The Royal Mosque at Imam Square, Esfahan.

The ancient architecture here can be mind-boggling–the colors, the detail, the symmetry, it’s like landing on a different planet. In Spokane a 75 year-old building is a marvel. Here they are 300-400 year-old structures sitting abondoned in a wheat field.

Today we spent most of the day in Imam Square in Esfahan. The bazaar and mosques were incredible, but I some point I just broke down. All I’ve wanted to do since coming here is get on a bicycle. I have been oggling the 30 year-old British Phoenix bikes that everybody has. Finally I just saw a guy in the square with one and offered him a few bucks if I could just ride it around the square. In good Persian fashion he refused to take money and insisted I ride. No need to say that twice. I was off.

It might have been the best 15 minutes of the trip. The sun was setting and the sky was a deep cobalt blue in the mountains behind the city. The colored lights of the bazaar were growing by the minute. Families were strolling and having picnics all around the square. I road the sturdy machine on smooth rock pathways. Nothing could kill this bike. I pulled up in front of the Blue Mosque at the end of the square and gazed back across this amazing scene. Right then the Arabic calls to evening prayer came floating out of the mosque. It ried to stretch 15 minutes an eternity. Even dodging taxis across the square boulevard was a pleasure.

When I got back I find out that Tom had taken my lead and done me one better. He got a ride on the back of a motorcyle–through the bazaar, on the sidewalk, and down the steps. You can’t do that back home.

Jackson at the Royal Mosque, Imam Square.