Our savior arrived and was aptly named Mohammad. He is a punky young kid with a funky hairdo and an attitude to match. We are all quite happy to see a new and fresh spirit in the form of our new guide though he is 3 hours late.
When checking out and the bellhop takes our stuff to the car he sees me take out 30,000 rials and he says, “That’s too much. Give him 10,000.” I say, “Oh, really? Our last guide told me to give all our guys 30,000. He checks with the woman behind the counter and she agrees 10,000 is the right amount. He then says, “Did he tell you to pay that much?” I said, “Oh, ya! And so much more!” He says, “I hate Esfahanians! They’re all like that!” I do recall now that our guide prior to the grouchy man said, “Esfahanians are known for being serious businessmen.” I guess that her way of subtly warning us. Anyway, I mention that he was quite aggressive in the money department and he immediately gets on his phone to file a complaint on our behalf. Apparently the city of Esfahan will only allow their own tour guides to work in their city and networking with the boys is all part of their deal. This guide has been trying to crack into the city saying the guides there are not well qualified. It was our one sour experience. He’s got me writing to the Ministry of Tourism to see if it’ll help guides from other cities be able to work there as well.
Graffiti while driving through Tehran on our way.
He is the first guide who drives himself so I get shotgun! Leg room and not being between my darling children for the 6 hour drive we have ahead of us is a dream. We are gaining a new perspective on the 20-something life in Iran since this time it is coming from a male perspective. He’s lived in the states and Europe so has a good understanding of what life on the other side is like. Interestingly enough he says that Iranian girls are much freer than their counterparts in Europe, even in quite liberated countries like Sweden. The difference with European girls is that since they are modern women they do what they want by choice, whereas their Iranian counterparts are trying to prove themselves as liberated as what they imagine girls in the West to be based on what they see in movies. Many are trying to prove to the others that they are not going to be regulated by anyone else and in the process forget about regulating themselves. This is the same issue we have with teens in our country- they confuse rebellion with freedom. Acting out of anger against an establishment is not the same thing as making a decision based on what one wants to do. That has very little to do with true freedom.
We arrive at the hotel at about 8pm and in the hotel lobby is an Aussie in shorts with his legs up on the desk checking his emails. It is a shock first of all to see someone else with blond hair after 15 days, but more to see his absolute casualness. It is not really OK to wear shorts here, even for men. All the guide books warn against it -but here he is in the snow with outside temps at -2C sitting in shorts with fuzzy blond leg hairs sticking out. On the one hand I am disturbed by the lax attitude in a country that requires, well… uptightness. And on the other hand I am so happy to see such familiarity and informality I want to kiss him. He’s half my age so I refrain but return a very hearty hello to his wide smiled, “Ello.” This is the 2nd to last day of our trip and the first recognizable tourists we’ve seen other than a Japanese group at the Imam Square and suddenly I’m excited to go back home. Seeing this one small display of comfort says so much to me. I think for the most part we Americans are a bunch of slobs compared to much of the world, but in all of that sloppiness is an ease that is difficult to describe. It’s like a pair of comfy jammies- not always appropriate in public, but oh so cozy.