Iran is about as different from Qatar as you can imagine.

And it keeps reminding me of one of the ayats in the Quran that says that among His signs is the livelihood you seek. I can’t remember the exact wording, but it basically says in the Quran that there is a blessing in going out and earning your daily bread instead of having it handed to you.

Qataris are in the position of having it handed to them–and it shows. Kind of like those useless English lords who slouch about in their manors with nothing to show for it.

One of the things that surprised me is how empty the plane was coming to Tehran. I doubt there were more than twenty-five people and yet it was a big plane.

I wonder if there was a lot of cargo in the hold that made up for it, or  perhaps the plane went back to Doha full. Not sure.

We got in at about 10 pm. Happened to meet one of the storytellers at the festival in the airport at Doha. She’s a lovely lady from Australia named Annie Stewart. We’ve been best buds ever since.

Imam Khomeini airport is very small for being the capital of Iran’s airport! Just to let you know how small it is, there were only three baggage carousels. And once the last bag emerged through the flappy things, they shut the carousel off because that was it.

At least my bag arrived though, alhamdu lillah!

Then it was about an hour drive to our hotel. An hour in the dark. I’m glad I didn’t sit in the front. We had a young driver, very sweet guy, but it was scary when he was taking off his jacket while we were driving along on the highway.

Iranian society is a rough and tumble, scratch out a living sort of place, where the traffic is bumper to bumper, where you squeeze past other vehicles and the white painted dashed lines on the road that indicate the lanes seem to be more ‘suggestions’ than actual lanes, because drivers violate them constantly, often driving between lanes to inch ahead and gain an advantage.

But I must admit, the Iranian women are very pretty! I havent’ seen a homely one yet. High cheekbones, nice complexions! Very very pretty.

The men look in between Russian and white, and they look like they carry a heavy burden.

It went up to about twelve degrees today. So warm that I took my jacket off while we went to visit Golestan palace.

Fascinating place! Apparently it was th palace of the shahs and kings of old. Doesn’t look like much from the outside, although the mosaics that decorate the walls are splendid, but step inside and you see opulance that you really havent’ seen in a while!

Parts of it are over five hundred years old.

There’s panels of intricately carved marble, halls of glittering mirrors contrasted with pastel blue panels with white filigree scrollwork in the French provincial style!

And stained glass windows that rival that of Notre Dame.

The hotel I’m staying at and the rest of the country is a bit on the shabby side.

But then I don’t mind shabby, as long as it’s clean.

One of the things I was most curious about was how the Iranians were managing in light of some of the severest sanctions ever.

I don’t think it’s easy for them. Apparently food prices have doubled within the last little while, but these are a self-sufficient people.

They grow their own food, they build their own stuff. They manage with less.

It seems the less they have the harder they work.

And in that case the aesthetics are bound to suffer.

They’ve treated us like kings and queens!

I met the most interesting people! Allembe (I hope I’m spelling that right) is from Kenya. Such a fascinating and incredibly beautiful woman!With skin the colour of ebony and a little diamond stud in her right nostril.

Alexander is from Russia and was walking around with just a vest on. Obviously enjoying the balmy weather. From what I understood of his English the snow was piled high from where he was from.

And Suchi (I’m not sure that’s how you spell her name) is a Japanese lady who lives in Norway, and Anna is from Portugal. Then there’s Roger from Singapore, and I’m sure I’m leaving some out, but my brain’s too tired to name everyone.

Just a lovely lovely group of people.

We went for lunch around 2:30, we were all hungry, and the food was fantastic! Chicken and lamb and beef and fish kebabs, and tangy yogurt and a yummy soup that you squeezed lemon into, and fluffy rice with saffron on it!

Mmm, mmm, mmm!

We leave the hotel around 5 am tomorrow to go to Tabriz insha Allah.

And it’s supposed to be chilly there.

Tired but happy.

Over and out.