warming a reception as we’ve been given in our thirty years of traveling to all parts of the globe. As for tourists who’d come to Iran from other countries, we encountered dozens of Germans, Italians, French, English and more. But only one small group of Americans.
Each day, once people discovered where we were from, their immediate and excited response was to grab our hands, exclaiming, ‘We love America!” and “We love Americans!” Then they would hold out a bag of dried fruit or nuts, offer us tea and ask us to join their picnic (which families all over Iran seem to have at the drop of a hat)— in a park, a garden, by the side of the road or even next to a sidewalk.
Some even invited us to their home. Many wanted to have their pictures taken with us and almost all asked what we thought of their country and had no difficulty differentiating between our two countries’ governments and their people.
Before this trip, we had read about and heard of a few places in Iran—Tehran, Persepolis 4/25—23.23.08, Isfahan, Shiraz.
Steve had traveled there back in the 70s when the Shah was still in power. But the news coming from that country since 1979, especially filtered through the U.S. media, has created what we believe is a distorted picture of what life is really like in Iran …not to mention, the attitudes of its citizens. Except for heavy city traffic, our reviews, as you will see, are glowing.”
So we invite you to read about our journey over the next several blog posts…