After the Iran of the black veils


"What are we going to negotiate about? I would say, 'Listen, do you see that desert over there? I'm going to show you something.' Then you pick up the phone, call anywhere in Nebraska and say, 'OK, go ahead.' And you throw an atomic bomb in the middle of the desert, where no one is hurt, perhaps a couple of snakes, scorpions or whatever. Then you say, 'see? The next one in downtown Tehran. We talk business. Do you want to be deleted from the map? " - Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson is the leader of the Eurovegas project, the one for which we lick asses and open "eyelets" while watching the evasion of great minds impassively or resign ourselves to the outrageous cuts in R&D, and with both precepts we let out any Prosper future of the country that shelters us. It is that example of a tycoon whose stupidity and ignorance reaches unexpected limits inversely proportional to his more social sensitivity. That example of the most absurd capitalism, accused of making payments to local officials after implanting in Macao (and in Madrid?) Or denounced for obviating the overtime of its workers. But Sheldon Adelson there are many. Too many uninformed illiterates, whose null concern for traveling and knowing the realities of history and peoples leaves in evidence just by opening their mouths, although sometimes you have to go through a simple black cloth to know them ...

Thirty years of black veils

I will never deny accumulation of prejudices that accompanied me when I left for Tehran, and maybe even some fears. The reality, once again, was going to show us the level of pollution to which we are subjected and that directly affect our way of thinking, and during the next 21 days we were headed to discover the true Iran, that which our heart has been brought to provided that the objectives of our cameras have been able to immortalize in one of the most intense experiences we have ever had. Maybe that's why I think I have an interesting story to tell


I never previously imagined the disposition of rejection that the Arabs can cause for the Persians, and although the question of Islam is somewhat contradictory, we cannot forget that the great Persian Empire already existed many centuries before the invasion, with its Zoroastrian religion, its Pahlavi language (the current Farsi is a derivation) and its cuneiform writing .

However, it was probably that identity that led the last Shah to rush, to try to impose a series of abrupt changes that included celebrations of the birth of the Empire, new dates and calendars and to take power to the mullahs, moving away from everything "Arab" and approaching the western with American and British support. And also that Qom arose the figure of Khomeini, and with him and the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The colors gave way to black veils ... and more than 30 years of the most conservative Islamism

For Ayesha, that process that took place between 1978 and 1979, meant that black chadors would become the most repeated set of their wardrobe and the obligation to cover themselves from head to toe hiding the shapes of their body and thus avoiding the dirty look of some outside man, the daily routine.

But within if nothing has changed. Ayesha still loves colors and although she walks sneakily, her stops in the bazaar and what she sees under her clothes, betray her.


In the most important cities they walk alone or in groups of women, never accompanied by a man If not her husband.Sometimes they look like real ghosts that appear in the loneliest streets of Yazd, or in the labyrinthine crossings that lead to the less known mosques of Kashan, Natanz or Kerman.


The strict religious codes do not exempt foreigners, who must cover their hair and meat at the entrance to the country, and like the Persians, only discover themselves in their homes or accommodation and already in privacy.

It is also surprising to know that the separation of sex from the age of 7 is total, in schools or in the means of transport, as we are on our way to Mashhad, where what appeared to be a young couple are separated in compliance with the moral". This is established by the Koran.


Women also take care of minors. Boy or girl can still wear their colors, and it is possible that if a child is already the joy of a mother, in Iran it still represents something else, the illusion of a mother leaving Islamic norms even symbolically.

It is hard to live in a Muslim country for a woman, and in today's Iran it is no less. They are aware of their position, and sure that when asked "What do you prefer, boy or girl? They have a wise answer ...


Something has changed ... slightly

But 30 years is enough years, and something has changed. They may not be able to shed their clothes on a beach or a pool, and badly withstand the high temperatures that summer holds, but we are surprised to see the social presence of Iranian women. They serve businesses for the public, drive cars (We had more than one driver in our wanderings), They have family dinner and go to the sanctuaries en masse.

In the big cities, the new generations replace the dark colors of the most conservative garments with scarves of certain colors, jeans or even the most daring, skirts that attract attention.

The youths are revealed. The great parks of Tehran, Isfahan or Kerman, congregate dozens of couples who do not hide their passion before the eyes of some adversary. We are even stunned by the explanations of consensual sex and with permission before marriage, impossible at other times.


A few hundred kilometers away, a small town has not altered the way they live despite the pressure of the most conservative. Abyaneh, a villa anchored in the past between Qom and Natanz, maintains the features that have always distinguished him from everything around them.


Its population, fundamentally old, face the roles established by the Constitution of the Islamic Republic and which governs the lives of more than 60 million Iranians whose principles are based on the interpretation of their most sacred book.

Pink, yellow and bright blue intermingle with the acre of the houses of the town and the intense blue of the sky, giving the snapshots that leave the objective of our camera a visual spectacle worthy of framing by itself, but more is the love and warmth we feel in contact with its people.


A friendly, affectionate and hospitable people with the traveler

Far from there, a few hours from Kerman, Meymand welcomes us and delves us into the age of the trogdolites, of people living in caves dug in the rock and with the concept of youth also forgotten ... lost.


Leave Iran behind black veils, Aridai makes us a sign to enter his house. She is an older woman, about 70 or 80 years old, whose greatest value is not material. His life revolves around an old-fashioned weaver, four skeletal chickens and a house with barely a stove and some old carpets.


However, in an unintelligible language he invites us to tea and teaches us what little he has and the photo of his late husband.

The friendliness and hospitality of Aridai is no different from that found from the first day in Tehran in order to leave the city, in the Qom Shrine by an old man interested in knowing that there is beyond its borders, in Kashan Caravanserai by a young student grateful to have a foreign conversation, in Shiraz with the wink of some girls young or in Kerman with the Baluchi population.

To the question "What do we bring from Iran?" we would never have the slightest doubt ... the love, kindness and hospitality of its people, the one that has impacted us most of a traveling life, oppressed people, generally poor, and controlled by 10-15% of clergy, who spares no help, a smile or an accomplice look at visitors away from wanting anything In return.


People for whom having a conversation with you, sometimes impossible because of the language problem, knowing about your country, being able to imagine for a few moments away from there, is a treasure that many of us have lost within our values. The same feeling as before lived in Syria or that conversation with the old woman Pa-O in Burma, who in the toughest and most extreme condition of life wished he could travel as we did.


The Revolution impacted everyone's life. The very rich became richer, and the poor became poorer than ever and venerating martyrs of Islam or the Iraq-Iran War that an opportunist Saddam Hussein tried to take advantage of by that oil cancer, and that not only did not undermine the beginnings of the revolt, but he affirmed it at the expense of the people.


The merchants of the bazaars, however, are the lucky ones of the disappearance of multinational investment, and although they are "forced" to finance clergy, schools and hospitals through mosques, they have been enriched significantly.

He flat town feels partly abandoned, especially with the mandate of Ahmadinejad, who dedicated his time to threatening Israel, to deny the Holocaust and to the nuclear program, while unattainable rises of light, water and gas, insecurity, corruption and a slap of loneliness reached those who really form 80% of the country.


The more than 900,000 Afghan refugees and 1.5 million in an irregular situationThey have been looking for their place in Iran for years, especially in the Balochistan area. It is not easy, since this country deals almost entirely with its integration. Among the poor, they are the most misery, settled in suburbs or true refugee camps.


While the humblest coexist, that 10-15% of crazy clergymen dedicate themselves to paying huge sums of money to jijadistas to extend their influence worldwide, to invest in atomic weapons that we intuit in our journey between Kashan and Natanz and to "line" Ayatolah farther and farther from reality.


Under the gaze of the Ayatollah

It is a look that does not abandon us. Sometimes threatening, sometimes provocative. The Ayatollah are considered experts in Islamic sciences, morals, philosophy, and second highest position within the Shiite duodeciman clergy.

It doesn't matter in a mosque, in some construction sites, in a lost sign in the most suburbial neighborhood or in a memorial cemetery, there are always the faces of Khomeini and Khamenei.

Though There is a President of government, the entire political system is controlled by the Islamic clergy in Iran. The Assembly of Experts consists exclusively of theologians and they have the power to even resign political positions, including the President.


But the clergy reach beyond. Media including television, security services and internet is also managed by the religious power. So it is not surprising that the world is as if it did not exist, and although there are ways to skip it, foreign news or culture and knowledge is prohibited for its inhabitants.

With this scenario it is not uncommon for much of the history of a Persian is developed in mosques and shrines.


Thousands of mullah, whether they are jerife (descendants of Muhammad with his black turban) or not (those in white turban), they dedicate their hours to the interpretation of the Quran looking for their secrets, and have special importance in this territory.


Sacred sanctuaries such as Qom or Shiraz, or the impressive Mashhad temple in honor of the eighth imam whose grave survives here, Imam Reza, are a privilege for the visitor who discreetly manages to enter but with whom, far from hostilities, all are respectful and tolerant.

"Fundamentalists" say those who imagine a panda of "nuts" burning western flags in the most sacred shrines, armed to the teeth at each door of the same, when the reality is that while in any western place the security with guns, batons and other weapons, or even the permission of the same in the own house, are the order of the day, here it shows us characters "wielded with dusters" (!! yes, dusters to clean the furniture !!) touching the one who does not meet a minimum of tolerance (take a picture of the grave or hinder the passageways). !! Dusters !! Colored dusters Singular metaphor


Qom, Shiraz or Mashhad are true live story. The daily lives of families living on the carpets, with their lineage, their children, with their own faith. That same one that believes in the twelve imams as a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad above the Caliphate succession line of the Sunnis and that the event of Kerbala where the Umayyads kill Husein, flows into the current Ashura with thousands of penitents scourging and beating to remember the suffering. Although ... do not the most devout Christians on their most important date?

In Iran, foreign women travel alone and in peace, nobody bothers them or feels observed. The streets are clean and the Persian cares about his image. The Infrastructures are really impressive, as they were 30 years ago, with good means of transport, better highways and buildings. How would Iran be without lost 30 years? Although others might not have been enriched so much, Turkey? China? The big beneficiaries of a blockade that is drowning them ...


Communicating with the people of Iran has not been easy. I do not speak of language, nor of concepts, but of thoughts. That taxi driver wanting to meet, the old woman who wants to share her tea or the owner of a hammah lost in the streets of Qazvin. Everyone lives fearful of demonstrating abroad, but they conclude by saying that more than 60-70% of the population is against the current regime although they have certain hopes in the new President Hasan Rouhaní.

It is possible that after 21 days we have not perceived more than a very partial vision what happens there. But if we intuit that it will take many years for the woman to recover her rights, and society opens her mind to a path that does not have to be the West, but if far from religious oppression ... and possibly blood is needed for it.


We leave behind Ayesha, Aridai, Mahmud, Anahi, Mohamed or Ali. Broken prejudices that prevented me from seeing reality, I would like to know if "all the Adelsons", that confuse the Iranians with crazy third-world Arabs, will they ever be able to really glimpse that behind that black veil there is a wonderful town, a hospitable and friendly people with the traveler and a life full of colors ...

and that the really dark thing is the clothes of their women, the crazy clerics who govern them and the future that awaits them as, that nobody gets confused, so is ours and we don't want to see it. This is my story and here I wanted to tell it.

DO YOU WANT MORE ?: Don't miss the best stages of the trip in "12 essential snapshots, "the on-site newspaper in"the stories en route "or the essential guide that my travel companion and good friend Sele is preparing in"Practical travel guide to Iran I "