Tuesday May 13
In a book you can’t tell how big it is. It’s like 20 ancient archeological sites in one. Tombs, palaces, collumns, and some really cool rock animals. Persopolis is the third ancient site we’ve seen today. We also saw the tomb of Cyrus the Great, and hillside tombs of Darius and Xerxes. But todays best experience was people, not places.
We are invited to the home of a cousin of Shahrokhs friend. (If we had the time we could be invited to a meal morning, noon, and night.) They live in a poor agricultural neighborhood on the far outskirts of Shiraz. At first getting there feels like a wild goose chase similar to Abeynah. Once we reached the neighborhood the streets are so bad the van bottoms out three times. And seeing big hunks of raw meet hanging on a hook outside someone’s garage feels a bit weird no matter how normal it is here.
But when we get to the house we are met by a graciosu family of eight. Once inside the concrete walls of the family sanctuary all the concerns of the evening melt away. Jackson helps the two young girls in the family figure out the glow sticks we’ve given them. We all marvel at the classic Persian decor of the home–including the framed flowers wrapped in plastic. The meal, eaten on the Persian carpet in their living room, is terrific–the best chicken I’ve had yet. The conversation is rough, since they know little English, but we manage with our translators as the boys once again use soccer to connect with their eldest sons. They insist we stay the night. We politely decline–15 people in a three bedroom house seems a bit much–but the offer is sincere and Shahrohs says he remember such family slumber parties being fun when he was a kid. At the end we exchange gifts, including giving the daughter some money for her upcoming wedding. She refuses to take it until I put it in her hand and gently close it with mine. No packaged tour would have allowed us to meet people like this.