The Iranian New Year arrived today and it seemed the whole country was out celebrating. As we rolled into Tabas, the only major town in the middle of the Dasht-e-Kavir desert, we first noticed tents and crowds of people around the mosque. Many little girls particularly caught our eye, skipping and running alongside their families in bright pink dresses and headscarves. Everywhere the streets were bustling until we entered the hammam. It seemed we were the only ones who wanted a bath on the first day of the year! All the better for us. We had the showers entirely to ourselves and it felt fantastic to wash away a few days worth of dirt and sweat.
Thank goodness for Bijan who managed to lead us straight to the hammam, something we’d have struggled to find on our own. Aside from the company and friendship, Bijan’s ability to communicate with the world around us has been a real luxury the last couple of days.
After scrubbing up, we bought some groceries and headed to the local gardens for a picnic lunch, relaxing under the shade of palm trees. It’s really the only way to go when the heat reaches its peak at midday. Of course we stood out as tourists (even Bijan, although he’s Iranian, often gets mistaken for a foreign visitor) so plenty of people came over to say hello. One lady greeted us so enthusiastically, kissing Friedel on the cheeks and forehead and smiling very kindly, we really got the impression that she would have loved to come with us. There was a real sparkle in her eyes as she looked and us and the bicycles and wished us well.
By the time we got on the road again in the afternoon a strong headwind had arrived, which made the going difficult. That made the decision easy to stop when we saw an irrigation channel (great for washing in) and some palm trees a few hundred meters back from the road. We hoped to spend the night star gazing but it wasn’t to be. The full moon and some light clouds put an end to those thoughts. Instead it was straight to bed for some reading and sleep before another big day tomorrow.