Once again Shahin and I (Amir Sina) hit the road to discover another part of Iran. Our destination was northwestern Iran, where the provinces of East and West Azarbaijan are located at the head of the cat that is Iran on the world map.
Our first stop was Tabriz, the capital of East Azarbaijan. In Iran, Tabriz has a reputation for being home to the most compassionate people in the country and as a place where trends are set. Tabriz is actually where Iran’s first municipality, school for the hearing impaired and chamber of commerce were established. The kind-hearted people of Tabriz have made it a tradition to leave no person in need and as a result this city has no impoverished population.
Even though we arrived in Tabriz late at night, we were still impressed by its many eye-catching squares and network of freeway tunnels. Shahin and I drove around a bit to get a feel of the city. Shahin had visited Tabriz before I joined the team, so he took me to a little place he had discovered before for Tabriz-style Baklava and ice-cream.
We woke up early in the morning to continue our trip to a border town named Jolfa. Our plan was to see as many of the old churches and monasteries scattered along the way. I had heard about one particular church named “Mojumbar” that was located on the road to Jolfa and was lesser known. No matter who we asked for directions on the road, no one knew where this church was. I was frustrated. I was upset because I thought I had wasted our time. Suddenly Shahin came across “Sahragheh Church” on the map that was not far from where we were.
I googled the church but there was no information about it. This was exciting! We felt like exploders going on an expedition to discover a place that is virtually unknown.
The road to Sahragheh was unbelievably beautiful. Colorful mountains with wheat fields stretched as far as the eyes can see, cattle and sheep grazing together under a blue sky with cotton candy clouds and cool fresh air. I felt like we are in a dream! We pulled over several times to snap pictures. Every time Shahin or I would say ‘we can’t find a better shot than this!,’ the next bend in the road would prove us wrong and present us with another breathtaking view that would force us to pull over for a photo.
We finally arrived at Sahragheh and immediately spotted the church standing atop a hill next to the village. It was an old church that had been recently renovated. It was modest yet beautiful. There was no one there except for me and Shahin. We were enjoying the calm and quiet when one of the villagers came to greet us. We chatted with him and offered him some grapes we had purchased on the way there. We spend a few hours there before it was time to go.
Although we had originally set out to find the elusive “Mojumbar Church,” our trip unexpectedly turned into an entirely different adventure. Perhaps this is exactly what life wanted to teach me: don’t lose hope or be disappointed when your plans fall through because if you keep an open mind, you just might stumble upon an unforgettable experience that will make up for everything lost.