I responded with "America".
Predictably, they would say: "You from France?"
I answered "No, United States".
They would then say: "You from Germany?"
"No", I would say, perhaps a bit more firmly, "The United States of America".
There would then be a pause and then a light and smile simultaneously coming on in the person's face:
"AMERICA? How you get here?"
After a while I could predict the sequence at the moment the conversation started. What amazed me is how surprised they were to see an American. True, there were so few of us there, and it’s not as if our governments are friendly, and I’m certain they’re not exactly comfortable with us wrecking the countries next door, and we are the " Great Satan ", and they are " The Axis of Evil ", and...well, maybe there is good reason...
Things I noticed:
1) not many Iranians speak English
2) the people I met were invariably most welcoming
3) good food, especially if you like kabobs (yes, I do)
4) even though their administration may not be universally admired, their attitude towards that is similar to ours -- eventually corruption, mendacity, and ineptitude eliminate its carriers
5) the antiquities are unique, exceptional, and well cared for
6) there is noise pollution (not barking dogs, though -- no dogs at all) and, in some cities, air pollution -- but the streets are clean, and there are no beggars
7) some chemistry happens when you speak the same language -- Farsi -- that your ancestors have been speaking for more than 2500 years; a connection with the whole past (and not just the past of your own civilization) that is so intimate and so comfortable that you embody it without leaning on it; an expression of confident culture and effortless sophistication.
Iran is a fine place to take photographs. Not as colorful as India but vibrant in a subtle way; more so than you would expect in a country which is mostly desert. I try to capture the essence of a place in a photo -- doing a travelogue is not what I'm about. Mostly I fail or succeed only partially (what is a partial essence?). Occasionally I get it or close enough for a double take. The pictures you find here are the best or those which Ms. DragonFire (Linda) and I have agreed to be worthy of inclusion. We hope you like them.