Sometimes long journeys surprise you as they take you to a totally different place at the end. Starting off from Shiraz, after 9 hour bus journey to south I exactly felt this surprise when I arrived at Bandar Abbas. Bandar Abbas is a port city in South Iran, on the Persian Gulf. It was as if I was in a different country. More like Africa or India rather than Iran. The environment, the weather, cultural texture, traditional clothes, the appearance of the people, skin colours, body types… The only similarity was that I was hearing Farsi around me. This region has a hot desert climate. It has very hot days during spring, autumn and summer (up to 50 degrees) that’s why it is best to visit during winter. So it was so good to be here at the best time.
Bandaris are the local ethnic group who inhabit in the southern coast of Iran. Due to its location at the gulf, the area has welcomed through the centuries a mix of people like Africans, Arabs, Persians and Indians. The traditional clothes of Bandari women are more similar to Indian sarees than hijab of Iran. They also wear burqa, a traditional mask in order to protect their skin from extremely hot sun (we see above). They also wear burqas of different colour and shapes to show their ethnicity. I find the women here more courageous and free compared to other parts of Iran.
From Bandar Abbas I took the ferry to Hormoz island. After arriving at the island I was wondering where to stay but in couple of hours I met Hoda and Soheyl and they generously invited me to stay at their house. What a luck!
After resting for a bit, we went out for an island tour with their motorbike. Hormoz is such a little island that a round tour around the island is only 25km. There are no cars but motorbikes and tuk-tuks. There are also no resorts but just simple homestays that gather only in the town. The rest of the island is untouched. Surprisingly a beautiful gazelle passed rapidly in front of us and made me think that the island was welcoming me.
The island of Hormoz is a scenic geological wonderland of different coloured volcanic rocks and soils. According to researches, geological age of the island is about 600 million years and it has been coming out of water gradually for the last 50 thousand years.
Due to lack of precipitation, the soil and the water are salty. From the geological perspective, the island is one of the most important salt domes of the world. There are some parts in the mid parts of the island that has big salty groundcover looking like salt lakes. (above)
The colour tones in the island are amazing. The wide ranging colours of the soil and rocks include many colours like white, yellow, red, green, orange, beige, brown, light turquoise, and even shiny gold. For instance Rainbow Valley is a highly photogenic natural site to witness this diversity.
This island is living! I can feel it is breathing. everywhere there are countless imprints of this. Every element is performing an organic property, the rocks, stones, the fossil records, the sand, shells on the shores… The stones shine like diamonds. The glitters are astonishingly beautiful. This is a magical island! Feeling the deep energy and interconnectedness between me and all the stones and rocks, I am remembering the teachings of Zen Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Now I realize what he is saying when he refers to minerals in his speeches;
“Life is precious. It is everywhere, inside us and all around us; it has so many forms. I undertake to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals.”
Turtle beach (above) has a spectacular view from the top of the cliff. Just yesterday I was near Hafiz in Shiraz and now I am looking to this beauty and seeing this vast ocean in front of me. I am as if like a bird flying from one place to another. It makes me feel so alive. I love it!
Paradise beach (above) had been the place which I came frequently. The hollows that the ocean and the waves had formed inside the rocks look magnificent.
How beautiful it was to be by the water, put my feet into it, to breath the ocean’s smell, to feel its breeze on my skin, to listen to its voice. My perceptions of my senses were highly refined. My body’s reaction was to dance and dance to this beauty. I swam for the first time in Persian Gulf. Swimming naked I felt the smoothness of the water on my whole body. It was nothing but a sweet blessing.
Red Beach (above) has its name due to the dominant red coloured rocks and sands it has. It is a perfect place to have long walks along the shore from one beach to another. It can also be reached through White Canyon which has its name due to the purely white coloured rocks.
All the coastline is a stunning mix of beaches and awesome cliffs. A walk through the Statues Valley takes you to a point that has a fantastic vista of the coastline. (above)
There are also some stunning caves in the island. Rainbow cave (above) had been the most impressive cave I have ever seen in my entire life. The forms, colours, flowing layers, semi transparent stalactites, crystalline surfaces, all create a breathtaking view.
Each corner of this magical island has a unique feeling. The areas around the Mofanegh Beach is like another planet. You can reach this beach from the sea by boat or you can trek in between the breathtaking canyons. (above)
Huge rocks are standing upright outfacing the strong winds. It is so quite. I am just hearing the breeze and letting myself fully into the silence within. I am feeling gratitude for the instinct that brought me here by the ocean in my last two weeks of my whole Iran journey. After taking in all that Iran has been offering to me for the last three months and breathing them all in, now it is time to breath out.
Coming to the life in the town and the lovely people of the island… The life here is a slow one. Men are fishing on the beach, women are sitting in groups in front of their houses, children are playing joyfully on the alleys.
I enjoyed cycling around the town, resting just randomly somewhere and watch the people passing by. It reminded me of the summer days in the early 1980s when I with my dearest grandmother were going out for walks by the sea in the little town we were living. The smell in the air was just the same.
Local people of the island are so warm hearted. They always give a big smile to you. They like enjoying their times and it looks like the hardship of life is not a hindrance for them to be happy. The women are adorable, I find them extremely beautiful. They like smoking hookah. There is almost no local that can speak English but this never becomes an obstacle for us to communicate. With great hospitality they approach and invite you to their house for a dinner. Furthermore many people brought me gifts and I will never forget their loving heart.
In Hormoz the majority of the population is children. Children everywhere. I am taking each and every chance to play with them. I admire the light pouring out from their innocence.
During my stay in the town every night I was at Cafe Gelak. This is the meeting point of the locals where every night is like an open stage to play Bandari musics. Children and the young people are so enthusiastic to play instruments like kajon, guitars, jalle (udu). Ali the owner of the cafe (playing the guitar) is supporting the young ones to learn to play instruments and sing. I find them so talented, rhythm is in their blood. Despite his young age, my little friend Human (playing the kajon) is not only a talented drum player and a vocal but also a very talented dancer. You can’t stay put but start to dance right away to the lively rhythmic traditional melodies. I love this place.
Here dance is an important part of life. Everyone with no hesitation start to dance when they hear a rhythm. I love their unique way of dancing. They move their upper body in an Arabic way and the lower body in an African way. I had chance to attend couple of weddings. Ah the dances were so crazy and fully alive. My dear young fisher friend Masood (above) who is maybe the best dancer in the island says, ‘Dance is my food’. I love his innocent beautiful smile and laughters. He knows each and every corner of the island. He took me with his motorbike to some points. It was such a fun to have his company when exploring the island.
I was so pleased to stay in the town in my first week with the locals and occasionally experience the island with them. I waited for the rainy days to finish and now it was time for camping in the more remote areas.
This island is a heaven for camping. When I was searching for the best place between Tahtarakht ve Chandarakht beaches I saw an amazing point where a group of people were already camping. After our first warm talk, I already decided to stay here.
I was again so lucky to come across with these lovely people above. Next one week gave way to sincere friendships in between us. It was such a pleasure to cook food together, sit by the fire, sit in silence or have long conversations, make music or sing. The melodies of santur, setar, cura, daf, hangdrum were colouring the wind with their peaceful sounds.
On the front side of our camp there was the ocean and on the back side there was a rocky area with the appeareance of some other planet. I took my times to explore the surrounding. I walked up and down in the beaches and lost myself in the diversity of the gorgeous stones and shells on the shore. You need to be careful to decide on the times of your walk along the sea as there is a strong tide that reaches up to maybe a hundred meter every day. That’s why you can get stuck in between the rocks if you can not make it at the right time.
The island is home to many different animals. I’ve seen many interesting sea birds and herons for the first time in my life. If you are lucky you can see the gazelles. Crabs are either sunbathing on the rocks or running fastly on the beach. One day I saw dolphins dancing far out in the sea. It was magnificent to watch them. Those days in most of my moments I was filled with one line of Hafiz; ‘Dividing God all day’. Everything I see, everywhere I look I was seeing God.
This brings a great expanse to the heart. More you give yourself, more you give love and more you look through the eyes of the reality, the more you receive gifts, blessings. Things start to happen just by one click, right away, through the intentions or the quests of the heart. It is all done! All complete!
One of the examples of these magical moments happened once when I was swimming in the sea. That moment I was contemplating on happiness and suffering. At that moment out of the blue sky a purely white bird had approached me flying. As I was so fascinated by the beauty of it, then I saw another one flying towards me. As he approached I saw that he was totally black. Then two of them in an amazingly beautiful curve approached each other, flied together for a while then detached and went onto different directions. White and Black were kind of a message telling me about the union and cycle of opposites. Beyond the illusory ideas driven from conditionings or conclusions, beyond happiness and suffering everything is one and the same, flowing as One in the infinite reality. There is nothing to hold on to. Not just suffering but also the ecstatic joy as well. The profound Equanimity teaching of Buddha became visible. It is a great orientation that points out the stability which is undisturbed by experience.
Being in close contact with the cycles of nature, greeting the sunrise, watching the sunset and the moon, all were nurturing my soul. At nights stars, galaxies were decorating the sky in high definition. The days were so silent in this remote part of the gulf. This silence and the soft wind were evoking the impulse in me to dance to it. I was going into explorations through whirling. I was attentive on being grounded and at the same time letting myself fully to the center that is the eyes of the consciousness. I rather call my meditations here as deep dives. At various points, by the sea, on the rocks, at any given moment I was going into some deep dives into my true nature. All were so precious experiences.
Living the last days of my Iran journey here wwas like a celebration. All my cells and my consciousness was filled with immense love and joy. I guess I haven’t loved unconditionally in the most conscious way like this before. The most meaningful thing I could do in return was to Be! To be That. And it was as if the universe was saying to me; ‘Well done! Keep on going this way. I will be the soft embrace for you.’
From here I will be going to Turkey to visit my family for some time. The concept of home changed dramatically in my life. Usually a type of a melancholy rises up from me when I am leaving a place. Interestingly it is not happening this time although I had so deep connection with Iran. By the deep feeling of trust and love, the illusory seperation idea is dissolving. It is not like one chapter is closing and the other one is opening in a lineer way. Now there is a new perspective. Everything is coming to life in countless cyclic ways in the great flow of unknown potentiality. In each experience I am learning more and more to be a real voyager.
It is time to honour myself who didn’t let go of surrendering to the dissolution of the ego even it is unbelievably painful and scary at times. It is time to present my deep gratitude for all the forces and beings, all my guides that joined my caravan and showed me the Reality in the path of wisdom and love.
But who is thanking whom?! I am not seeing anything apart from what is within.