I just landed at Miami International Airport in the United States. It’s a relief to be out of the Middle East. You have no idea how frustrating it is down there, for a young male raised in the West.
We take for granted, the ability to walk up to a girl and see her face, and legs in all their glory — and if we’re lucky, her freshly pedicured feet, clasped by the thinnest of high heeled sandals. I fully understand the concept of “leave it up to the imagination”, but as long as there is a hint to guide the imagination, that’s a fine philosophy. In the parts of the world where I’ve been since starting this blog, the only hints are (usually) the eyes, and sometimes not even those. So, that’s nice to see. I had to stop by the embassy in Tehran before leaving for London to pick up my papers. That meant I had to shave off the beard, walk over to the nearest British military base in Qunduz to get a military lift to Eptabad, on the Pakistan border with Iran before hitching a ride to the Iranian capital. I’m extremely grateful for the near eastern studies’ language classes at Thames House, which come in handy in this part of the world. I hitched a ride to Tehran from Zahedan, after sneaking in through the Eptabad border pass at night. In the cab, the driver played BBC World Service Radio, which made me happy, to hear familiar accents. The Persian culture is a wonderful one — they don’t ask questions, are a welcoming lot, and very generous. Because I entertained the cabbie with my stories of being a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, writing wire stories for BBC News 24, he didn’t even charge me for the 1600 km trip, which was good, as I didn’t have any Rial. The trip took 16 hours on the worst roads on Earth. If I was in a different profession, I’d have taken pictures — parts of the drive were gorgeous. Our meals were of generous quantities and often had at random strangers’ homes. When we arrived at the British embassy, the driver was asked to wait outside as I walked in, shaved properly, showered, changed into a new set of clothes, and picked up my next assignment. Next stop, the Imam Khomeini International Airport south of the city. From there, the Alitalia flight took me to Heathrow and a Virgin flight to Miami.
I landed at Miami, took the cab to South Beach and partied my first day and night. I relearned my Cuban Spanish for my next assignment — any guesses where my next posting is — hee hee?