It’s nearly Valentine’s Day and nothing says love like watching your husband rush down the street to defend your honour. There have been very few incidents during our trip where Friedel has been the target of inappropriate behaviour – even less so in Iran where the vast majority of men behave very respectfully – but today someone decided a grope was a good idea as we were walking our bikes in Shiraz. Friedel’s yell of surprise and anger sent Andrew’s protective-husband instinct into overdrive and he instantly set about chasing the offender. Our pudgy villan didn’t stand a chance against a fit cyclist and let’s just say he limped home with a few bruises. He won’t try that again.
The rest of the day was full of encounters with the kind of wonderful people that will form some of our best memories from Iran. One man stopped his car and leapt out with dishes of rice and meat stew and two bottles of cola for us from a local restaurant. Several people waved and smiled from their cars as they passed and when we arrived at Persepolis two souvenir sellers begged us to come home with them. One man was accompanied by his very charming eight-year old nephew from Australia, who translated for us from Farsi to English and peppered us with questions about our trip. What kind of animals have we seen? Don’t we get tired? And is there really a Santa Claus?
We politely declined offers of a place to stay, knowing that would entail a late night and difficult start tomorrow, but we agreed to come by the family’s home for breakfast in the morning. Our home for the night was in our tent as usual, camping in the gardens around Persepolis. The security guards had no problem with us spending the night and it’s almost as good as an official campsite with as much water on tap as we need and bathrooms. What luxury!