I almost didn’t tell my family I was going to Iran. My mother and father worry for my safety, as parents do, and are sources of endless reasons why I shouldn’t visit certain destinations. They’d handled my ambitions to travel through Myanmar back in January 2013, and Mongolia that May. They’d done admirably well when I began planning my doomed-to-fail motorcycle trip through Central Asia. But Iran… I didn’t even want to think about that conversation. When I was planning that leg of my trip, I had it firmly in mind to only inform my friends of my itinerary.
But I suck at keeping secrets.
I told them, but before I did I made sure to do some preparation. I visited the sites of other bloggers, Goats on the Road and Heart My Backpack to name a few. These were people who’d been to Iran and had raved about it. When I told my parents, I passed along a few of the articles. “Read these before you freak out.” I told them. “Just give me that much.”
They did. I can’t say they were thrilled, but they handled it remarkably well. I know it was for my benefit, and I appreciated that.
Iran turned out to be as wonderful as I’d hoped it would be. Never have I been to a country where I felt so welcomed, not even in Mongolia. I couldn’t even walk down the street without being greeted cheerfully, engaged in conversation, and offered friendship. When people found out I was American, they didn’t respond with hostility. They were curious, asking my opinions on their country and culture. Sometimes, they’d ask me what I thought of Obama or the Ayatollah. But not once did those questions turn hostile. Not once was I blamed for the sanctions which choke their economy and increase hardships the country over. Not once was I held accountable for my country as a whole.
The one time I felt uncomfortable about being an American was my last full day in the country. It started with Obama shooting an infant with the Star of David.