Kalate paradise and administrative troubles

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Posted by Giom | Posted in East, Iran, On the road | Posted on 12-11-2012

Kalate here we are! During the next three days from today all offices will be closed. So we decided we will let ourselves being carried away by the time and quietness of these three days of holydays.

Kalate is a ten houses village situated at an altitude of 2000 meters. It offers a reddish red view. The village is on the mountainside and surrounded by valleys in which flow crystalline water from some meter above. We just arrived but I already feel like I am in heaven. We are surrounded with fruit trees and houses made of wood, adobe and roc. Peace and nature. The silence of the mountain is not broken but by the sound of a few animals.
We arrived at night and had diner altogether in the small but friendly living room in Mohammed’s and his wife Zeyneb’s house. The day after we woke up at sunrise, the rays of sun showed us the complex autumn work on the threes around the house. A spectacular sight: the reddish mountains on a cloudless bright blue sky background. In the morning light the contrast was amazing.
At first we did not see the lighting effects of the gate of sun on the skyline. It was magical. I felt like I was in another world. In the afternoon, Mohammed and Omid played the thar (guitar hammer) and the udu (African instrument with the shape of a jug). The sound of the thar gentle and refined, accentuated by the percussion and mixed with the lighting effects enabled us to rest on the red and white carpet. The concert transported us on a path, back in time. All of a sudden we were in a fairytale. The following days we chose to enjoy the area. Walking, writing and resting were on schedule.
Then we went to Mashhad, the second biggest city of Iran. In this city is the mausoleum of Imam Reza, the second pilgrimage after Mecca for Muslims! In this place cameras are prohibited. This is huge place the size of a city with a lot of colours and space, where devotion and faith are running high. It reminded me of the Easter week in Spain. Emotion connects with faith. It is hard to explain the power of such a moment. The grave of the martyr Imam is venerated by all pilgrims. Together they recite prayer and read the Coran in order to touch the grave in an indefinable and startling atmosphere. It is hard to understand for us who did not grow up with this religion but it is certain that it is something vital and very important for the people who travel all the way to Mashhad.
Eventually we arrived at the Turkmenistan consulate! They gave us a visa at once, great!!!!! But instead of 5 days as we asked they gave us a visa for 3 days only. Not so great! We needed two more days! It is thanks to Mohammed that we finally got them. Our friend literally went out of his way for us. He woke up early, coming and going everywhere with us, calling his friends, showing us nice places… There are no words to tell him how much we are thankful for his help. He took us to the passport and immigration office but here it was another story.
As soon as we arrived, the said “we do not do visa extensions”. But we new it was possible so we insisted and pressured for almost an hour. After spending four hours, from a desk to another (It reminded me of the Asterix and Obelix movie with the A38 form) they eventually gave us some forms to fill, asked us to pay 10 dollars and to come back on the following day. (In order to have a chance to be the firsts, we had to be in the line at 4 o’clock in the morning although the office opens at 8).
When we arrived, very early in the morning, we met in the line with some Afghan refugees (the city is close to the border). Some of them live here since they were born but do not have Iranian nationality and will never get it. So every year, they have to stand in the line and wait all day long in a tiny office in order to extend their residency for a year. Sometime a family can get trouble. One member does not get the extension and has to leave his job and live separated from the rest of his family in a much more troubled place.
After 6 hours, an employee told us to come back on the following day. No way. Our visa expires today so we can’t and we cannot walk in the streets without our passport. When we explained the situation to our new friend Mohammad he translated everything and put a lot of positive energy in the matter. After three more hours we got our stamp. We have been lucky and we have no more worry for now.
During our last days in Iran (because we cannot go to Turkmenistan as early as we wanted) we enjoyed the city, the Iranian food and we prepared the next steps of our trip. We also visited the grave of a poet who lived 900 years ago! The famous Ferdowsi. He is still quite popular nowadays in Iran. He is the father of the Iranian poetry! His grave is like Hafez, splendid and respected by everyone! Here culture and knowledge are revered and it is worth seeing.
Before we left we had some time to visit a family who little by little adopted children who are now 50. They work with them according to the necessity and skills of each. They also perform music therapy. Together they form an orchestra who played in the most prestigious theatres and concert halls of Iran during more than 70 performances.
Now we are getting ready to live Iran but no without sadness. A huge country with an ancient culture! We hope its political situation will improve because there are so many pretty things to see! We wish the best to this country because the culture and the people are admirable.

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