Is a lovely city with lots of sprawling boulevards and parks along the main river. This is also where the famed bridges run. We have left our lovely guide and driver that we have come to adore so much. Our goodbyes were actually quite sad. We hugged and said we’d stay in contact. Then there was our driver -a very sweet man probably in his 50’s. We’ve spent many days with him and have eaten all of our meals together. I want to hug him but then remember I can’t. Then shake his hand? Nope, still touching. He places his hand on his heart and smiles a very gentle smile, his eyes look deeply into mine. This gesture without touch or words I find more intimate than many hugs I’ve received – particularly by those people who thrust their shoulder at you and then whack you on the back. It is honest and genuine. I feel my eyes moisten. Then our bellhop summons us towards the elevator and we leave each other. When they return to their car they find a small gift waiting for them on their seats. Just as our elevator door opens she runs back into the lobby thanking us for the gift and another round of hugs ensues. She promises to write and offers to send a particular confection that girls have been devouring by the box to us at any time. It is all very sweet and I’m trying very hard not to cry! She has definitely left her mark on our lives and in our hearts in the very unique shape of herself. She has finals for university and in the morning we will meet our new guide. A man. I requested a woman guide and was under the assumption that we would have the same guide the entire time but that is not the case. The girls are bummed and have lots of resistance to a man guide. I am of the mindset that things happen as they should so am open to this change of plans. I must admit that I still have much inner resistance and some fear to looking at many of the men I see around me.
Today as we drove from Yazd to Esfahan we were stopped 3 separate times by police. The first time our driver was asked to pull to the side and we were not let through the mandatory stop. Our driver was questioned about many things, asked for his license, registration, etc. In the end he was reprimanded by the police man, who wears a machine gun across his chest, about his muddy license plates. Our driver gets out and wipes off the plates with some tissue. He gets back in the car and is laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Our guide also laughs and says, “What a stupid man.” I relay what has happened to the girls and they say, “He should’ve seen the car yesterday!” as our car was covered in mud from driving through the flooded city. The second stop happens and I am looking at the officer with inner distain waiting for him to do something equally as irrational. He pokes his head into the car and looks at the girls and smiles a huge toothy smile and says, “Salam.” (hello) I am proved wrong. He is dressed in fatigues, has a thick wooly beard and looks just like all the posters of terrorists hanging in our local post office. I know I have more work to do on releasing judgment of these men. Our new guide will apparently be with us for the rest of this trip.
Since our guide left us at 3 oclock this afternoon and our new guide will meet us at 9am in the morning it is the first time we are left to ourselves for more than sleeping since we arrived. This is not technically legal as we are Americans and are required to be under licensed supervision at all times.
I think the implication was that we stay in our hotel but instead we relish in our freedom and take a walk along the river and go to a park.
We even order a take out pizza all on our own and are able to read our total in Arabic numbers!
As we walk along it starts raining on us again and the little sister begins to sing,
Rain is falling,
Rain is falling,
Clouds are forming,
Clouds are forming,
And then says, “Sing with me, Mommy.”
“I can’t.” I say.
“You can’t? Why not??”
“It’s illegal for women to sing in public here.”
At this, the big sister bursts out laughing. “Illegal?? How can singing be illegal?”
“It just is.” I say.
“So only I can sing because I’m still young and don’t need my head covered?” says the little sister.
“Yup.” I say.
“Goody!” she replies and goes on skipping along and singing her song.