Asia / Iran / Middle East

Meymand. Yabadabadoo in Iran!

The wheels on the old bus go round and round and we finally reach Shahr-e-babak. Just a short cab ride away, there is a small village called Meymand – another hidden gem of Persia. This trip wouldn’t be possible without Mansour’s help (if you don’t know Mansour I exhort you like a muzzein calling to prayer to read THIS post). You know me, you should also know my travel mantra:  A Local friend is a treasure.

One night in Meymand, a village of troglodytes – cave dwellers – located in the south-eastern Iranian province of Kerman, was an unforgettable experience. Meymand has been continuously inhabited for 2,000 to 3,000 years making it one of Iran’s four oldest surviving villages. It’s an awesome place and today we don’t have to share it with anyone! We are the only guests. How good is that?

Our cave belongs to an old lady who doesn’t speak English. No problemo because Mansour has already arranged everything for us. The lady cooks us dizi for dinner. Add some fresh Persian bread, home made yogurt and local honey for a simple yet super delicious meal.  She makes us a cuppa. Not one, many. I put a sugar cube in my mouth waiting for the hot tea to release its sweetness.

Welcome to Meymand!
Meymand is a unique troglodyte village of kiche (cave-houses) burrowed into gently sloping composite rocks and backed by a wild-west scenic skyline of eroded crags and mesa-like rock formations.
Inside our cave. These caves are called “kiche”. Today, fewer people are choosing to live in the caves, instead moving to neighbouring towns in the winter and returning in the summer. Only an estimated 150 people populate the village throughout the year.
Residents have updated the caves to suit their lifestyle: they have electricity, which allows for refrigeration, and even televisions. However, there is no running water, and ventilation is minimal. The dark film that covers some of the walls is a result of the soot from the fires used to cook or heat the rooms.
My cave man 😉 
Our dinner. Dizi and home made yogurt.
Someone must have turned back the time!

Before it gets dark we want to go for a walk and take some pictures of the village. We notice an old man sitting on a bench in front of a small museum. He turns out to be its custodian and even though he doesn’t speak English, he takes us on a guided walk, shouting single words in English and then swapping to Farsi. We don’t understand. He doesn’t care. We don’t care. It’s actually hilarious. He ditches us for a group of Persian tourists, but to his surprise they are much more interested in us than in the museum.

They are eating something weird and they want us to try. It’s white and round. It looks like some sort of pralines. Sure thing it’s delicious. I take one and put it in my mouth. 

Yuck!!

We must look funny as the Iranians are literally rolling on the floor laughing. 

So that was the first time we tried Kashk. The stuff is made from drained yogurt or drained sour milk by forming it and letting it dry. Have I already mentioned that the Iranians love sour taste? Another local delicacy is garlic marinated in vinegar (sometimes even for 10 years). Wicked, isn’t it?

Hosseinieh – prayer house in Meymand. A bit like mosque but without minarets and with beautiful Persian carpets on the floor. 
No tourists around = hardly any curio shops. Meymand still feels rather authentic.
Me in my hijab.
Twilight in Meymand.

Next morning we go for breakfast where we can play with little Reza, the cuttest kid in the world. We enjoy this lovely morning with him and his family. After being well hydrated with tea we go out for our last walk around Meymand. As we pass the museum, the custodian approaches us again and we end up at his place (or cave I should rather say). He encourages us to try his honey and apricot kernels (they cost a fortune in Europe and here we got a whole bag for free!). His cave is like a studio flat. A bit messy, with an old radio (probably remembering life under the Shah) and haphazardly scattered unidentified objects. This place is ace!

Little Reza.

At noon we have a date with Ali – he takes us back to Shahr-e-babak. All pre-arranged by Mansour (he is a legend, I’m telling you!).

Ali takes us for lunch but when we see the menu we start complaining – Ali, friend, this place is super expensive! We want to go somewhere else, somewhere cheap. He doesn’t understand. We don’t understand. Lost in translation we decide to call Mansour. We are so embarrassed when it turns out that the restaurant is dirty cheap. Let’s face the truth we aren’t as fluent in counting our rials and tomans as we thought.

Meymand is a unique place. Not many people visit as it’s off the beaten track and it’s a bit of a pain to get there. It takes you half day of travelling on a local bus from Kerman, but… no pain no gain and travelling on a local bus is an adventure itself, not to mention sleeping in a cave. Don’t think twice. Go for it! Go to Meymand and  you will shout YABADABADOO – it’s that great, I swear.

Travelling on a local bus you will meet so many local people – these 2 men were trying to talk to use using my dictionary and the little pretty girl must have liked me coz she was constantly looking at me and then didn’t leave me alone until we arrived to Yazd. I don’t complain though. It was proper cute.