Valley of the Assassins
During the 10th century, an open version of Islam appeared on the Alamute mountains of Northern Iran, between the Caspian sea and Alborz mountains. Its followers were called Ismaili and they were ferocious fighters living in fortified castles on Alamute vallues. They were destroyed military and, as this was not enough, a myth was created about them: It was said that they were intoxicated with hashish and presented in such state to maidens in secret gardens, made ferocious and ready to die, and then were sent to kill or kidnap – hash-ishiyun, “hashish-smokers” – or, as it would become know to the west, “assassins”
Returning from the ascent of Alamut castle and its 700 steps – a young Iranian hands over a set of postcards. Nothing unusual here – people selling postcards outside one of the ost touristsic sites of a country. But – wait, there is a catch – after insisting one, two , three, four , five times, the man refuses to receive any money… Iran is the first country I have been where one has to insist (again and again) to pay the taxi driver or the tourist shop seller.