Sometimes a good hike does not always go as planned. We end up in some less scenic areas that are not what we were told or expected them to be, because of your husband’s friend or something like that 🙂 However we manage to enjoy what is around us and make use of what we have in order to survive a day in the scorching sun, desert like climates, and dusty old cabins. Unexpected disappointments always prepare us for the next disappointment. We learn from them and we learn not to take everyone’s word for it too. At least, that is what we learned on one trip to Mazandaran.
So to begin this story, my family and I were looking forward to staying at this beautiful mountain home near the Mazandaran jungle. We were told it was only two hours from our village. We were told by a friend of my husbands – we will just call him Ali for his safety – that it was a nice well equipped place. We asked him, what do we need for this trip? We did not need to bring anything, he told us. “Do not bring dishes”, he said. “No coffee”, he tells us. “Do not bring anything!” Ali said. According to him this place was stacked and it had all we needed. This place had it all! It sounded like a slice of heavenly cake in the middle of a beautiful forest! A little cabin in the plush green terrain of Mazandaran, seemed ideal. I was beginning to let my imagination go “into the wild”. I was picturing us relaxing in our own rooms, cooking up some eggs on a gas stove and heading out for trekking all day – as we often do – but this time we would be in an environment that was a little more geologically diverse which would make it all the more worth while. Well, it turned out to be nothing like that 😦 Not really. Ali, who is always real good with planning had never even been to this so called “luxurious” destination himself. (He is really like the dad from National Lampoon’s Vacation in his planning for trips, and it’s all somewhat funny.) It would be early morning that our road trip would began. We were all up by five and I was so excited that I had taken little sleep.
Most of Mazandaran is lush green and plush. It is mountainous and picturesque. If you have seen photos, they will take your breath away. It’s just beautiful. There are points and places from the Alborz where you can see the clouds. It’s almost like you are in heaven! So of course I could not wait to escape into beauty once more. Mazandaran, although in another province from where I live, is a short distance from our home. While on our drive we passed some beautiful land marks too! One beaut was this tower in Gorgan city, Golestan with a lovely view of the mountains in the back drop.
We continued our drive through green pastures and magical wooded areas. As we passed these beautiful potentially good camp sites, the drive went from one to now over two hours. My husband insisted we were almost there, until my husband’s cousin who realized while he was driving that this little village -our destination – was further than we had thought. It turned into hours and hours of driving and passing up places that were so gorgeous. I wanted to yell “stop the car, make a fire and pop the tent here!” but noooooo, I was patient. Besides we were traveling caravan like style with other cars following behind. Suddenly the green pastures and forest were gone. I was in Arizona, USA. There were beautiful large Mesas or plateaus (photos) in sight. The temperature changed from a cool moist to a hot dry, it was practically desert like.
The geology and climate changed altogether. I was waiting patiently to move beyond this colorless terrain and looking forward to that green piece of heaven that I was promised. We drove up some dull colored inclines and right spat on the incline, my husband say’s “honey we are here”. I was sweaty, half way asleep with a red mark on the left side of my face from where I rested my head, and all I saw was dirt and a few tumble weeds when I popped my eyes open. There was no place to trek and no place to climb in sight. Everyone who came along in the caravan was pooped and just wanted to get to the home and relax. The home was situated on a mountain top in a village named for it’s unpleasant hot spot “Sorkh Ghariveh”, which means unpleasantly hot. 🙂 At least, I think it does (scratching my head). Sorkh or red was the color of our skin eventually, so maybe that was the reason for the village name? One by one we piled up at the door with about 12 members in our gang, most of whom were strangers that Ali brought along. He opens the door, I was the first to walk in and get a whiff of the staleness. The place was indescribably neglected, smelly, and dusty. The water, the equipment, and facilities for cooking and cleaning were beyond useless. Cans with molded food sat on window seals from people who had crashed at the summer home before and did not clean it. The Persian rugs filled the air with plumes of dust as we gave them a little pat. Okay, thanks Ali for bringing me into this piece of Heaven? 🙂 Well we were stuck here for a day and it was time to make the best of it!
My husband and I always prepare for the worst, thankfully. It does not matter what people say, we go the extra mile to prepare for the worst. We loaded up with a tent and other necessities despite Ali’s 4-1-1. (Lets just say, we know him pretty well 🙂 We set up our tent and went on a search for firewood. Since my husband and cousin were the only men there who could pretty much survive the outdoors…they kindly helped everyone get through the day outside. While they built a fire for smoked chai, my son and I went for a trek in the mountainous terrain not far from the village. No fruit was to be found up there nor was there much to explore. The mountains contained little vegetation at our point, only pokey things that got into our clothes. We decided not to take our chances on uncharted territories and soon climbed our way down and back to the house.
The house did have potential, it was spacious and had a lovely way about it. It was designed in an old traditional Persian fashion with pretty stained glass windows. It was built with a fire place and sat on a large amount of land(I would not mind living in it with a few repairs and some crazy heavy duty cleaning.) One could really enjoy life up here under different circumstances, I thought. One of main house doors opened up to a large yard with apple and pear trees, tiny, crisp, green mountain apples and pears. We truly turned our negative into a positive. I got to know Ali’s friends as we sat on the cool grass eating sunflower seeds, drinking our chai. The strangers turned out to be really kind and interesting people. My family and I spent the rest of the day singing in our tent, cooking kebab and eating some of the most delicious apples mother nature had to offer.
On our drive back home, we made stops and short walks at some of the places we passed up on our way to the mountain home. One of the nicest spots on our road trip back home was a view from the jungle where you could clearly see the Caspian Sea and Ashurahdeh Island which is nestled between two provinces in Iran; Golestan and Mazandaran. When we got home the drive was much shorter and of course we were sun burnt. I unloaded a trunk full of apples. My son had picked four bags of lovely, green, organic mountain apples that stayed good in our fridge for about a month. All in all, it turned out to be a fruitful trip in some way.
*Tip: Never believe what Ali has to say unless he has been there and done that for a fact! Seriously though, prepare at times for your destination not to be as you expect it to be. Prepare to make sacrifices for others who may not be well equipped. Prepare to make the best out of any given situation and you will feel like you gained the best things from your camping or hiking adventure.
*My internet is extremely slow. I will try to upload more pics of the places I may or may have not mentioned in this post. Despite our badly prepared trip, Mazandaran, Iran is a beautiful place to visit. It is a definite, must see! I will also journal on another one of my better trips there later.