Historic Yazd & Experiencing Ashura In Shiraz

I will remember Yazd for several things;

1. Beautiful mosques and architecture like the Amir Chakmak complex & Masjid- e Jameh.

2. We visited a mosque where huge mourning-sessions were held because of the holy month Moharam. Men were singing, crying and slapping on their chests symbolising sorrow due the tragic events of Karbala (massacre of Imam Hosseini). Also women, devided from the men, showed their sorrow by listening to the singing men and crying along with them.

3. Yazdi sweets:  can’t describe how delicious they were! Don’t forget to buy some extra boxes.

4. The historic and beautiful alleys of Yazd where you can get lost for hours.

5. The mosquito-massacre at our guesthouse. We kept killing the bastards one by one but they were unbeatable. Every morning we woke up with many mosquito bites, even 5 ones on my cheek since I tried to sleep like a mummie in my sheets trying to avoid them.

6. The slaughter of a sheep in the middle of the street. I was disgusted and couldn’t watch it while many children passed by without even paying attention to it. What.the.hell. 

We knew there wouldn’t be any buses going towards Shiraz because of the festivities around Ashura, so we decided to hitchhike. It would be our first long distance hitchhike attempt! I was superexcited and curious how far we’d get. We got up early, got a cab bringing us to a point where many cars would pass to go towards Shiraz. We stood there for 45 minutes watching friendly-smiling hightly interested Persians passing by in their cars until one car stopped and offered to bring us to Abarkooh. We talked a bit and suddenly the car slowed down because people were offering free lemonade drinks outside. We had that as well and once we reached Abarkooh, we wanted to take our goodbyes. It just wasn’t a pleasant one, because I accidentally -as clumsy that I am-  closed the car portier while the driver’s hand was still inside the car. She was hurt, but still remained very friendly. I was feeling so horrible for doing that to her and apologized many times before she got back into the car and drove away. From there we shared a cab to the highway from where almost all cars would go towards Shiraz. After the taxidriver dropped us off, we started waiting for cars to stop for us again. But many taxidrivers didn’t understand our hitchhiking thing and insisted on getting in their taxis for a very cheap price. At a certain point we couldn’t resist the offers anymore since it was so cheap (cheaper than bus prices) and because we still had a long distance to go, we just gave in. In total it took us 6 hours to reach Shiraz, one hour quicker as the bus would’ve had taken.

We had only one full day in Shiraz which was the day of Ashura. Everything was closed unfortunately because of the festivities on the streets. Experiences which made Shiraz special ;

1. Meeting Najmeh through our friend Nick/Couchsurfing and spending the day with her talking about the cons and pros of living in Iran and differences with Western countries. She showed us around the city and we finished the day off with amazing Persian food and ‘dogh’ (yoghurt drink). 

2. Ashura festivities on the streets; It’s amazing to get insight into unique practices of religions around the world. Asura is the prima day of the holy month, on which Shias throughout the world morn for the slaughtering of holy Imam Hosseini at Karballah around 1400 years ago. Some ‘punish’ themselves to feel what holy Imam Hosseini had felt with his small army and families. However, in Iran self-mutilation with blood involvement has been declared haram bij a fatwa of the Ayatollah so you won’t witness the horrible bleeding that still exists in countries like India, Pakistan and Iraq.

3. Mausoleum of Mir Sayyed Ahmad, the son of the seventh Emam known as Shah-e Cheragh: the most beautiful architecture and mirror-art work we had ever seen. It was breathtaking!

4. Eating @ Haft Khaneh which gives you the ultimate Persian high-culinary experience in Iran.

Recommendation? What do you think yourself after all the things mentioned? I would go back for those Yazdi sweets only, let alone all the other things we missed out on in Yazd and Shiraz because of the short period of time we had.  Don’t get scared of the mosquitos and sheep-slaughtering 😉

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