Upon hearing the news of the recent earthquakes near Tabriz in Northwest Iran, my mind went immediately to the time we spent in that region last November, including a day trip from Tabriz to the village of Kandovan where people live in fairy chimneys, caves made from volcanic ash deposited thousands of years ago.
Local history tells of inhabitants from nearby villages fleeing to these caves more than 700 years ago during the time of the Mongol invasion. The cone-like structures have remained homes ever since.
During our visit last November, with a dusting of snow just covering the ground, the village was as alive as ever. Children used the caves to play hide and seek, fathers dragged stubborn mules laden with saddlebags in and about them, and mothers hung laundry on lines stretched from one peak to the next. At the base of the hill, vendors sold meters of surprisingly addictive pressed dried pomegranate and apricot sheets to unsuspecting travelers like us.
We hear that Kandovan was not badly affected by the recent earthquake and that life still carries on in the fairy chimneys.