Time to myself on tours is always scarce, but I have practically none in Iran. Because of the strained political relations between the U.S. and Iran and the fact that we don't have an embassy in Tehran anymore, American tourists are subject to tougher rules than other nationalities. So what I'm saying is that I'm with the group ALL THE TIME, for every meal and all throughout the day until we part ways after dinner. That hasn't left me much time to update.
I'm now back in Tehran after nearly three weeks of traveling all over Iran with the group. The tour went well, but it hasn't been without its problems - no tour ever is. I can't really go into details, but I will say this; sometimes I wish I could run my tours like a traveling version of "Survivor," where the group votes one person off the tour each day. Whoever's left at the end gets deluxe rooms and a privately guided tour for the remainder of the itinerary, plus some fabulous prizes. But enough about that.
Tonight we had our farewell dinner and said some kind parting words. Now we all go our separate ways. Most of my travelers will go back to the States, but I will be in Azerbaijan tomorrow with two of my group members from the Iran tour and three other Americans I haven't met yet. I must say I'm really looking forward to having my first glass of wine after such a long dry spell. Iran is under strict Muslim clerical rule and we can't drink here! Azerbaijan is also a Muslim country, but thanks to decades of godless Soviet rule, the Azeris are known to imbibe.
Another thing I'm looking forward to is being able to dress more freely. As a woman in Iran, I am required by law to follow the Islamic dress code. I must wear a headscarf and a loose fitting outer garment to hide my shape. Only my hands and face may be exposed when I am in public, so you can imagine what a weird tan I'm developing. The whole ensemble is called "hijab" and though I don't mind it so much while I'm working, taking off my scarf after I close the hotel room door behind me is such a relief. I have a hilarious picture of me in full hijab wading in a river a few days ago. I'll share it when I get back home.
Now I'm off to get some sleep before starting Tour 2 tomorrow. I'll be so ready to get back home to my family by the time it's over.