I realized I was the only girl on the plane not dressed in Hijab as the wheels touched down on Tehran’s runway. The seat belt sign was temporarily ignored as I jumped up to get my clothing. I was nervous and excited, incessantly checking the scarf was still in place on my head, as I weaved my way through the airport. Although the Hijab is compulsory in Iran, women can wear a scarf of their colour choice or the traditional black Hijab.
The map I fashioned for my visit to Iran consisted of 3 dots on a piece of blank lined paper. The dot in the middle was marked Tehran. The dot to the north marked Couchsurfing and the dot to the south marked Airport. Walking around a not so crowded arrivals lounge, I began asking one of the most shamefully used phrases in the world,
“Does anyone speak English?”
An Austrian girl offered her assistance. She works for the Austrian Embassy in Tehran and was waiting on her mother coming off a flight. Much to everyone’s surprise she lives in the street adjacent to my couch surfing accommodation. In a 686 sq km city with 14 million people that is some coincidence and quite a feat of luck! It was lovely to share a taxi with such a happy re-united mother and daughter. Contact details at drop off point were exchanged but no money as this was absolutely refused by my Austrian friend.
I rang the doorbell marked CS a few times. It was 7 am in the morning. The door opened and I was beckoned in by a tall lanky man with hair sticking up everywhere and eyes not opened enough to be able to see what was going on around him. He began descending a small set of stairs then paused, turned and walked back to me. His eyes were no more open when he whispered,
“I should probably explain downstairs. There are lots of people sleeping on the floor.”
I had no idea what sort of place this was but as an independent traveler you learn to go with the flow, a lot. The golden rule to such travel is listening to and obeying your gut instinct at all times. I hadn’t slept yet so I took my sleeping bag and followed him down into a basement. It was dark and I could just make out the shapes of various sleeping bundles. The only space left was right where I stood. Even though the ground was concrete and there was no carpet I saw the potential for sleep. I did not have my sleeping mat with me but I was too tired to care and Iay my sleeping bag down and enjoyed the first moments of relaxation after a full night of travelling.
To find out just where I was staying read my next post
As always, thank you.