The new year has arrived even though the pandemic is still here and will be for some time. But 2020 lessons will remain with us forever. This year we had more time to ponder on who we are, the journies that have made us – us, and what our dreams are for the following years to come. We were in lockdown, of course, but the experiences were great and it turned out that we can be more creative and our eyes can be openned to new realities when we are a bit out of our comfort zones. In the year 2020, we had the time to just walk or be still and reflect. Here are some of the highlights that happened to us in this challenging year:
Even though we had so many hopes and plans for the spring Kooch (transhumance) with the nomads, we had to cancel all our plans and the booked tours. Our nomad friends kept calling us and asking why we aren’t coming to visit this spring, and there was nothing more disappointing than realizing we have lost the best time of the year to be with the nomads and in the beautiful mountains. One of the 2020 lessons was not to take the simplest things for granted. In other words, we all had to make and cancel our plans in a heartbeat.
“[We will] give [us] a definite maybe”, a quote by Sam Golwyn.
We can never be sure of anything. Nomads had their nomadic migration like the last ten thousand years, but we could not join them because we were afraid we could take the virus to the Zagros mountains where our nomads live and migrate.
Having lost our travelers and our main source of revenue, we started a new line in our partnership with the nomads: the Nomad Market. IRANomad Market was a spontaneous idea to bring back some revenue and at the same time help the nomads in a sustainable manner to sell their produce especially during Covid-19 when they were faced with more obstacles. We did our best to promote and share Iran’s nomadic life by adjusting to the obstacles we were facing.
“Urge and urge and urge, Always the procreant urge of the world”; a quote by Walt Whitman
The Enriching Experience of Spending Time with the Nomads
Establishing Nomad Market meant that we needed to take a few trips to the nomads by ourselves to pick up their fresh produce such as Kashk(a typed of curdled dairy product), dried wild herbs, and ghee. These trips proved to be a delightful and enriching experience, since it was the only time that we could spend time with the nomads, without thinking about translation or the complexities of carrying out a tour.
“All experience is an arch to build upon”; a quote by Henry Brooks Adams
An important 2020 lesson was to slow down and relish the details. In these trips, we had enough time to stay, socialize, and learn from the nomads. If during the other times, we’d just go there and take the produce, this time we’d stay with them for some days to learn more & more about their lifestyle and specifically how they make the dairy products.
A True Integration in the Nomadic Life
We were only able to host one single traveler this year; Emily Garthwaite, but that one trip proved to be a learning experience even for us. Spending 14 days among the nomads was the kind of adventure that even we don’t get to experience often. This trip proved that there are endless layers of learning when it comes to getting to know another culture. When you spend this much time among the nomads, you truly become integrated into their life and witness intricate details in their lifestyle that you have never witnessed before. We got to learn about the ritual the nomads perform whenever they are faced with difficulties. We learned more about their intimate relationships within the family, and we tried a new nomadic pathway. “Now, what I want is, Facts … Facts Alone are wanted in life”; a quote by Charles Dickens
A downside of being nearly bankrupt by the pandemic was that we had to say goodbye to some of our colleagues and learn the hardships of long-distance working as a group when each member of our team was in different cities of Iran. We are still in touch and eveybody is so kind to share with us whatever they think can pave the way for our future goals, though some of us hardly meet each other in the office as we are still in lockdown. Little by little, we are getting used to long-distance working despite all its difficulties. Bust we keep our hope for the upcoming near future although “The future ain’t what it used to be”; a quote by Yogi Berra.
A major 2020 lesson was to work with what you got. 2020 was the year people started baking at home and working out at home, and us? Without having new pictures and new adventures to post about, we still managed to publish many new articles and used our accumulated pictures at their best. We even devoted more time to work on our website and added a new section that’s dedicated to our nomadic partners and their families. We are still thinking of making more improvements to our websites such as a page in which you can read our travelers’ comments on their nomadic tours. “Between us & excellence, the gods have placed the sweat of our brows”; a quote by Horace.
We started new campaigns to help nomads by teaching them old Persian literature, such as the Shahname, the ancient epic tales of Persian kings. The nomads have a long history of special interest in the Shahname and its heroic poems & stories. We have asked some experts to read these poems for nomad children, and some others to illustrate the stories so that whenever we go to the nomads we can share these literary pieces that the nomads’ ancestors knew by heart. It is a very demanding task and it takes so much time and energy to figure out what is the best way to carry it out, but it’s not impossible: “Madam, If a thing is possible, consider it done; the impossible? That will be done”; a quote by Charles Alexndre de Calonne.
We know this year has been challenging to all of us in its own way, and we are hoping that 2021 will be the year that we finally say goodbye to the pandemic. One thing’s that certain is that even if Covid-19 becomes a thing of the past, we will always carry the lessons that we learned in 2020 with us through the years to come.
Happy new year, and may this year be full of wonderful travel, human interaction, adventure, health, and love to all of you lovely people.