Friday, May 23, 2008

Is There An Iran In My Future?

My lifelong karma has been to travel. I’ve spent time in 62 countries, not including those I transited. Some I’ve visited many times – like about 20 trips to Italy. Some have been remote and exotic – like Bhutan, Borneo, Laos, Myanmar, Turkey, and Egypt.

I enjoy the challenge and excitement of being in new and challenging places. I don’t use travel agents. I don’t go on group tours. In consultation with the lovely Ms. Marsh I organize the itinerary, make the reservations, plan it all out, and then Sandra and I do our own thing in our own way.

Since I stopped working ten years ago we’ve designed Five Year Plans for travel. That’s given us a chance to be clear about our priorities and make them happen. Our current Five Year Plan includes another trip to Italy, which we’ll do in September, a return trip to Japan that will include sumo and visits to several new places, some yet-to-be-determined far out location (probably in Asia) that is way off the beaten tourist track, and at Sandra’s urging, Iran, Syria and Jordan.

Why, we have been asked on many occasions, would we want to go to Iran? Usually the question is followed immediately by some opinions, like “You’re out of your mind,” “That’s a dumb thing to do,” “You’ve got to be kidding,” and other empowering and supportive statements.

For Sandra it’s a no-brainer. Iran is home to an ancient civilization, and she loves face-to-face interactions with what I call ‘old stones’ from thousands of years ago. It is a Muslim country with exquisite mosques, and Sandra has never met a mosque she didn’t like. And it is a place not often visited by foreigners these days, especially Americans, which is a feature both of us like.

I spent a few days in Tehran before the Revolution, so I can’t say I’ve really seen much of the country. I’ve never been in Syria or Jordan. We’ve discussed making this trip for several years. I haven’t been enthusiastic, not because I thought it was too dangerous, but mostly because my interest level in that part of the world isn’t too high.

Even so, we decided to get it on our schedule and made plane reservations for this past March. Then, two things intervened. First, Bush and his cronies upped the ‘maybe we should bomb them’ ante with more inflammatory rhetoric. Also, we realized our dates coincided with the Iranian New Year, not the best time to be there because local people would be focused on family, celebrating and travel, so a lot would be closed.

We’ve reset it for next spring. If Obama is president I don’t think there’s much chance of a war with Iran (certainly not during his first six months.) If McCain is elected we’ll see how it looks closer to our departure date. In terms of military action against Iran, Israel is the wild card. Their track record for launching attacks on sites they consider threatening is consistent, irrespective what an American president might think. But there’s no point in trying to predict what they might or might not do.

In terms of the trip itself, my interest level is higher than it was a year or two ago, so at this point I’m not resisting. Maybe Sandra’s persistence has worn me down. It’ll be a little tricky logistically, since we’ll have to fly from Iran to Syria and then drive to Jordan. We’ll end up in Greece for a few days and fly home from there.

To be continued . . .


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many westerners have been going to Iran and they all report encountering very warm, hospitable and friendly people there -- totally contrary to what they expected. Rick Steves is now in Iran and writing a blog too

6:31 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home