Today has not been all that exciting. We are recharging our batteries and our bodies, having spent a good, intense two days here already. We checked out of our hotel in Tehran this morning, which has given us a great landing spot for the journey thus far.
Iran is a large enough country (70 million people live here) to warrant a comfortable in-country network of airports. Our flight on IranAir took us from Tehran to Ahwaz. Two cultural curiosities for me were the covered women in the safety booklet and the in-flight meal (it's Ramadan).
The latter is most curious, since the Qur'an makes explicit exception for fasting for people who are traveling. However, during our time in Sunni communities, we would never have seen such an exception made. However, this is a Shiite country, and the airline is operated by the Islamic Republic.
The city of Ahwaz is in Khuzestan province. Much of Iran's oil is here. We're probably a good 100 miles from Iraq's southeastern border. A quarter of the population are Arabs (though not Iraqis) who have been here for centuries.
After a good nap, we took a walk along the river. Despite the unfortunate stench of sewage, it was beautiful in the sunset and provided a good place for meetings - families breaking the Ramadan fast, unmarried couples finding a furtive place, young men gathering to enjoy a little hookah.
Tomorrow the itinerary picks up a bit. It should be a good shift!
P.S. As I was sitting here working on this, a couple of young men at the next computer called to me. "We found your picture," they said. I leaned in, somewhat surprised. It was Van Gogh's self-portrait. We shared a good laugh.