Tony Wheeler Goes to Iran and Loves It

It’s been a whirlwind of a few days, it’s nice to be back for just a brief spell at home base. Manhattan was the usual mix of exciting nightlife, people from the past, and potential trips that we’ll be writing about all next year. We were taken to a wonderful small Dominican Restaurant called Clinton in Soho with Bruce Northam, who regaled us with tales from his trips to the Philippines and Vietnam, as we dined on fajitas and drank Presidente beer.

Then Thursday after a great show visiting European tourism people, we drove up through the virtually traffic free West Side highway, then even later I followed my TomTom GPS home to Deerfield. I was scheduled to work in the cafe, so Friday was a long day in the cafe, finally capped off with a pizza and a collapse in the chair.

But I did manage to read quite a bit of a wonderful new book by one of travels’ major deans: Tony Wheeler’s Bad Lands. In the book he travels to places that are considered ‘bad’ or off limits, or somehow off the path of most writers.

We follow him through Albania (marveling all of the time at the little bunkers that dot each and every hillside and beach) and Cuba (where he is bothered by the unfairness of the split between tourists and party officials who get convertible pesos and regular folks who only can spend pesos that buy nothing) to Iran, where he has the most fun.

Wheeler’s love for Iran is evident, everywhere he goes people want to speak English. He goes to a party where beer flows and headscarves are removed. He finds people who are so gracious and charming, and so unlike what we read in the news about ‘death to America’. He makes me want to go to Iran and meet these people who seem to eager to embrace ordinary Americans, despite the crap that is spewed by ultra religious leaders. They call the mullahs lizards, quietly.