Let me tell you about Qeshm, Iran. A trip that started out as a small, low expectations sightseeing weekend, just a chance to get out of the city, that turned into a super fun and experience-filled getaway.
After rushing out of the office, changing clothes, grabbing my half-packed backpack I hailed a taxi to airport. Following little negotiations at the check-in table, we were ready to board and off we were. Just as soon as we gained the cruising altitude, we were already descending. And after a short 40 minute flight, we stepped on the tarmac of Qeshm airport.
Welcome to Iran! Girls - welcome hijabs! And so we begin negotiating our way through the immigration department. And after a not very short finger-printing procedure we made our way to the local house that was to be our home for the next few nights.
We were welcomed by a local dinner of boduni with shark meat and local Fanta. Followed by a surprise invitation to a local wedding. Men drumming and singing, with our boys joining in. Girls were allowed to watch from the side, before being pulled away by the local ladies to chat and take countless pictures with little girls who could not get enough of our white skin.
Then onwards to the bride's family house, where men continued their loud celebrations after delivering the groom to the honeymoon suite - a room coloured with bring tassels to equal the most psychedelic christmas tree. Once men had cleared the area, the groom was allowed to meet his bride and walk her through the female crowd to the suite where they would stay for minimum three days in isolation to kick-start their marriage.
Following a very short night, we woke the next day to explore the Chankouh gorge, Salt cave and Statue valley. The beauty of the area surprised pretty much all of us.
We also made a quick stop at the world's biggest handicraft creation site - a shipyard. We saw around and climbed on top of nearly finished and barely started boats. They were mighty impressive.
In the meanwhile I also discovered why the little girls yesterday found my name so very amusing ... namely Gerdu means walnut in Persian :)
Armed with my new Persian vocabulary, I went around with "Salom! Aks begeram? Merci!" (Hello! Can I take a picture? Thank you!) to click a few portraits of locals.
We finished the first day with a kebab dinner and a trip to the mangroves forest to witness traditional night-fishing.
We did not have much luck - during the short time on the water we only caught one tiny little thing ... But to our luck that tiny little thing had surprisingly become many big fish by next morning ;) which were baked on coals for our breakfast. Wrap the fish in bread with dates and enjoy!
Before and after breakfast we also got to experience local luxury "pedicure" while walking through the muddy mangrove fields :)
By the end of the trip it was clear that a small non-assuming island in the Hormuz strait can easily turn into an amazing adventure.
Our little group of people was in high spirits throughout the trip, finding out about Iranian customs and language; while taking selfies with camels; doing cartwheels in red mud; eating bread made with red mud; learning to sleep upright in a minivan; playing jenga; sleeping on the floor; chasing local cats for pictures; wearing hijabs; running up hills and organising an impromptu dancing party in the desert.
See the full album of the trip here.