[ May 1999 ] After enjoying Anzali Lagoon in the northern Iran, the first place we went to on the day was a village called Masuleh.
This village was built into the mountain and ocher-coloured houses were stuck on top of each other, which looked like villages in southern Europe but in different colour.
It was picturesque.
Unfortunately when we arrived here the rain was sprinkling, though.
The houses were all interconnected and for example, one house’s roof was a part of the pedestrian street.
The streets were narrow and apparently no motor vehicles were allowed to enter the village.
Due to the recent heavy rain, some part were damaged by the flood, but many parts were as before and I could take many photos though it was rather dark.
Somehow the relaxed atmosphere reminded me of Karimabad in Pakistan.
It seemed a special place for Iranian people, too, so it was a tourist spot and there were some souvenir shops in this small village.
There were no particular buildings or ruins that needed any explanations, so while we were walking around, Khalil and Ali, the guide and the driver were sitting at a cafe and smoked a hookah.
Since I arrived in Iran, I have been trying hookahs sometimes.
It was nice with the sweet aroma.
Masuleh’ s altitude is about 1000 metres, and the weather was not so good, so it was quite cool up there, but when we came down to the flat ground, it was subtropical.
It was so hot and again I was annoyed by my scarf and coat which were not to be removed.
I had thought the scenery of paddy fields were like in Japan the day before, but this time it reminded me of the scenery in Thailand.
There were quite many houses with thatched roofs and although the floors were not raised, I could see that large part of their lives were managed on the balcony upstairs.
Our journey had been smooth up here, but then our guide and driver said “The condition of the road is not good, so we would like to detour”.
It would take longer, but it did not seem so unreasonable, so we left it to them.
Then they stopped at a border town called Astara and started shopping in the big market there.
Especially Ali, the driver was visibly excited.
So that was the purpose of the detour…
It was a market which seemed to have collected the world most tasteless goods, though.
I was not interested in this market at all and wandering around aimlessly, when a man called out to me in Japanese “Gokurosama (thank you for your hard work)”.
I was astonished to hear that here in Astara.
Apparently this Iranian man had lived in Japan for 7 years and his wife was a third-generation Bolivian of Japanese descent.
We chatted a little in Japanese.
He had stayed in an hot spring area in Nagano Prefecture in Japan and said “Hot spring resort is the best, isn’t it” in Japanese.
This was certainly an unexpected encounter and I enjoyed this conversation which happened at the far corners of the earth in Iran, which became one of the interesting memories in this holiday.
Astara is also on Caspian Sea and if you go a little further to the north, it will be Azerbaijan where I would love to visit one time.
I could see the sea from the end of the market, so I went towards it as much as possible and took a photo.
So this is the Caspian Sea!
Although it was not particularly beautiful or I did not see any sturgeons or the colour of the sea was not like crude oil, I was strangely moved.