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The following day, driving to see the migration route around the Yellow Mountain, one of the Zagros high peaks, we stop in a landscape that reminds me of Monument Valley, Utah, and Habib talks about the dangers of the migration, about the wolves and bears. ‘And for this reason, Bakhtiari men like two things. A weapon and …’

‘A woman?’

‘No… dogs. Because when men and women are sleeping, the dogs are watching out for them.*

A little way down the road, we come to a different sort of lookout: a man scanning for police. His friends have parked their cars on the verge, turned up the music and – there in the wild – are doing what they cannot do in the city. They are dancing. ‘Come and join us!’ Which we do. They are heading home to Esfahan, as we will soon be. When we leave them, a couple of the young women ask if I have any friends looking to get married. ‘Send them over,’ they chant. ‘We want a ring!’ I wonder if I will meet them in Esfahan, back on the Khaju Bridge where I go the evening I return. But I see neither them nor the young Bakhtiari. From there I go to dinner in the courtyard of my favourite haunt, the Abbasi Hotel. The waiters wear baggy trousers and black felt Bakhtiari hats and tourists take photographs of them, Iran’s famous nomads. It is then I realise how lucky I have been to travel into the mountains and share that fleeting moment of nomadic life. Soon, if tourism in Iran develops the way many in the country are hoping, we will visit Esfahan in the same spirit that we go to Marrakech, to play and shop and feast. And then we will head into the Zagros mountains, towards places like Chelgerd and the Kouhrang Valley, in the same way we now go to the Moroccan High Atlas, to clear our heads, free the mind and spirit, and have an adventure with travelling folk. But why wait for resorts and restaurants to open, for courses and excursions to be planned? You can go to the mountains now. All the important things are already there…

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