The lifts are old, the mountains cold, but the hospitality and Instagram-worthy moments are off the charts. Iran is likely one of the last places on Earth most people think of taking a holiday, especially a skiing holiday. When Bush Jr. was president it became known as part of the Axis of Evil, and nowadays people are taught through TV news that Iran is a growing threat to stability in the middle east. But those who have met people from Iran realize the country is largely misunderstood and today we have two guests on the show, Americans John Fiddler and Kathleen Egan, who tell us exactly how misunderstood most of us are, based on their experience traveling and skiing in Iran.
Much like the people of America aren’t like their leaders, the people of Iran are very different from their leaders too. Yes, they are Muslim, but unlike the religious government that is constantly at odds with Western powers, the people of Iran typically represent the warm and welcoming face of Islam, as the religion teaches people to give great hospitality to visitors.
Scott talks about why he has wanted to go and then Trevor explains that, “Having studied political science, I know the history between the US and Iran. From film, including the brilliant Persepolis, and having known Iranians who emigrated to the US after the 1979 revolution, I understand that Iranian people aren’t generally like what the propaganda would have you believe. It’s a very modern society and unlike most Islamic countries, women there have the right to education, to drive, to go to nightclubs, etc.”
Trevor goes on to say, “As for Skiing… I knew Iran had mountains, but I never really thought about Skiing there when there are so many places around the world to visit. When I heard that my friends John and Kathleen were on their way there after passing through Bangkok last year, I was so excited to hear about their trip that I commissioned them to write a Dispatch for 2Magazine.”
Guest Intro: Seattle-based John Fiddler and Kathleen Egan have been on a quest to sightsee, volunteer, and mountaineer in all the corners of the world. While traveling in Patagonia in 2016, John and Kathleen met an Iranian who told them all about his country and its mountains, including Damavand, which John had heard about from a friend years earlier. From that point on they were obsessed with seeing it—and skiing it.
To listen to John & Kathleen’s answers to the following questions, download and listen to Episode 69 Skiing in Iran on SoundCloud or iTunes Now!
- We briefly mentioned how excited you were to go to ski Damavand, but really WHY did it become an obsession. What did you think was so special about it that motivated you to go somewhere most Americans would think was just plain crazy?
- So, how big a leap was it from thinking about doing such a trip, to actually planning it?
- What were your friends and families reactions when they heard you were going to Iran?
- What was it like as an American when you first arrived in the country? Did you feel conspicuous or afraid?
- So let’s get to the real desire behind going: What was Damavand like? Did it live up to your expectations?
- From your Dispatch we know there are 20 ski areas in Iran and that you went to both a proper ski resort to get some turns too. What were the ski resorts there like?
- Do you think it would be a good destination purely for skiing? Are there proper resorts and a good variety of advanced trails? How could people plan a ski trip to Iran – do they need to take all their equipment or can you rent it there?
- I remember you had a couple other experiences that might be unique to American travelers? Did anyone pick you out of a crowd because they knew you didn’t belong?
- How was the food in Iran? What’s that like?
- You made a few side trips along the way. One was to Shiraz? Is that where the wine comes from? Isn’t Iran a Muslim country: was there any wine there?
- I think many people don’t know what Iran is like. Is it modern, is it western, do the city’s feel like any big city in the world, or does it really seem like someplace really foreign?
- Did you experience any interesting festivals or holidays while you were there?
- I know from the Dispatch and from Kathleen’s blog, that you were most impressed by Iranian people’s Hospitality: Considering Trump is in the WH now, would you still recommend that people travel to Iran?
- Finally, any other tips for people planning a trip to Iran?
- Do you think you’ll go back?
Check out a Google Map of John & Kathleen’s Iran Skiing Adventure Here!
About our guest: You can read more about John and Kathleen’s trip to Iran on Kathleen’s blog: KnuckleheadAdventureTours
To learn more about Scott & Trevor:
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