Kurdish hospitality

Sanandaj Travel Blog

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People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Fateh (Iran)

It was 18.15 when we arrived back into Sanandaj, so we hopped in a savari to Enqelab Square, as the receptionist at Hotel Nehro said that he could only hold our bags until 19.00. Originally we had hoped to be back in the City by 15.00, so had checked out and planned on continuing to Takab, but it was too late now, so we hoped there would still be room at the Hotel.

'Oh crap' or something to that effect slipped from my lips as we returned to a locked up Hotel. Now what? Suddenly i got a tap on the shoulder and the receptionist was stood there with a big gin on his face. He had closed the Hotel, but had hung around for us, which was very nice of him.

I'm not sure why, but he had literally shut the entire hotel for the evening, so we collected our bags, thanked him and went off looking for an alternative abode.

At the first Hotel that we went to, the receptionist kept changing the price as he was speaking to us and was asking for 140,000 Rials ($14) for a room without a bathroom, so we kept looking. The next place wouldn't except foreigners and the third place was asking for the same as the first place, which seemed optimistic to say the least. The night before we had a room with shower inside for 100,000 Rial ($10), so we weren't sure how a room without a bathroom could cost 40% more?! In the end we decided to call Fateh, to see if he knew of any cheap Hotels in the area that he could point us to.

As we fished around for our phone card, an Iranian guy approached us and offered us his help. It turned out that he had lived in England for a while and had even picked up some of the cockney twang. I told him we were just calling our friend, but he said he would wait to see if he could still help. Fateh seemed happy to hear my voice when i called and immediately told us to stop looking for a Hotel, as we could go and stay at his home. In what country can you go to change money in the morning and end up getting invited to stay at the clerks house that night! Oh how i love Iran!

I was given directions of how to reach Fateh's house and the guy who had started talking to us a few moments earlier simply insisted that he would come in the taxi with us. A few seconds later another guy came to offer his help, but i had to thank him and explain i was already been helped :) The taxi took 15 minutes to get to where we had been told to go and when i tried to pay, the taxi driver insisted that he wanted to take us for free as his guests. I presumed this was 'taroof', so kept trying to pay, but our new friend who had come with us told us that he genuinely didn't want the money. Fateh was stood waiting for us when we got out of the taxi, at which point the other guy shook our hand and said that he was going, his good will mission complete. Such acts of random kindness occur on such a regular basis that it all becomes overwhelming. You want to spend more time with every person you meet, but it sadly just isn't possible.

Having put our bags in Fateh's very nice apartment, we went over the road for a large Dinner. As we hadn't really had the chance to eat all day, Julia and I opted for double hamburgers, salad and fries. The chef in the cafe took delight in speaking what little English he knew to us and i think he made the portions extra large in our honour :) When we went back home we were joined by one of Fateh's friends, who was an English teacher. Sat drinking tea, the four of us chatted for hours about a wide range of topics such as Iran's government, England causing all of the Middle Easts problems (an allegation that most Iranians have haha), the Kurdish people, Obama, teaching and God. It was interesting and light hearted and all of us had plenty in common and found ourselves chuckling away throughout the discussions. In fact, Fateh's friends booming laugh was enough to send everyone else into giggles without a word been muttered!

Around 23.00 we went out to drive around the City for some time and ended up at two very nice look out points, where we were treated to spectacular views of Sanandaj. After appreciating the City lights we returned home at 00.30 and finally made it to bed by 01.00.

The following morning we were up at 06.20, as Fateh had to be at work and we had a long trip to Takht-e Soleiman. He dropped us at a taxi stand where we could catch a savari to the bus terminal and this brought a close on our time together. It really felt like we had known Fateh for ages, even though we had met him less than 24 hours ago. I was sad to be leaving Fateh, Kurdistan province and the Kurds in general, as they had made a really positive impact on me. One thing is for sure, we must now head to the Kurdish areas of Turkey and see if they can somehow top the people here, which is rather a large ask!

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photo by: Deats