Eating the fruits of the Garden of EdenJuly 7, 2017 in Iran ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C
This morning we went out to Kandovan, marketed as Iran's Cappadocia. Our hostel organised a lovely driver who made random stops to show us apricots drying in the sun, a thousand year old tree that onced housed a man, a ghost village next door to Kandovan that had the hill fall in on it 200 years ago and to meet his friend who offered tea, samples of his wares and much appreciation that we were from Australia.
But I really should start from the beginning...
Being a Friday, the morning was very quiet with everyone at mosque. We started the day getting a small glimpse of our street for the next couple of days. It's not far from the Bazaar which we'll explore tomorrow as well as the Blue Mosque and museums.
Our driver arrived pretty quickly and despite claiming poor English, immediately proved himself wrong! He told us little tit bits along the way and made stops for photos he thought we'd be interested in. The first was a quick u-turn on the highway when he noticed some men putting apricots out to dry. It was a spectacular sight, this orange gold fruit glowing along the sides of a quiet alley. Tom was given a handful of the fresh fruit which we munched on in the car afterwards... they go down as the best apricots either of us has ever tasted. Subtly sweet and almost fragrant but not pungent. I couldn't resist taking a shot of the rapturous look on Tom's face as he bit into one. Our driver pointed out the orchards along the road which in true European style (well in my experience) were without fences.
Our next stop, involved our driver stopping in the middle of the road (Persian roads and driving deserve their very own blog post!) at the foot of a tree which he proceeded to inform us was a thousand years old. There was a statue at the base of a man who lived in the hollow trunk for 50 years and when he died, the villagers sealed it shut. He then gave us a handful of green plums that were tart and delicious.
The next stop we could easily have missed if he hadn't stopped for us. Just before Kandovan is a smaller village built into the rock in the same way. But 200 years ago, the hill collapsed on it so it is now abandoned but we were able to go exploring the remaining open caves which helped make sense of what we later saw in Kandovan. The cave homes still had all the benches, nooks and shelves carved out so you could easily see how they'd have been lived in once upon a time. They were very low, even I had to dip my head to enter and walk around.
When I emerged from the last cave home I explored, I was going to catch up to Tom who had climbed up to a more in tact part but I got distracted by a herd a goats that were being moved through by their shepherds who were putting some in the caves, I assume to shelter from the heat. By the time I went to head up the hill, our driver was saying it was time to move on so I'll let Tom's photos and stories fill you in on that!
Which really brings us to Kandovan - the troglodyte village of manmade cliff dwellings which are still lived in. The village is hard to describe, covering a rocky hillside, crawling with tourists and with no straight lines, it is like no other place I've been. I'll let the photos below do it for me. It's a small village, apparently at the last census there were less than 700 people belonging to around 150 families. The place is now set up for tourism with many of them offering a 'free entry to cliff home', but when you walk in, you find they've turned their main living area into a shop selling tat. Though no real pressure or active spruiking which seems to be an Iranian thing.
The highlight for me was when our driver introduced us to his friend who ran a shop down near the riverbed - he sat us down, talked to Tom wanting to know where we were from, how we were liking Iran, etc. He brought out tea and started giving us samples, the area is famous for honey and he calmly assured us that a teaspoon a day at breakfast would mean we were never sick! The sour preserved red damson plums were tangy and lovely but the yellow were too sour for me. The almonds and walnuts were juicy, straight out of their shells. Tom bought some pistachios in the end - twice the size of any I've seen before.
In the dry riverbed at the base of the hill, people had set up picnics - Iranians seem to take picnicking seriously, there are burners and shades and rugs. And by the time we left, it was clear many more were going to set up as there was a steady stream of cars heading out there.
For the afternoon, I took a siesta while Tom headed off to hunt lunch and find a haircut/shave. I'll let him tell you about mourning his beard and put the photos from the afternoon up in a new post.Read more