Jean B̩liveau and the wwwalk РNewsletter November 2007

Dearest friends!

I have no idea how was your late summer, for our friends of the Northern hemisphere and your early spring for our friends of the Southern hemisphere. Mine was quite busy! I am certain that you have comfortable doubts that my life away from my darling Jean is spent predominantly on the computer and this mostly to work on his never ending walk!

As my computer was getting old and upgrading it would cost quite a bit of money and still I would be stuck with an old machine, I decided to buy a new one… Would you believe that I migrated from a Windows PC to Apple iMac?

I first fell in love with the design of the iMac but after numerous searches on Internet and trials on the demos of a boutique near my home, I decided that I would be able to make that big move! The transfer of all my files went really well but I must get used to
quite a different environment! Finally after many hours of reading and testing I believe to be functional regarding the works of the wwwalk.

Let us now move to the news about our friendly walker!

On August 1st he emails me from Astara: “That’s it! I am in Iran! It is the country where the border formalities have been the shortest. On the other side, you can just imagine the scenery: streets full of people and vehicles, signs displaying the Persian alphabet, the bazaars and travelling merchants filled to the brim with merchandizes of all kind, veiled women etc.”

The weather is hot… around 40°C and after having walked along the Caspian Sea coast, our walker climbs the continental shelf, cooler weather-wise, that will bring him to Isfahan. He soon realizes that there is absolutely no security problem in this country and that the Iranians are really nice and welcoming. He writes: “Under a rather sombre appearance, it is a most colourful people!”

Communication is difficult… cyber cafes are rare or their networks are very slow. On August 7th, Jean enters Rasht where he must have his sandals repaired as he started wearing them at the end of Georgia, the shoes that I had bought for him in Istanbul
having walked more than 2000 km. He has to plan a shopping spree for clothes and shoes when he gets to Tehran.

He celebrates his 52nd birthday and the 7th anniversary of his walk in Saveh and on the following day he emails me: “I really thought that I would spend that day alone and sleep in the desert… finally, I spent the evening in the company of executives on road construction on their work site and we clinked glasses filled with orange juice! It was a wonderful celebration!”

Jean sincerely thanks all his friends who have send good wishes for his birthday… he is really touched by your kind thoughts. Once more, the friendly association of walkers for children in Buenos Aires sent their August 18th souvenir-photo.

He boards a bus from Saveh to Tehran where he visits his compatriots at the Canadian
Embassy with the help of whom he plans a new walking itinerary in Iran. He will thus
avoid Balutchistan, the south-eastern part of the country and this for security reasons.
He will rather walk directly towards the port of Bandar Abbas in the south. There, he
will embark on a ferry that will take him across to Dubai.

During his stay in Tehran, he buys some clothes including a pair of shoes! He also has
his camera repaired as it had suffered an accident previously. I reiterate my request of
getting me a flying carpet if ever he finds one in the numerous bazaars! I dream of
possessing such a transportation mean since I was a little girl… that is a long time
ago!!!

The Canadian embassy, concerned with the cause of peace for the children, helps him to
organize a few meetings with people working at the UNESCO, of “Hamyaram Iran NGO Resource
Centre” where Mr Baquer Namazi lets him in on a much dreamed about project, with regards
to the concept “Children: Zone of Peace”. Jean is devastated when Mr Namazi informs him
of some 600 000 refugee children because of the conflicts in the Middle East. These
children mostly come from neighbouring countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thereafter, he meets with people of “UN High Commission for refugees” where he learns
about the efforts made for the repatriation and reintegration of these thousands of
refugee families. An Iranian family who has relatives living in Montreal invite him for
dinner and a little tour of the capital city.

Back to Saveh on August 28th, Jean gets back on the road, walking towards cities with
names evocative of the ancient Persian civilization: Isfahan, Persepolis, Shiraz… and he
thinks he might afford a small break to visit a few archaeological sites. About a hundred
km before Isfahan, in Meymeh, he meets Farzad Shahabeddin who is captivated with the
wwwalk and welcomes the walker warmly.

Once in Isfahan, he meets Poli, a relentless traveller from Madrid. We had both met Poli
during our holiday in Spain in the winter 2005-2006. They share dinner reminiscing the
wonderful places they both visited. I keep pretending that we live on a small planet!!!

Jean lingers in Abadeh for a few days to consult a dentist as he has a sore tooth. He
emails me: “Iranians are so nice that I cannot help loving them! They are really cool and
have a way of thinking that is very similar to ours. Their political and social
leadership is different but their hearts are the same as ours.”

On September 25th, he visits the archaeological site of Pasargad where he can contemplate
the monument that is said to be the tomb of Cyrus the Great and following this visit, he
writes: “When I left the site, I felt a great happiness! How privileged am I to have
travelled so far in Human History! From the American Empire, I went to the Totonaques,
the Aztecs, the Mayas, and the Incas. Then in Africa, I saw the prehistoric Rift Valley,
Abyssinia, Egypt of the Pharaohs and of the Romans. In Europe, it was the history of the
Greeks and the Romans, that of Christianity, then the creators of overseas empires,
Portugal, Spain, France, England followed by Germany and its history. Then, I went south
to the Ottoman Empire and now I am deep in historic Persia! Imagine now what awaits me
yet in the exotic East!”

A few days later, he offers himself the time for a long visit of Persepolis where again
he is moved to press the soil of the ancient Persian capital and cannot help a few deep
thoughts on our Humanity… its origins, its future…

In Shiraz, after obtaining a second extension on his Iranian visa, he realizes that
visiting time is over and that he must now hasten to leave the country in time. However,
he does not leave the city, which is claimed to be the most beautiful city of Iran,
without having met a group of students from the Shiraz University of Technology. The
students are amazed with the wwwalk and assail him with all kind of questions.

In Fasa, he is welcomed by a group of friends who lavish him with constant attention! He
reaches Darab on October 13th and I do not have a word from him for a whole week. If we
examine the maps of the region where he is walking, we can see that the cities are fewer
and smaller. Internet accesses are consequently almost inexistent… so much so that when
he arrives in Kankhom, he goes to Hajjlabad by taxi to consult his Inbox.

Six more days without a word from him and finally an email from Bandar Abbas on October
26th! On the evening of the 29th, he phones me from the Office of Tourism of the province
of Hormozgan.

“The famous hospitality that we allot to the Iranian people is not overrated! They are
one of the most welcoming and warm-hearted people I have met so far. The people from this
Office of Tourism are fantastic with me. They gave me the ticket for the ferry that will
bring me to Dubai tomorrow and this evening, I was invited to a party in honour of my
wwwalk in their country. Walking in Iran was most pleasant!”

Till next time…

Luce

www.wwwalk.org

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1 Comment

  1. Dear Jean
    I will be in Isfahan for six days and would like to do a half-day (or a full day) walk. Can you recommend an interesting route in the city or, preferably, out in the countryside? Is it safe for a solo woman? Or are there local guides that might accompany me?
    I follow your Wonderful Walk with great interest. My walking is MUCH more modest.
    Regards, Judith

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