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January 12, 2003

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Decent roads make driving a good option for exploring Iran. We drive all day through central Iran, starting early in the morning from Yazd. The kilometers wile away in sand plain monotony, the Dasht-e-Lut desert. Occasionally we pass a crumbling caravanserei, its mud brick walls and low towers stand along the road and show that ancient camel traders came this way hundreds of years ago.
For lunch we stop beside the tomb of a Sufi dervish, Vali. Orthodox muslims don't consider the dervishes as fellow muslims, although to Western eyes the dervishes represent a variation of the Shiite religion. Dervishes differ with other muslims in their belief about the nature of Man and the emphasis they place on Imam Ali, who they revere almost like God.
This swirling symbol marks the mosque as a dervish place of worship
Throughout Iran, domes take on a different character depending on the region. Domes in Eastern Iran are slender, while domes in central Iran are squat.
In the evening we reach a jewel in the tourist crown of Iran, the old city of Bam.
Bam's attractions: sunny weather, date palm oases, and an ancient mud-brick city and fortress.