Egypt 2 – Luxor

Above is another of those “happy accidents” where we made a mistake while making a photograph of the “Sound & Light” show (see below) at the Karnak Temple.  Never just delete an image because “you goofed.”  Some of our more memorable images were the result of such goofs… 

Our second full day in Egypt had us driving from Aswan to Luxor. We first went to Kom Ombo to see another temple that made us wonder if this was real or not (it was real!). The carvings on the wall are so clear that anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of ancient Egyptian could easily read them. They write from left-to-right or right-to-left, or even vertically, and sometimes all three in a single narrative. The snake and crocodile (right-column) points the direction of the beginning of the text. Sounds facetious, but our guide, Ismael, actually has a degree in Egyptology, and could read them easily! 

That night we went to the “Sound and Light” show at the Karnak Temple.  It was a fascinating walk through the temples illuminated at night. We would hear a booming voice telling us what we were looking at, as the lights illuminated various areas. Then we would walk on to the next lit area.

We next explored the Valley of the Kings.  This was a huge valley with more than 62 tombs, but only three of which we could enter, as shown above. You do not appreciate the findings of Howard Carter until you visit the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The story is that Carter had spent 5 years unsuccessfully excavating. Two days before he was about to give up, he uncovered King Tut’s Tomb in this valley, which was one of the greatest finds in the history of archeology.

As we continued our drive, our guide Maru (top-center) asked if we wanted to stop and see where intricate tile carvings were made. We jumped at the chance, and ended up at the pottery shop shown above. 

We also stopped at the temple of Amenophis III, then proceed to the Valley of the Queens, and the Temple of Hatshepsut.  Much of this site was destroyed by an angry nephew, who sought to destroy any vestige of his aunt’s identity.

We ended the Luxor portion of our tour by seeing the Luxor Illuminated Show, just before we caught the overnight train to Cairo. Because of the dry heat of the desert, most of these “ruins” have been amazingly well preserved.

Egypt 1 – Aswan

Getting from Israel to Egypt is surprisingly arduous. Because they are neighbors, we naively expected to be able to drive from one to the other. Nope. Had to fly from Tel Aviv to Athens, and then on to Cairo.  Politics once again gets in the way of common sense and creates unnecessary complications for the citizens…

After 10 hours in transit from Tel Aviv to Cairo, we only had 3 hours in a hotel bed before going to the airport for another flight, this one to Aswan.  Because we landed in Aswan so early, the hotel was not ready and we headed off to a full day of touring.

Once in Aswan, we drove to the Aswan High Dam for a quick look at the second largest dam in the world (it was the largest until China built the Three Gorges Dam in 2012).  Then on the road again, this time to catch a boat to the Philae temple.  This is one of the hundreds of temples that was moved in 1964 to save them from being flooded and lost forever under the new lake being formed by the Aswan dam.

This was our first exposure to the Egyptian temples, and it was simply mind-blowing. It was hard to shake the feeling that we were in Disneyland rather than really in the midst of human history dating back as far as 4600 years. The bas relief was so vivid and clear that it looked like a reproduction rather than “the real thing.”

We next went to the Abu Simbel temples, with their massive stone temples carved into the mountainside. This is the largest complex that was moved stone-by-stone from the valley floor to avoid loss from the Aswan dam flooding. The Arab man (upper-right) helps to give some idea of just how massive these statues are.

More statues were inside the temples.  These are all over 30 feet (10 meters) tall.

The hieroglyphs inside the temple look like they could have been made in the last decade, as they were clear and mostly free of defacing. This temple was mostly buried in sand by the 6th century, and then lost to memory until the 19th century, when it was discovered in 1813 by a Swiss explorer. Being buried and forgotten saved the temple from the Christians who defaced many temples during the Middle Ages.

The hieroglyphs in this temple were mostly open and available to touch, unlike many of the later temples we visited. The long chamber in the lower-left image leads to a chamber where a golden statue of Ramses (the god being honored by this particular temple) existed when the temple was being actively used.

Israel

I found Israel unpleasant and unwelcoming, and expect to never return.  I have never had this reaction in any of the other 81 countries we have visited.  To be fair, we were only in the country for three days, and one of those days was misspent with two abhorrent excuses for humanity posing as tour guides.  This pair definitely colored our experience and left us with a bad taste in our mouths. There, I have said it.   

Now let’s try to show the part of the country that was more pleasant.

In 1980, we lived in Beaverton, Oregon when Mt St Helens erupted, which destroyed the High Tech industry of the area. Intel then offered Evelyn a chance to relocate to California to be the engineer in charge of planning for three international  projects. One of these was a semiconductor wafer fabrication plant in Haifa, Israel.  On our first day in Israel, we drove past the plants that she helped build 30 years ago, and snapped some photos, one of which is shown above.

We also drove up the Mediterranean coast of Israel and found that the landscape is surprisingly lush and green. We stopped at Rosh HaNikra, where we explored the geographic formations with white chalk cliff faces opening into beautiful grottos.

We entered one castle in Acre, the largest Crusader city in the country. This was interesting to see, even after all the castles and temples and churches we have seen over the past couple months. The interior included some well done animated wall projection illustrations (right column) that helped bring the old museum to life.

On the second day, we toured Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Unfortunately this was where we had two absolutely disgusting racist, money-grubbing, kickback-lusting tour guides who completely turned me off to Israel.

(Their sins fell far beyond just grubbing for kick-backs, but in trying to keep this upbeat as best as I can, I will not go into details. I initially went on a rant about these two, but have deleted that portion of the post, preferring to concentrate on the more positive aspects of the country.)

First thing in Jerusalem, we were told to wait in a line for “something fun!” After 80 minutes, where a priest kept yelling “no talking” any time a whispered conversation started up, we were finally allowed into a tiny room. There we saw the small, plain, 14-point star shown above, as a priest yelled “No photos! Keep Moving!” and rushed us out in less than 5 seconds. (Not being one to let small time dictators tell me what to do, I grabbed this as I went by, to show just how “exciting” the view was after more than an hour of wasting our time…)

We had a brief overview of the city of Jerusalem from Mount of Olives, as shown above.

In Jerusalem, we also stopped by the Church of the Sepulchre, the site of the crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb and resurrection shown above.

We took a few interesting photos of people. However, every one of the above photos was a “secret photo” in which the person did not realize he was being photographed.  Every single time a person saw the camera, he would angrily yell at us “no photos!”  It has been years since we met so many angry local people, and is in shocking contrast to our reception in Iran and other countries on this trip.

Our very last day was in Tel Aviv, and we had some free time to walk along the beach. Suddenly, we were met with real human beings who seemed to be enjoying life.  I only wish we had more of this time and experience.

Jordan 4 – Wadi Rum

We spent one night in Wadi Rum in the desert in a tent. As part of the 4-wheeled drive tour, Fadi (our Jordanian guide) stopped at a sand dune, saying there would be a great view of the surrounding area from the top of the dune.  We started the climb (if you have ever tried to climb a tall sand dune, you know that it is a difficult task.  To advance two yards/meters up the hill, you fall back one).

On the way up, we encountered a bunch of friends trying to ski-board down the sand.  That looked like such an interesting scene that we stopped 2/3 of the way up the dune, and spent the rest of the time there.  I first attempted to set my video on slow-motion… then realized that was redundant. These people were having to hop and skip to move a couple of feet!  The sand was a lot more sticky than they expected. The top image shows one person on his board. This was an easy photograph, because he was there 5 seconds before he hopped a little to move another meter down the slope!

Fadi (our Jordanian guide) then climbed to the top and ran down (center-left) to give us some action shots to capture.  About as we were ready to move on, a family encouraged their young child to slide down the dunes.  Again, the little girl ended up stuck in the sand (bottom), and just scooted down a few inches at a time.

Heading towards the camp, we came across this abandoned boat (lower row) that seems so completely out of place that we asked to stop and photograph it too. No known history, other than the names of two brothers and phone numbers spray painted on the side.  Seems like a prop straight out of a Clive Cusler novel.

Our next stop was a small rock outcropping, that Fadi again said would give a good view of the panorama.

Yet another stop enroute to the camp was a slot canyon with ancient drawings on the walls.

As we reached camp, we climbed up above the Bedouin tents to photograph the sunset.   Fadi was waiting for us, while reading his email, giving a nice focus point to our sunset scene (upper-left).  We then got up the next morning at 4AM to head out to the desert for dawn images, also shown above.

The meal was one of the best we had in Jordan. It was called… “(my age is showing — I can’t remember the name…)”, where the pots and plates were buried in the sand, then cooked for two hours with charcoal.

Jordan 3 – Petra – Bomb Scare!

Petra is the crown jewel of ancient ruins in Jordan, and is the primary reason we chose to visit this country. Hidden for more than 2000 years, it is considered one of the seven Wonders of the World with more than 500 tombs and designated a World Heritage site in 1985.

Petra is reached through a long walk of 1.2 kilometers through the Siq, which is Arab for “trench.”  After walking the full length of this path, you reach what is commonly called “The Reveal.” This is the first moment when turning a corner finally shows you Al-Khazneh through the high slot canyon, as seen in the images above. It is a WOW moment.

Al-Khazneh is also known as The Treasury, and is easily the most popular tourist site in Petra. This is due to the combination of being one of the most impressive buildings, and being the first one a person reaches when making the long walk from the outside park gates. Many people have their photo taken in front of the Treasury. Burt is seen (middle-left) taking a photo of a family, at their request.

The actual original intent of Al-Khazneh is not really known, and is actually very small and unimpressive inside (see “bomb” below for more info).  It obtained the nickname of The Treasury because it was thought by the Bedouins to hide treasures, none of which have ever been found.

The Monastery is the furthest that most trekkers reach.  It is a long hike of a couple hours to reach the base of stairs, and then a grueling climb of 1100 uneven steps. We opted to hire donkeys to carry us, and Evelyn can be seen above as she navigates one steep downhill portion (yes, you climb, then descend, then climb still higher on this arduous route).

You may also note that Evelyn is wearing a winter jacket. This is normally the start of summer, and is typically hot.  We were blessed with unseasonably cold weather, with the locals exclaiming they had never seen it so cold in April.  To us, that made the climbs (both on foot and on donkey) a far more pleasant esperience.

Our donkey ride to the Monastery brought us past many rocks with peculiar shapes that were easy to imagine being animals. The image top-left looks like a fish as you pass it, only to turn into an elephant when you are past it (shown above).  As you keep going, at about the halfway mark, you come across the Royal Tombs (upper-center and upper-right), a massive set of tombs for the royal family over the centuries, high off the valley floor.

Finally, after what seems like days of arduous travel (but is actually about 3 hours where the donkey is doing the hardest work), we open up to the Monastery (center and lower row).  This is the farthest that most visitors go, though Petra actually continues for many more miles.

Camels were everywhere to rent for very short rides, walking around the grounds in front of the Treasury.  Most people who got off exclaimed at how wonderful it was, having never ridden a camel before.  (Because we rode camels for 5 days across the desert of India in 1995, we are far less enthused about the chance to climb on one again…)

Horses were also abundant, mostly pulling carriages.  In fact, we chose to use such transportation on our third and last trek through the Siq, to see the “Petra by Night” show (below).

Unfortunately, we found the Petra by Night show to be a rather large disappointment. It is supposed to show the region illuminated by candlelight.  However, they had sold so many tickets, and placed a person by every candle, so that no candles could even be seen (upper).  One man then rose to sing a Bedouin song (center), but it was so dark that it was nearly half an hour before we realized there was a live singer, rather than the music being just a recording.

Then…. Bang!

Bomb!

was the shout that went out.

People panicked, probably with thoughts of last week’s Sri Lanka terrorism attacks.  Some went up the canyon towards the Monastery. Others jumped onto the platform and went inside the Treasury.

I first thought it was part of the show, but later decided it was just a false alarm (what terrorism attack would have a single bang far from the crowd, and nothing further, including no police shouting??).  Therefore, I extended my tripod, and started to get the photos that I had initially envisioned, with a sea of candles lighting the Treasury (bottom).  Evelyn thought I was nuts… but that was not exactly the first time she thought that…

I realized that the police were too busy trying to calm the crowd and get them back to their seats. They would never have time to stop me from entering the Treasury (off limits to tourists).  I therefore sauntered inside the crypt and was surprised at how small and plain it was (center-left).  After about 10 minutes, the police arrived to clear out the Treasury, including my camera and tripod.

Just as Social Media spreads false rumors instantly, so did several explanations of what had been heard. First, I was told by a breathless woman “a drunk policeman fired his gun into the air!”  About a minute later, another exclaimed with authority “I heard it was a drunk Bedouin that got into a fight with a policeman!”  Our tour group organizer said she was told that another tour group (not hers!) had tried to set off fireworks and it had not worked, just blowing up instead.

We walked out of the canyon with two park rangers. We were last out of the canyon because I was taking advantage of the panic to get photographs, and the guards were fairly cooperative about it.  They said that the recent rains had simply loosened a rock, which had fallen into the canyon off the cliff above. They said this happens all the time, but that usually not at such a poor time, nor does it usually cause such panic.

Personally, I think I believe the park rangers.  Partly because “they should know” and partly because it has the least drama, and “the simplest solution is usually the correct one” is an axiom I have long subscribed to…

Jordan 2 – Jerash

The ruined city of Jerash is one of the largest and most interesting Roman sites. You enter through an imposing ceremonial gate, go past colonnaded streets, enter a hippodrome (horse racing track), walk around temples, and can easily spend half a day there. Hadrian’s Arch, the Temple of Artemis, the Forum, and the Temple of Zeus, were all breath taking in the golden hours.

We visited several cities of the Decapolis in Jerash today, and we spent sunset at Umm Qais, a town in northern Jordan that houses the Greek ruin Gadara,  (lower row, where two groups of men were singing chants to each other) overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Unfortunately, the skies were cloudy and the distance hazy, so we did most of our photography on the plateau, ignoring the sprawling view of the valley below.

At one point, a young boy climbed to the top of one of the pillars (top-left) as his mother looked on (top-right).  I quickly moved into place to capture the SuperMan against the storm clouds.  He clambered down and wanted to see my camera LCD.  Soon all his friends were climbing other columns, calling for me to photograph them too.  After nearly a dozen individual photos, I backed up and captured the scene with three boys (of course…!) on columns while their families watched. (center-right).

Gadera had numerous arches that intrigued us.

As the sun began to set, the many remaining columns of these ruined temple were stunning. These remaining structures are more than 2000 years old. Many were destroyed by earthquakes and then partially dismantled by later Byzantine and Umayyad building projects.

Evelyn enjoyed capturing the sunset photos of the small stadium, which was enhanced with dramatic clouds. Many families came here to enjoy the sunset. A local teenage girl had a chance to practice her English with Evelyn. At one point, when Evelyn told her she had to wait 10 minutes for the colors of the sky to turn vivid, she professed to be too impatient to wait that long, and then left tp rejoin her friends.

Meanwhile, Burt wandered among the columns and the plateau where most locals had gone to watch the sunset (upper). It was quite a scene with kids getting horseback rides, while other kids were climbing the ruins.   The clouds all came up within the last hour or so before sunset, helping to add drama to the scene. By the blue hour, the place had emptied out.

Jordan 1 – Amman

Amman is the capital of Jordan, and has been continuously occupied since 6,000 BC. It is the starting point for our two weeks tour organized through On The Go tours (OTG), that will cover Jordan, Israel and then Egypt.  As we stepped off the plane from Tehran to Amman, we were greeted by the OTG rep before immigration, and he walked us through the entire Immigration and Customs process, and had us in our hired transportation in record time.  One thing we discovered through these countries is that the OTG company reps are exceptional in their service at every step of the way, and always exceeded our expectations.  More on this later.

Guess how big that hand in the upper image above is?  Seems massive in that image, doesn’t it.  The hand actually is large, but only about 2 feet (0.6 meter) from finger to wrist. This last remaining remnant of Hercule’s Hand at Citadel, in the Temple of Hercules, is an excellent example of why we often include people in our photographs of monuments.  The people help to provide a sense of scale.

We missed sunrise on our first day in Amman, because the government turned down the OTG application to give us access to the Citadel, before it normally opened at 8:00 AM, well after sunrise.  Instead we saw the Roman Theater landmark, which is nearly intact. Unfortunately, we just missed the dawn light as we roamed around searching for an alternative location.

Later that evening, our driver drove around some hillside roads, looking for a good site for us to capture the sunset, after finding that the King Abdullah Mosque had unexpectedly closed before sunset.  We ended up in the location shown above — where we also happened do discover two wild camels grazing, which provided a nice foreground for the city.

During the day, we walked around the old city, which was hilly with narrow walking paths, and filled with vendors of all sorts. The local herbs and spices market in Amman caught our eye. This was our first real chance to interact with Jordanians, whom we found friendly and willing to pose for us.  The man center-right is grinding a spice, and invited me to come in closer and see the machine in action (this was a photograph by Evelyn, and you can see me photographing the internal workings of the grinder behind him).

Enroute to Jerash, we visited Mt Nebo, a Christian religious site as it is where Moses is said to have first seen the Promised Land, which God told him he would never enter. Madaba is the site of a church that supposedly has the oldest known map of the world still in existence, as tiles on the floor (lower row), as well as where most of the Christians in Jordan occupy. We had our favorite schwarma sandwich and fries from a hole-in-the-wall store in Madaba.

We also made a side stop at a mosaics factory, where we watched how they make highly detailed mosaic designs on pots and plaques.  The work is of exceptional quality, but our suitcases are already loaded beyond capacity, so we had to be content to only watch the skilled workers.

Iran 8 – Kashan – the last stop

Iranian Local: I love you! (while making heart with his hands)

Me: I love you too (chuckling, then asking if I can take a photo — he warmly agreed, and he and his friends posed for the next several minutes for us)

After some more discussion, it turned out that this man was actually Afghan. Though born in Iran, he moved to Afghanistan with his father when he was a teenager.  He was back in Iran visiting his cousin, whom he then introduced to me, though the cousin did not speak any English.

He then declared “I have a lot of American friends!”  Since he lives in Afghanistan, I asked “Are they all soldiers?” to which he replied “Yes! Very nice people!” Surprisingly, this was the second Afghan man we met in Iran, both of whom opened with “I love you!” and both of which were highly impressed with Americans.  Once again, not the response I had expected…

The Persian language used in Iran is graphically very flowing and pleasing to the eye.  Surprisingly, there were many Persian signs that also included the English equivalent, and thus were easy to understand, as shown above.

Others were less clear.  Upper-left here is on one of the charity boxes that are spread through every town.  The red sign upper-right reads “restroom.”  The middle-left is a sign over a “Zolanvari Carpet” store while the middle-right is a “Shiraz handicraft” store and the lower-right declares a “Parnian bag” store.

This quote is from the Iranian leader about Hijab: The Iranian women Hijab is not an obstacle, they are active in social and scientific activities as well as in their personal life. Such “words of wisdom” from the Supreme Leader are spread throughout all the cities.

You have probably noticed a common theme in these blog entries on Iran. The people are warm, friendly, almost always smiling, and appear genuinely glad to meet Americans — usually their “first Americans.”  In two weeks, we occasionally met someone who was camera shy, but nobody ever waved us off with any sign of anger.  Most of the time, they were glad to have us take their photograph, and often laughed when we showed them the result on the camera LCD.

We almost never photograph young children unless their parents are nearby. In every case we did so, the parents would encourage their children to say hello to us (sometimes the only English they appeared to know), and to smile. The parents then always thanked us for taking photographs of their children, even if they could only say it in Iranian and body language.

The group in the lower-right here shows the Afghan man in the center who told me that he loved me at the start of this post.

We started photographing hands somewhere along this tour, finding them interesting and a way to sometimes get a shy person to open up for portraits.

I would like to close Iran by noting again that it was Mehmet Özbalci of Fantastic Photo Tours who arranged this, and convinced us to join him on this Iran adventure.  It will definitely remain in our memories as one of the most enjoyable two week tours we have taken.  If you ever have the chance, please make an effort to come here yourself.  If you do, then we both strongly recommend Mehmet as your guide to this culture, as well as many others. (We have already arranged to join Mehmet for Myanmar next year — stay tuned for details!)

Iran 7 – Kashan (the real story)

Happy mistake when the camera was moved while shutter still open.

Iranian Local: (after opening pleasantries and surprised that I am an American.) My English is good because I studied hard, expecting to go overseas to study.

Me: You did not go?

IL: No. We discovered we could not afford it after the collapse of the Rial (the local currency).

So what is the real story of the impact of the continued American sanctions?  I cannot speak for any government plans to create a nuclear bomb, as I have no direct knowledge.

From our experience though, I can say that the government does not appear to be hurting in any obvious way.  There also does not appear to be any desire to overthrow the current government.  Thus, from all appearances, the sanctions has completely and absolutely failed in its stated goals.

On the other hand, the local people have been hurt in ways that no American can begin to comprehend. Their life savings have completely disappeared. As a direct result of the American sanctions, the Iranian currency has collapsed. In 1979, the Iranian Rial was on par with the US Dollar. That is, 1 IRR = 1 USD.  Today, 1 US Dollar equals 135,000 Iranian Rial. So, if that happened in America, and you had $1 Million in 1979, you would have $7.40 today.  Think about that a moment…

Some of that can be blamed on the religious revolution of 1979.  However, the Rial collapsed another 66% in May 2018, within one month of Trump’s withdrawing from the Iranian treaty and his desire to start a war.  In the US in the 1980’s inflation reached 13.5% and American savings were being wiped out. Imagine if that inflation were 300% instead, and created by a single external country intentionally?

Despite that, we never once met an Iranian who blamed Americans for their problems. They did blame the American government — along with their own. They never held any animosity towards us as American people though, and in fact, welcomed us openly.  They also appear to be almost universally smiling and happy as they walk around town or play tourist in their own country at the same monuments we visited. We felt safe the entire time we have been here.

I am pretty sure Americans would not be as welcoming to foreign tourists if the tables were turned…

We went again to the Naqshe Cehan Square for the morning blue hour (in other words, another day rising well before dawn!

The photograph at the bottom is actually from the hotel we stayed at in Kashan — a centuries old home of a wealthy family converted into hotel.  It had twists and turns, and half a dozen fountains like this one shown.  Stairs were steep and frequent, and this was clearly not a place for an elderly or mobility-impaired person to stay.

We also visited another bath house, mosque and garden, continuing to collect images of unique and beautiful architecture.

In the afternoon, we drove to Qom to photograph the holy shrine dedicated to Lady Masoumeh Fatima. This is considered one of the most holy shrines in Iran.  Photography is normally not allowed in this shrine at all, after the this site was bombed recently.  However, our guides negotiated to allow us to use our cell phone cameras (though not SLRs).  This was considered a major concession, since even the local Iranians are not allowed to take photographs of any type.

Iranian Mullah (upper-left): You are the best ambassadors to Iran. We hope you will take photographs, tell stories, and explain to the world that we are peaceful and not like what the Western newspapers say.

And that pretty much sums up the attitude we found everywhere we went in Iran.

Iran 6 – Isfahan

Iranian Local: Are you married?

Me: Yes.

IL: Where is your wife?

Me: Over there (I pointed to Evelyn on the next rooftop, shooting a different set of images from where I was pointing)

IL: So, you are divorced?

Me: No. We have been married 46 years.

IL: Then why is she not here at your side? (discussion continued about no need for two cameras shooting the same scene, etc. He could not understand how a wife would not always be at the husband’s side.)

This was one of many conversations that opened up the different ways of looking at the world between the Iranians and ourselves.  Many (but definitely not all) Iranians we met assume that the wife should always be at the husband’s side if outside the home. We have a much more “both are equal and independent” view, but neither is necessarily more “correct” than the other. It does drive home how much our views of the world and society are primarily a reflection of our own neighbors and friends.

Yes, we got up twice before dawn for these photos above in Isfahan, the third largest city in Iran… Once for the Sio So Poi Bridge (upper-left and lower-right), and a second day for the Naqshe Cehan Square. Mehmet takes us to places to take the best photographs — sleeping and eating are totally secondary on these trips!

At Meybod, we photographed the old castle, and the fascinating pigeon tower (center, lower-left and lower-center). This was a tower originally filled with pigeon food to encourage over 4000 pigeons to roost.  Their waste was then collected daily and used for fertilizer in the surrounding fields.

Mosques are everywhere, and all are colorful and full of interesting patterns.  The one in the middle image above was being repaired, which was fairly common throughout the country (actually throughout the region, as we also saw that in other countries too).

We were served lunch by a local Iranian family in their home. Afterwards, they demonstrated how the man of the family uses his loom to make kilim, a flat woven rug, while the elderly woman who owns the house showed her skill at weaving carpets. The loom is located in a cave, where the temperature remains fairly constant throughout the year, and throughout the day, acting much like a wine cellar in that regards.

We had some free time to wander around Naqshe Cehan Square, where we were able to photograph Iranians enjoying their day off, walking or sitting around the large center fountain, or riding a horse carriage around the park.

As we leave Isfahan, here are a few random images of the people we met, and sometimes talked to.  Smiles always greeted us, never a wave-off for our cameras.

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