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There is more to consider in Iran than wearing a headscarf. Something that is also very obvious at second glance, but still little known. The partly devastating glimpses of the heavily veiled women and the somewhat too friendly eye contacts of the gentlemen only dissolved when a lady approached us and let us explain from her husband on the phone that as a woman you also have to cover your buttocks, two-layered. We were already angry of ourselves that something so simple had slipped through our planning, because in Ernst’s wardrobe there was nothing at all to be found for this purpose. But we had enough US dollars with us, which were recommended in all travel guides and websites. The Iranian financial system is independent and you can’t get money at banks or ATMs. We don’t even need to start using the Visa card. Well, here’s the surprise…

On the day of our entry, the government has forbidden the exchange of US dollars in all banks, exchange offices, etc. to protect themselves from inflation. As stupid as the moment the friendly banker told us about it, we hadn’t peeked out of our laundry the whole trip. What now? Turn back to Baku? That could just about work with the rest of the $100 we traded at the border. After all, the fuel is almost free… but it should go further. The detour via the ferry to Kazakhstan was not a popular option for us either, and Iran is also one of the highlights of our trip. Then only five days in the country would be nothing half and nothing whole. After a lot of moaning we got changed another $100 in the bank, with which we wanted to make it to Tehran and ask for help at the embassy. But we didn’t get that far.

Not because something broke again, but because we were now hit by the full force of the Iranian readiness to help. At a gas station a young couple approached us, completely enthusiastic about Ernst and our journey. Immediately everything was arranged for us to exchange money. Not 30 minutes later we stepped out of a bank with a plastic bag full of cash. Yes, inflation is really moving fast.

But I was talking about hospitality… How naturally we were invited to join the two and their group of couchsurfers for camping over the weekend. We went up into the green mountains, far away from larger villages, together beside a tiny village. There were already at least 20 tents here, full of friendly faces all eager to find out who was crowding into their midst from far away. The first thing that caught our eye… no headscarves. In the middle of the forest, away from the curious eyes of the state, people were the way they wanted to be.

Many conversations revolved around the way it used to be when women were still walking through the streets in miniskirts 40 years ago. Where faith has not reigned. There was a real tingling in the air, you could feel that everyone here wants a change, but also that the things you tell each other in the rest of the world about Iran simply have nothing to do with the actual people. Half the night we had many great conversations and could take a look behind the scenes for the first time. There stand very proud, educated, hard-working and clever people waiting for their chance to prove to the world who they really are.

We didn’t like to leave these beautiful mountains, but our new friends just wanted to show us more of their country, so after the camping stay we went back to the coast of the Caspian Sea. Here, however, the thoughts separated what one may feel as beautiful, because a beautiful beach did not necessarily mean for us that directly at the water lineΒ  the youngsters in their cars drive up and downwith loud music. Not necessarily that motor gliders fly over our heads with daring manoeuvres… But as already mentioned, tastes are different. The procedure to go swimming was also a bit too cumbersome for us, because you can’t go from the beach to the sea in bathing clothes as a woman in public, of course. Instead, you can rent a boat that takes you a few hundred meters out to sea, from where you can go swimming unobserved, fully dresses, of course. Good thing the water was too cold anyway…

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