There’s two types of wows, there’s ‘Wow, it’s incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it. I could die tomorrow and I’d feel like I did enough. In fact, kill me now, I’ve peaked, from here I can really only regress’. Then there’s ‘Wow, it’s really average. Kill me’. After the initial exhilarating fortnight in Iran, I went through a few days where there seemed to be quite a few of the latter ‘wows’. Stuff just seemed average. Thankfully no-one killed me, though quite a few of my drivers tried. Rational fear is fear based on facts and evidence. For this reason, my deep fear each time I stepped into an Iranian car was quite rational. Iran is the car fatality capital of the world. There’s no mystery why, they drive like lunatics, and don’t wear seatbelts. I’d almost be sniggered at for putting my seatbelt on, and testing it out each time I stepped into a suicide machine, sorry… car, ‘The tough men die in the crash, only the pussys survive… with their seatbelts’. ‘Ah, If we should happen to brake suddenly while moving at this speed, there’s only one place we’re all headed – heaven, and there’s only one way to get there – by smashing out heads through the front window’. I thought about buying a helmet and padding for each journey.
Back to wow factors. I went through a period of extreme apathy, as i began to learn how to figure out when Lonely Planet writers were talking balls, and when they were talking sense. My theory is, being travel writers, they’ve probably read a lot of travel writing – Hemingway, Twain, Polo etc. And sometimes they just can’t resist exaggerating their writing so they can make it sound more poetic, and put it in their folio. Some of the stuff they wrote was just plain nonsense. I’d look at the attraction, then re-read their description, ‘wait a minute, you think this is the most exquisite thing in the world?’ If i was editor, I’d say, ‘Ok, put the joint away, sober up, and rewrite your piece. This time, make it non-fiction’.
As with life, behind every grey sky is a burst of sunlight (unless you’re talking about London in winter), the tide of apathy promptly turned, and it turned in the oasis city of Garmeh. My guesthouse host had been talking down Garmeh the entire time I was with him. Lonely Planet said it was a must-see. Mohammad said I should avoid it – I was confused. And no internet meant I had no way of finding the truth. I went to Garmeh by virtue of circumstance, rather than choice. I’d decided to head further north to a more remote oasis, but they were was no accommodation available. So I decided to stop in at Garmeh for a night. It would be one of the more memorable nights of the trip.