The Legacy of Xerxes



Dear Diary

Near to the city, the giant archeological site of legendary Persepolis is excavated and open for visitors. It is a place that we cannot miss. Alexander the Great destroyed the capital of his enemies Xerxes and Darius long time ago, but the ruins of the walls and the massive statues are still impressive. We haggle with a few taxi drivers to find one to bring us to there and we collect our money to invest it for a tourist guide.

The place is huge, but we want know, what we are looking at. The place is impressive and it was worth to come here. Near to the ruins of the city, we visit the tombs of the ancient Persian kings Darius and Xerxes in the Necropolis of Narq. It is interesting, that these places have their names in Greek language.

We return to Shiraz and the city is as dead as Persepolis. It is the 13th day after Nowruz and this is a day of bad luck, the people say. That is why they leave their homes and go to the countryside that the bad luck does not find them. They left us alone with it in the city. No shops, no teahouses, no bazar is open today. At least I enjoy making pictures of the city without people. I find a street that is covered with colorful umbrellas and take many shots.

We decide to return and sit on the roof of the hotel in Shiraz and enjoy the view until deep into the night. We have tea, shisha and Sam brought a board of backgammon. What else do we need?

We are sad to start the last day in Iran, knowing that we will not have another night in this amazing country. We enjoy the food and the smell one more time and the evening arrives much faster than we notice. Another time we climb up the mountain to have a last sunset. A man invites me to join him and his family for their tea and nuts picnic. In the Ta’arof way, I refuse a few times until I sit down to them. They are Kurdish people, partly living in Shiraz. After the light has faded, they invite us again to join them to dinner. Again, I refuse politely and we let them know, that we have to get to the airport in the night and that our luggage is still in the hotel. They insist, however, and offer to get our luggage from the hotel, so Uwe and I, without other plans, agree to the invitation.

While we are taking the car with the youngest son, the rest of the family is going ahead with another car. It seems like his job is to entertain us for a little time, so the family can tidy up the apartment. Probably that is why he stops at a place far away from his home and tells us, “There is the best ice crème of Shiraz. Do you want to try it?” We refuse again, this time honestly. “Okay, but I will have one. Please, stay in the car.” He returns not with one bowl, but two, and both are meant for us. It is indeed hard to escape Persian hospitality. We still have to go to the other side of the city, to get to our place, get the luggage and say goodbye to Sam.

We arrive at their apartment, which is a very big place. The family appears to be very conservative, though. While the men are sitting on the carpet with nuts and fruits in front of them, the women sit on the other side of the hall (“living room” would not be the correct term) and only smile at us. If the father has any idea about a wish that we could have he tells his wife or his daughter to bring some more fruits or tea. In the middle of our conversation, the one son that speaks English excuses himself, finds a small carpet and starts praying. We notice that the youngest son is missing. Apparently, he left right when we arrived. Then he is back again, his hands full with plastic bags, from which the steam carries the scent of delicious food to us. To provide us fast with good food they had to buy it.

We have a wonderful evening with a lot of food and hospitality. Months later they will still video call me. When it is time we head of to the airport and even waiting for boarding we meet new people. This country and its people is incredible and Uwe and I decide that we have to come back again definitely. This promise we were planning for 2020. Because of Covid-19, we had to postpone it.

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