My Iranian visa expires on 10 July, and I am due to meet my brother in Michigan on the 11th, so hanging around Shiraz waiting for El Guapo to get a starter transplant is not an option. So, everything has been organised:
- The starter is being shipped to the tour agency, who deliver to the mechanic
- The mechanic will restore El Guapo to working order
- A driver will take him to me in Tehran next week
In the meantime, I am continuing my tour as planned with a driver. Yesterday, we drove north to the legendary city of Isfahan. Checked into our hotel in the old city; I went for a walk alone at dusk and ended up at the Jameh Mosque, the oldest in Isfahan (originally a Zoroastrian temple) just as Maghreb prayer was starting.
Today was ”see the sights” day, so naturally we started with the famous Naqsh-e Jahan Square , and visited the Ali Qapu Palace, the Shah mosque, and the incredible royal mosque. After a break for lunch, it was time for another time-honoured Iranian tradition, haggling over a carpet.
Given the sanctions, the fact that it was Ramadan (or Ramazan, as they call it in Iran), and July, there were not a lot of tourists in Isfahan, so I was reasonably confident about getting a good deal. My guide led me to the ”Flying Carpet” gallery, we sat down, had some tea, and started to chat. Carpets were pulled from stacks and laid out on the floor. I had some fairly specific requirements in mind — I needed something for under the dining table — so I needed something rather large.
After some time, we had a ”very nice” and a ”possibly” pile in front of us. Problem was that I wasn’t finding exactly what I wanted. Too many dark colours. There were two with bright greens, yellows and blues, but not quite large enough. We ordered in some lunch. Couriers were dispatched to other rug shops to find something that met my specifications. More carpets arrived. Many were nice, but none were as nice as what I had already rejected. I decided to call it a day, and to return the next day when they had the opportunity to bring more carpets and I had the chance to think things over.
4 July 2015