Yazd ... 17/09 - 20/09
The Silk Road hotel is an old renovated house in the heart of the old city. The rooms overlook on a large courtyard with a fountain. We are lucky, we get a very small room on the roof. There is just enough space for two matresses on the ground, it´s cosy! And we have a great view on the minarets and the shiny blue domes. The atmosphere is very relax, there are a lot of travellers. At breakfast, we let the time slip. We meet Bernt, a Dutch cyclist, and Karim, a French guy on a 2-week holiday.
The old city is made of mud. We wander through a maze of small brown streets. A tempting smell comes out of a small bakery. People are queuing to buy bread for breakfast and dinner. A watermelon stall lightens a street of a green light.
We meet Parvin and Elham in front of the mosque and they show us some great hotels: rooms decorated with taste, yards with lots of flowers. In the old days, badgirs (from bad, wind, and gir, catch) helped to keep houses cool. The wind runs inside these towers through holes, cools down when passing above a pond and here is natural air-conditioning!
The next day sees us again in the old city. We have fallen in love with the quiet streets. In the evening, we go to the Silence towers to watch the sunset. The towers used to be a zoroastrian cemetary. Zoroastriasm is believed to be the oldest monotheist religion in the world, later replaced by Islam. A few thousands Zoroastrians remain in Iran and India. We actually learnt that the Sikh religion (600 years old) has relatively similar beliefs and customs.
The Zoroastrians believe in the purity of the natural elements. So, to avoid soiling them, they wouldn´t bury their deads. Instead, they would place them at the top of the towers and vultures would clean the bodies. A lovely detail: a priest would sit with the deads and record which eye was taken first. The right one meant good things for the dead. Since the 60´s, the Zoroastrians bury their deads in concrete boxes so they don´t soil the earth.
From the top of the towers, we have a great view of the city and the sunset. We get back to the hotel hitch-hiking. "All we can eat" buffet at the Orient hotel, 4 different dishes, at last we can sample the iranian cuisine! The boys drink a lot of beers, non-alcoholised but it´s better than nothing!
On our last day, we go on a day trip to visit some desert villages. Most of them are in ruins. Mud walls require regular care otherwise they go back to dust. We also see Chak Chak, a famous zoroastrian temple. The village clings to the mountain with a spectacular view on the arid valley below.
We leave Yazd with regrets, it is one of those places where we can relax and stay more than we originally planned. It is also here that our paths are splitting with Dimitri and Bruno. We go back to Tehran and they travel to Bandar-Abbas from where they will take a boat for Dubai and then fly to Delhi. We are not supposed to meet again but we never know ...