The Faces of Iran: No, I’m Not at All Afraid

Here are some of the faces of people I was supposed to be afraid of when I departed for my trip to Iran. Again and again, these earnest, fun, and sincere people asked me what I thought about the reality of being here versus the myths and propaganda that is published day after day about this country.

“People think we ride camels, and that we live in a desert like Saudi Arabia,” said one of these wonderful young women, who work for an Iranian tour company.

Despite my optimistic attitude and constant comments about their friendliness and the safety here, it’s an uphill climb to promote tourism from the US. I had an interview with the President of the Iranian Tour Operators Association, Ebrahim Pourfaraj, who told me that only 500 Americans visited Iran last year.

That’s a staggeringly small number, considering how big this land is and how much there is to see. Another gentleman approached me at the meeting with warm smile

These girls told us that they rarely worry about showing off their hair in Iran. This is in Isfahan.
These girls told us that they rarely worry about showing off their hair in Iran. This is in Isfahan.
He was Saeed, the owner of Iran Doostal Tours, who I met in Malaysia two years ago and told that I wanted to come here. ‘See, I told you I’d get you here,” he said with a laugh.
He confirmed that this trip has been a miracle because of the way Iran’s government handled the visas. Being able to get a visa in the airport on arrival is unheard of, especially for Americans.
You can’t really blame them considering that many Iranians I met said they had to travel to Dubai or Turkey as many as two times just to get an interview to try for a visa to come to the US.
I really hope that with our new president, we can put this silliness behind us, and allow free travel between our two countries. After all, in “Tehrangeles” there are nearly two million Iranians, but with the hassle, few make the trip back to their homeland. I will try my best to be an advocate to change these policies, because the world and especially Americans, would love it here if they only came. P1520042 773858