Zagros mountains February 4, 2006Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
One of the most beautiful things I saw on my trip to New Zealand was Iran, which makes me think all things must be better seen from above than from within. I certainly did coo with awe at many of the things I saw in New Zealand, but I think I was even more awe-struck on the flight home when flying over the Zagros mountains. I think I need to start an awareness-raising campaign for the Zagros. I mean, no-one’s bloody heard of them, have they? And yet they were breathtakingly gorgeous. One of my many flights on the way back home set off from Dubai. Now on the way there, I hadn’t had a good window view and only happened to catch a view of these mountains as I waited for the loo. Disoriented and unaware that we had crossed or were about to cross sea, I assumed the mountains I saw were in the UAE. But the journey back gave me a prime view. It was the best film I had ever seen.
As we left the UAE coastline behind and flew over lovely calm seas, I thought how dreary it was that cloud should so soon come to spoil the view. And then thought, “But is that cloud?” And it wasn’t. It was parched earth. It was southern Iran. And only remained flat and parched and colourless for about a billionth of a second before stunningly wonderful jagged dry mountains loomed into view. I was hooked, and it helped me avoid conversation with my effusive German banker neighbour.
Now I know Iran is huge, but I started worrying that the poor old Iranians must have nowhere to live. The country seemed to be one big mountain range. In the south, they were dry and brown. There seemed to be no life among them. But the odd town would pop up every now and then. And I was trying to remember my Geography classes from school and thinking alluvial plains and lush valleys and that those clever old Iranians must have thought to take shelter there. The mountains (and flight) went on and on, lasting the whole length of Iran. We flew over beautiful canyons and gorges. And the mountains got higher and higher, until they were eventually snow-capped. The clever map in the plane pointed out we’d soon be flying over Shiraz. I expected lush greenery (though not vineyards), but it didn’t materialise.
Romania put in a brave bid to steal the top beauty spot from Iran but didn’t quite pull it off. The Carpathians were also staggering, but not as staggering. And Romania looked familiar and similar to the world I knew, whereas Iran didn’t. Iran is now solidly near the top of the list of utterly unlikely holiday destinations again. Utter beauty.
Considering I vaguely pretend to hate flying, I think I secretly love it. Such long flights were a bit of an adventure in themselves, but I greatly enjoy the unintentional views. A couple of years ago, the Russian and I visited my sister in Barcelona. It was early March, so still arctic here but already warmish there. The city was marvellous in every way – location, looks, food, atmosphere. But the flight home, over the Alps, stole the show. Now I’ve been to the Alps. Twice. And was of course struck by their beauty. But seeing it from 10000m is just 10000 times more wonderful.
Similarly, Auckland’s location, undoubtedly its main selling point, is seen so wonderfully from above. On a narrow isthmus between two harbours with islands dotted all around in pristine seas, it’s a wonderful sight.
Which is not to say, of course, that one should spend one’s holidays flying over places, rather than being in them, but a view from without is just that bit more wonderful than a view from within. Shrinks might agree.