It’s been a while since my last story. But today it’s finally time to start writing again! For the first time in our short history, Amir and I are going on a mini-trip together. It will be our first solo-together adventure and I’m super exited to go! It took us days to choose a destination, but this morning finally the plans are set on Harandeh. An idyllic green oases hidden in the central part of the Alborz mountain range. As we lacked sleep last night we wake up way too late and start driving after midday. Luckily for us this surprisingly unknown gem is only 134 km from Tehran, which is about a two hour drive. With an overloaded car full of clothes and food we start our adventure. As if we don’t have enough yet, we make a stop at the fresh-market to buy more veggies. We’ll definitely won’t be hungry tonight!
The drive to Harande went smooth; no traffic so we reach shortly. The small village itself doesn’t have much to offer, but the beautiful valley 40 minutes walking from there does. We are lucky as it hasn’t rained so the dirt road leading up to there is dry. Slowly we drive as far as we can go and then unload all our luggage and take a deep breath in nature. The feeling of relaxation when you go from city to nature is indescribable; it covers you like a warm blanket and at the same time provides you with an energy you think is long forgotten. The sounds of small bugs and birds singing, a breeze of wind touching your skin, rocks ready to be climbed and lots of small flies and mosquitoes whizzing around your ears, ready to eat you alive. Oh yeah, that is spring too!
To avoid the stinging bugs we quickly rearrange our luggage and start walking. A narrow dirt-path leads us along apple gardens where trees are blooming with small, white flowers. And fields full of dandelions, who, with their soft pellets of white, feathery seedlings give the scene an extra dreamy touch. It’s only a short walk, but due to our heavy gear we stop three times to rest our hands and enjoy the scenery.
While we move forward, we slowly move towards a more silent place, away from society, surrounded by nature. The walk continues until we reach a stretch of land with a small house from which tea is sold. This turns out to be our hideout for the night. The place looks simple, but cozy and has a very earthy vibe. The grassy, dry land counts three sizable wooden frames which have mosquito nets serving as walls. They offer shelter from rain and bugs and serve rather as a ‘roof over head’ than a comfortable home. The concrete foundation is rock-hard and is promising a bitter night.
We meet Akbar, the friendly owner who welcomes us with a fresh herbal tea and the advice to wait for the people in the last shelter to move out, as it’s the only one with plastic instead of mosquito nets. It will be cold tonight and the plastic will provide us with just that little bit of extra shelter. Great piece of advice. While I take a seat at the outside table I take a closer look at the setting. A small two-floor stone house looks like it is newly build, but doesn’t really look stable with its half open walls and crooked brickwork. The land has many small and larger trees and a lovely fireplace used for cooking and long evenings around the fire.
My stomach feels empty and my body has difficulties adapting to the smell of spring and the small flies around us. I take a moment to rest in one of the shelters and stretch my body on the colorful, clean carpet. It reminds me that you can find carpets everywhere in Iran. Even in the unexpected places! I cannot find the peace of mind to sleep. Now that I am in the nature I like to enjoy it to the fullest. Instead, we eat a nutritious lunch and get ready for walk before sunset. We are lucky as the clouds make space for rays of sun right at the moment we leave the property. Together with the beautiful scenery it instantly fills my body with energy. With a huge smile on my face I start exploring. Finally outside again!
We follow the narrow dirt path further up along the Namrood River. It has a clear blue color from this span. And acts as a source of life for the red and green colored trees around it. At the bank of the river the water the water looks clear and it’s flowing fast. For a moment I dream about jumping in it, but the outside temperature is just to cool for that. Dry reed cracks under my sneakers as I slowly walk back to the dusty foot pad. The colors change from light brown to green. It is already mid-spring, but not everything is fully in bloom yet. Sheep walk across the river, their bells ring and their bleating loud. For a moment I wish I was the herder. An existence in nature. Walking, trekking, breathing fresh air day in and out. If only the sheep weren’t so noisy, then I could enjoy the sounds of silence and nature every day. We walk further up, and follow the trail into the mountains. The sun is setting and her soft light touches the mountains across the stream. They look vibrant and soft at the same time with their flaming red and beige colors. Beauty in its purest form; a warm light, a calm energy, the soft sounds of nature, a blue sky with single clouds and the solitude of this area.
As the daylight slowly ends we step up our game to reach the nearby village before darkness. We climb over rocks and pass colorful flowers and vegetation I’ve never seen before. The village is not far from where we are, but by the time we reach the first house the darkness sets in. My first impression of the place is that it’s rather a collection of houses than a village. Stone homes on private property. I see two paths only and not more than two houses. Curious as I am I’m eager to learn more about this place. But the darkness and the barking dogs keeps us from exploring further. I make a promise to myself to come back another time.
Slowly we make our way back to our shelter. The silhouettes of the mountains contrast with the deep blue sky. It looks like a painting in black and night blue. Like a place frozen in time.
At the shelter it’s quiet. The small teashop has closed. Our backpacks have been moved to the house with the plastic walls and except for the one in our house, all carpets have been stored away to protect them from moist and molds. We take out our lights, bring some food items and make a big fire. Amir prepares the chicken while I heath up around the fire and stare at its dancing flames. The fast movement of the fire fascinates me. A little later, when the clouds in the sky clear, I feel blessed to see the first stars shining in the sky. Being outside, in the nature today made me realize how soon I forgot about the blessings in life. And how relatively easy it is for me to find these blessings by just going out into the nature; how wonderful it is to see the sun reflect its light on the mountains during sunset, to hear the soft sounds of birds and of wind blowing through the grass, how refreshing it is to breathe fresh air and to see the magic sight of silhouettes and stars in the night sky. To be able to walk the whole day without feeling hungry or tired, simply because you are distracted by all the beauty and an urge to explore. For a moment I’m back in my world trip. A state of freedom and endless possibilities. Far away from the pollution and limits of the city. And that in only a two hour drive from home. We don’t always have to go far to find the most valuable experiences.
Together we eat a delicious chicken kebab around the fire, watch the stars one last time and slowly get ready for a dark night on a cold floor. Traveling for me often doesn’t include indulging myself in luxurious items. The ability to love, to work and appreciate that what you have is true luxury on itself. Tonight; the benefit of a plastic sheet over a mosquito net, the treat of layered warm clothes and a good sleeping bag. The ability to sleep outside, with the cool air touching my face and the sound of wind whirling through the trees. Life is not all about what you physically have, but about what you mentally gain 🙂
Read about the unexpectedly muddy hike to the Burnik cave in part two of this story 😉
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