Our company has been founded on strong personal relationships that go way back. The bond began to strengthen when we started traveling together.
Strong Interpersonal relationships:
Our company is based on strong interpersonal relationships that developed during the trips we took together before we started ‘Jaswig’. And during these trips, we dreamed of starting a business together that could support our simple, outdoor lifestyle. An overview of the places we visited can be found in the following blogpost . After starting our company, we still dreamt about traveling once again. Dreaming has always been our strongest asset by the way. However, little did we know that the journey henceforth would be very interesting.
Practical problem; impossible dreams:
Starting a business was challenging. We invested all our money in the company we were trying to build and thus had little money left to spend on traveling. We worked hard which made it even more difficult to find time to travel.
Nevertheless, our urge to connect with nature was growing stronger with every passing day. Though we had a lot of practical issues to overcome, we pushed through. We figured that we had to keep doing things together; it was after all the base of our company. So, we started looking around on the internet for flights to interesting destinations. There are too many options out there, but one really stuck.
An interesting destination- ‘Iran’:
IRAN. Not the most obvious choice, but for us it was. The media hasn’t been to friendly the last few years towards Iran, which made for cheaper tickets but it kept its mystique. Something new to explore.
We booked our tickets from Brussels to Kiev and from Kiev to Teheran.
A few weeks later, we found ourselves standing in a line in the middle of the night at the Imam Khomeini airport. We waited for a long time in a big queue to get our visa and insurance which were very expensive. So, our ‘cheap airline ticket’ didn’t work out as planned!
A very long night:
It was quite late when we came out of the airport and we decided to rent a cab to Teheran’s city center (past the Mausoleum of Ruhollah Khomeini that was bombed in early June 2017). The taxi driver couldn’t understand the address and it became a very long night for us before we found our hostel. We had to wake the sleeping guardian to get into the hostel. We were sure we were going to have to sleep on the streets of Teheran when at first we didn’t hear any response. Thankfully the guardian let us in after some time. We enjoyed a warm bed instead of the cold streets of Teheran.
Our trekking trip in the Alborz mountains:
We decided to go for a trek in the Alamut valley in the middle of the Alborz mountain range. We hitched a ride and headed straight to Alamut after having enjoyed our first Iranian breakfast!
After having climbed several hundred meters on the pass to Alamut, we encountered snowy peaks and thoroughly enjoyed it.
After we trekked for few more hours, we arrived in a small village named Garmaroud. We had a warm welcome by a local business owner and his family. We were invited into their home to enjoy a piping cup of tea, which was served on plush comfy carpets. We decided to call it a day and slept on the carpets with few cushions that the house owner gave us. It was a very fulfilling day!
We started our hike trip the next day. We equipped ourselves with huge backpacks while our guide Ali only had a small backpack and a stick. After seven hours of climbing and waddling through deep snow, we arrived at the small village of Piche Bon.
Though it was inaccessible for cars due to snow, we managed to find a way through the snow to sleep with a local family. Their clay house was warm and pleasant. We were served tea and we loved chit chatting with them in broken Farsi. They were a delightful family and we loved their hospitality.
Our Financial problems in Iran:
The next day we walked back to Garmaroud as we only had a week in Iran and we wanted to see other places too. We spoke to our former cab driver and asked him to pick us up. We wanted to go to Qazvin so that we could head south to Isfahan by bus. Before we made any further plans, we decided to check our finances. We were running low on cash and had to withdraw some money from the ATM. After asking around we started to get a sense of the fact that it was impossible for westerners to withdraw cash with the cards we had (VISA, Maestro).
Since the banking system of Iran works in a parallel universe that is completely alien to westerners, we couldn’t withdraw any money from the ATM! We tried every single bank in the area and looked on the internet for solutions but it was so hard. It was difficult to find people who could understand us and help us.
Our Financial fix:
At last, we discovered our financial fix. We found a person online whose parents were still in Iran. We transferred money to the person’s Spanish account who in turn asked his parents to wire local money to our taxi driver. Our taxi driver then gave us local money, which was equivalent to 500 euros. It was not sufficient cash but we had to manage. This adventure, as we like to call it made us realize how ignorant we were. We are eternally grateful to those friendly Iranian people for their help otherwise, it would have been a nightmare for us in Iran.
Finally, we headed south to Isfahan by bus. After an interesting trip on the Iranian highway, we found ourselves a room. We then visited the Unesco word heritage Meidan Emam square. It was stunning. It had a surreal atmosphere. It was nothing like we had imagined. It was a beautiful place and our days were spent around this square in their pleasant coffee bars, awesome Biriyani restaurants. Isfahan is such an incredible place. We could go on and on about the beauty of Isfahan but we are going to let the pictures speak for themselves.
Last days in Iran:
We spent the last days of our trip in Teheran, a massively large and polluted city. We spent a lot of time in its nice coffee bars or we just strolled around the city. We wanted to head north to ski in Dizin but we didn’t have the money nor time at that time.
Lingering memories of Iran:
It was a great trip where we encountered very friendly people. We learned a lot about their culture, food, and traditions. Nevertheless, it was a short trip. Hopefully one day we can visit Iran once again to enjoy its magnificence.