On October 6th 1972 I was in Babolsar on the Caspian Sea in Iran.
It was good to get away from Teheran, which had seemed too busy, too full of traffic, the hardest place to drive, the high air becoming polluted and hanging over the city. And we'd only seen the better side of it, the centre and the northern suburbs: I'd pass through the grim southern suburbs by railway six years later. We drove into high clear air over the Haraz Pass under Mount Damavand and down the long descent on the other side.
The Caspian was different, humid and forested after weeks of driving through the bare high plateaux. The people were open and friendly. The towns were still built largely of mud bricks, with new parts in the centre decorated with rich tiles. At Babol we asked about camping and were directed to the emerging resort of Babolsar. We camped on the beach by a restaurant which served us sturgeon and beer. Swimming was fine and the water not too salty. The difficulty was getting between our Land-Rover and the water, for the beach seemed to double as a highway, with cars being driven at great speed by the holiday-makers from the capital driving in their usual style. You had to run and hope you got to the water.
In the morning we drove on along the plain and had pomegranates for lunch. Then it was slowly back up into the mountains and on to Gonbad-e-Quabus for the night camping outside a petrol station.
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