When I started this company, I only thought about running hiking, climbing and outdoor trips. But then I got asked by a few not-so-outdoorsy friends whether I would run a cultural trip. I wasn't sure. There are already so many companies running such trips! How would I cope leading a group through different cities and cultural/historical sites! Would I be bored? Would I be stressed? Would I miss the mountains! Would I screw up the whole thing!
As Usual I decided not to overthink it and just give it a go. I got an itinerary, a plan and soon 10 people to join me on this trip including Emanuel the first person I could call a true friend after I moved out of Iran and my husband's ex boss and his wife! What was I thinking?! What if it goes wrong? I cannot screw up!!
I was set for perfection! I was on a mission! I cannot lie as my normally-relaxed head was slightly restless and worried and in the days building up to the arrival of the team, I suffered from many sleepless nights and nightmares!! Losing clients in the busy bazaars! food poisening! awkward and unpleasant group dynamics! Wake up! Breathe!.. It will be fine! Go back to sleep!!
To make things worse I also invited my parents along and before I knew it, another couple, dad's old friend got on board! Now I had 14 people including my dad who has got a reputation for getting tired and grumpy while travelling and just not coping with heat or crowd! Also would he be able to just relax and let his little girl lead the whole thing? Something he has never done before?
Man.. little I knew that this would turn out to be nearly perfect. That the group proved to be the sweetest bunch you could ask for! That I would have the best driver ever and my guide Farid proved more popular than me (not allowed). Above all Dad was the happiest I have ever seen him over a period of one week with a stamina for sightseeing I never knew he had and my mum always smiled at me! She was proud!!
From an IFMGA guide to an Archivist, I never had such a diverse range of jobs, background, and ages, yet everyone clicked, bonded and almost became a family. I witnessed humanity without boundaries. Little beautiful memories flicker by.. of Mahin (the Iranian lady accompanying us) holding Prof. Mecklenbrauker's hand helping him with the stairs. Of Jamshid (dad's friend) cooling the hot and sweaty face of another member with his red hand fan. Of rounds and rounds of sweets and nuts that were shared along the long road trips. of the sweet protectiveness and support 'I-am-there-for-you' and 'are-you-all-right' comments that I received when I suddenly found myself in an unpleasant situation and got upset (had nothing to do with the team rather with a bad service we got somewhere) Of the little eye contacts, smiles, pat on the back, nods of appreciation that were exchanged all along the way. Of all the little Farsi words the team had learned and used wherever they could. Of dreamy walks under beautiful tiled archways and domes in mosques, romantic strolls around the fountains with air infused with bitter lemon and pomegranate blossoms in the Persian gardens. of feeling small and humbled by the enormity and history that Persopolis oozes with. Of the smell of rose water, herbs and Saffron in the bazaars... and above all the hospitality, the openness, the smiles, the endless selfies and 'welcome to Iran' s that Iranians showered my team with.
I am thankful and feel blessed to have been in the position I was. To have had the honour to orchestrate and be part of the amazing journey we had. To be able to make mum and dad proud and give something back to them, and my beloved country.
Conclusion : I will definitely run another cultural trip :) but apparently mum and dad, their friends, the driver and Farid the guide must be on it!! Not sure I am wanted as much!!!
p.s. Photos of the actual sites we visited will be added to the trip page soon