Friday, January 09, 2009

Iran +

Our on-again off-again trip to Iran is on again.  We had tickets to go a year ago and then realized that we'd be there during their two-week New Year celebration.  Not the best time for visiting.  At the same time our macho Texan in charge of going to war was saber rattling. Better not to be there if the Americans were going to bomb the place.  So we decided to reschedule for this spring, figuring a new president was a safer bet, at least in the near term.

Israel is always a wild card in the Iran equation.  We had no doubt they'd take military action when they felt the threat pushed them past their boiling point, which is low to begin with.  As it turns out they're now diverted by Gaza and that should slake their need for blood for a while.

As we discussed this trip over the holidays both Sandra and I realized that our reluctance to push the 'go' button had less to do with any possible war than with not being eager to go on another long trip so soon after our 3 1/2 weeks in Italy this past fall.  But also we saw the likelihood that if we didn't go at this point we might never do it.  So we concluded - Let's do it.

Our original plan was to include Syria, Jordan and Greece.  Then we began thinking about Uzbekistan.  Samarkand, the old Silk Road, sounded kind of exotic.  That would mean not going to the Middle East.  But in the end we went back to Syria and Jordan, but not Greece, which would have jammed us into a timetable that was too compressed.

So the decision was made.  And I went to work researching and contacting travel agents in Iran. Americans can get a visa for Iran, but are required to be in the country on a guided tour.  The tour doesn't have to be large - 2 people are fine, but the arrangements must be made by a local agent.

From the beginning, one travel agent, Let's Go Iran, most favorably impressed me.  They responded quickly, paid attention to our preferences and interest in a slightly off-beat customized itinerary, were competitive in price, and seemed to have the right approach to customer service.

So yesterday I agreed to use them and we're moving forward.  Our contact is someone named Parisa Evazi.  From the tone of the emails I received I assume Parisa is a woman.  Our last messages were particularly enjoyable.  She asked if we wanted to include a camel ride.  Cutting it would reduce the cost slightly.  I suggested we bag the camels and commented, "I find camels pretty uncomfortable, don't you?"

She said:  "Well, regarding camel riding idea.  To be honest I am afraid of touching animals, so never never, even in my dreams try to test riding them."

We leave March 31.


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