Troy Nahumko takes us on a wild taxi adventure through Northern Iran in his article, “No Translation Necessary: A Taxi Ride in Northern Iran.” He depicts his roller coaster ride through highways, towns, and mountains. This article follows a fun, unexpected voyage all by taxi.
The lingering smell of burnt rubber was an inauspicious end to an eye-opening journey through the beautiful though scarcely traveled northern tip of Iran. As the driver pitched us from one near-death experience to the next, vibrant green rice paddies melted past the window on the left while the Caspian’s black sand beaches hemmed us in on the right.
The Talesh and Sabalan Mountains may be dwarfed the by towering Alborz Mountains that rise from the smog of northern Tehran, but as they run down the Caspian coast from the border with Azerbaijan, the hues of green found in this fertile area challenge the preconceived idea of Iran being nothing but a vast desert littered with beautiful blue tiled mosques.
Here perennial mists seem to slide off the Caspian and drape these ranges with a diaphanous light when temperatures in the more famous southern tourist sites might be hitting 110º under an unrelenting sun. Brahman cows wander along the roadsides while brightly dressed women tend the tea bushes of the plantations in the area.
Back to that happy reverie before the Brahman jolt. To a place west of the black market caviar dealers in steamy Rasht, where the roads wind through rice paddies and tea plantations that wouldn’t be out of place in Southeast Asia.
Locals rent out rooms to travelers and it’s impossible to walk through the village without being invited in for tea and the orange flavored tobacco that wafts from every terrace, no matter where you are from. The inevitable trinket shops cater to the mainly Iranian tourists looking to buy local delicacies and most of the handicrafts available are locally produced, but livelihoods here are still made on the side of the mountains.
Perhaps the most notable difference after traveling around traffic-crazy Iran, when coming to this green mountain village, is the silence. Due to the way the village is constructed, only the bravest of drivers dare work their way up the tangled paths. So amidst the mist you are treated to something that is indeed rare in this enormous country, a total lack of car noise.