After the desert I returned to civilization and visited Shiraz, the third of the three cities, that apparently every first time visitor to Iran has to see. There I did not only met Amir, one of the two brothers I met in Kappadokia, he came here from his hometown further to the south, but also some of his friends where we stayed for a few days.
There was Farzan and his family, he introduced me to the shirazian way of spending time: sleeping and eating. An occupation I adopted quite readily (and the meals prepared by his family, where I was invited to join, were delicious). Apart from that, he also worked out a strict visiting schedule to show me many of the sights in Shiraz. The Afif Abad and Jahan Nama gardens, the palace of the last iranian Shah (including his vast collection of arms) and the tomb of the famous persian poet Hafez were some of the places we visited.
Then there were also Mohammed, Zohre and their family. Amir and I were staying with Mohammed at their almost but not quite finished house, where he guarded the construction site and took care of the electrical installation. With them we spent some more time in Shiraz aswell as in the countryside surrounding Shiraz.
With Amir I went to the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis, another example of monumental architecture from megalomaniac kings who considered themselves to be more than mere mortals. Despite the age of more than two millennia, the historic significance is still impressive and awe-inspiring.
After these days of enjoying iranian hospitality to the fullest and being blown away by the generosity and care for my well-being, I left Shiraz to go to the southernmost location of the whole voyage. Amir and Sina had invited me to their hometown Bushehr down by the Persian Gulf. I left the Zagros Mountains and the central iranian plateau behind me and descended into the depths of the Persian Gulf, and a hellish abyss it was. While the high altitudes of more than 1000 m in most parts of the country and the arid air helped to make the temperatures tolerable, it became utterly unbearable close to the sea. The hot and humid air felt more like a wet cloth over my face trying to suffocate me while cooking me alive (yes, I’ll stop whining about the temperatures soon, but not in this episode and not before a proper (and absurdly hot) climax). Even Sina and Amir (and most of the rest of the population), who are used to these conditions, spent most of the day inside air-conditioned houses. Which left the late evenings and nights for activities like meeting some of Amir and Sina’s friends, swimming in the Persian Gulf or even playing a round of football.