We apologize for the silence on our blog over the last week. Our travels across Iran, while rich and deeply fulfilling, have teamed up with slow and censored internet, a blistering pace of full days that end late, and an attempt to process it all that feels like a slow drip.
Now that we've dispensed with the excuses, we offer a few snapshots of our journey to not-so-traveled Western Iran — Hamadan, Kermanshan, and Ahvaz — where our path through the country begins.
Our road trip took us from Tehran west then south though ancient, pre-Islamic civilizations — the Elamite Ziggurat of Tchogha Zabnil (1250 BC), Tomb of Esther (yes, the Esther from the bible), remains of the Achaemenian dynasty at Susa (Shush) (6th century BC), reliefs of Achaemenian King Darius the Great at Bisotun (6th century BC), and the Sassanid Empire sites of Bishapur city and Taq-e Bostan rock reliefs (3rd-7th century AD).
Use caution the next time you use the word “old.”
Along the way, we soaked up present culture. We met Iranian people, we poked around markets, we collected more warm greetings and invitations than we knew what to do with. We even dropped in on a roadside kebab stand frequented by packs of jovial Kurdish truckers making their way from Iraqi Kurdistan.
Although this segment of the trip doesn't feature any of the dazzling bits of Persian design and architecture that we'll be serving up in later posts, it provided the historical and cultural base from which to begin to comprehend early Persian history and the surprising ethnic diversity of the Iranian people.
In and Around Kermanshah