Neil's wheelless 6‏ – note my uncle is not "crazy" he prefers deranged

The latest installment of my Grandpa’s adventures have him slowly easing all Iranians into loving old American men. He should get a peace prize that one. Sending him safe travels still.


Dear Neilophyte;

            Finally, more news!

            For those of you who were hoping for a post card: so sorry.  Neil has no time to write cards.  They are zooming through 12, 13, or 15 hour days of power sightseeing and long-distance driving.  All of which, makes him so tired by the end of the day that he even forgets to telephone his favorite son-in-law with the pertinent details.

            The major issue that Neil and the others have been dealing with is the upset tour guide, Fatima.  She exhorts the tourists to not engage in conversation with the locals whether at archeological digs, at city parks, or in museums, because they might stray into the territory of politics or religion.  The women on the tour were especially told not to talk to any Iranian men.  Of course, Neil has a hard time passing up anyone that might be willing to talk with him.

            Case in point: they stopped at a roadside rest area for a driving break.  There were a bunch of picnic tables and no other people around except for one old Iranian guy.  As soon as their van appeared, the guy grabbed a bunch of grass and swept off the tables for them.  How could Neil resist?  Neil offered him a cookie. The Iranian indicated that he didn’t have any teeth and couldn’t eat the cookie.  (I guess the Iranian Social Security copied the US system and doesn’t cover dental work.)  So, Neil got him a cup of tea.  One more example of Neil’s subversive behavior.

            As their van drives around, they have about six police checkpoints per day.  The driver must present papers to the police to prove that they are legitimate tourists, on the correct road, with official government permission.  At each stop, the police then phone ahead and advise the next checkpoint that the van is coming. The watchers are watching.

            Neil said the roads have many speed bumps to slow the traffic.  These create the perfect place for crippled beggars to hang out.  Since the cars must slow down, they are ripe for begging.

            Many towns have memorials with pictures of the martyrs from the war with Iraq.  Neil noticed that there were no pictures of women martyrs and asked why not?  The guide explained that dead women aren’t martyrs. How could Neil have been so misinformed?

            The group eats in local restaurants many times for lunch or dinner.  They are often served fish.  At one such lunch stop, the group was the first and only group of Americans who had ever eaten at the restaurant.

            At one point in the tour, they were near the border of the Kurdish region of Iraq.  In a park, Neil noticed that a group of 10-year-old girls were watching the group.  Of course, he tried to approach them – but the girls weren’t having any part of it.  A guy in the park explained that the girls had been taught that Americans wanted to kill them.  After a “forbidden” conversation with him, they exchanged mail addresses.  The girls, finally overcome with curiosity, came over for pictures – giving Neil a chance to kill them all with kindness.

            The guide later asked what was going on.  Neil explained what had happened.  The guide wanted to see the paper.  Neil showed her.  She went ballistic when she noticed that the guy had written “Free Kurdistan” at the bottom of the piece of paper.  Now, the guide wanted to confiscate the paper.  He said, “No.”  She said, “Well, at least, tear off the Free Kurdistan part.”  He said, “No.”  The guide was later heard mumbling to herself, “Why did I study English instead of Russian?”

            Neil’s voice was hoarse – he assumed from the air pollution caused by oil refineries.

            The weather has been clear and warm in the high 70’s F  (24-28 C).

            Lots of farm land with sheep and goats.   Many shepherds, but Neil only has seen two female shepherds.

            In one city, I think he said Shiraz, they visited a Jewish Synagogue.  Neil asked how many Jewish people lived in the city.  The rabbi said 5 families with a total of 15 people.  Slim pickings to find a wife.

            Neil saw a couple of guys full-mouth kissing.  So, he asked the guide what was the penalty for being homosexual?  Hanging.  And, what was the penalty for adultery?  A fine and 75 lashes from a whip – but the lashes could be reduced for the right price.

            Every chance that he gets, Neil talks with the locals, guide-approved or not.  And, all of them have said that they like Americans – just not the American government, or their own government either, for that matter. One guy told Neil that Abraham Lincoln was the best American president because he freed the slaves.  I was impressed.  Many American high school graduates wouldn’t know that.  For my own part, I know all of the leaders of Iran during the 1800’s and what they did.

            No ransom note yet.



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