'Like a Vision of Enchantment'

An entry from the journal of Helen Jeffreys Bakhtiar on traveling with the Bakhtiari tribe in Iran during their biannual migration.

Going on the migration with the tribes was one of the highlights of my life. We went from the Garmsir or winter pasture to the Sardsir or summer pasture starting from Lali on the Karun river. We took the Cheri Trail, one of the most difficult of the five routes and the principal one used by the Haft Lang tribes. The dangers we encountered were indescribable. We were accosted by thieves as well as wild animals, including a leopard.

I learned a great deal about the life and customs of the Bakhtiaris and their needs, especially in the health field. The drugs and supplies we carried saved many lives. We passed through narrow gorges, packing and unpacking and setting up a fire in front of the tent. A tribal unit of two to eight families travel together. We covered forty-five miles in four days, crossing one range each day and stopping at noon to bake bread and do chores.

On the 11th day we had to wait for two days because of rain on the 9,000 ft. Mt. Minar with an immense wall and overhanging cliffs. On the 14th day we were in Shimbar, the Valley of Sweet Springtime. It was a lush valley and we could see the snow on Zardeh Kuh from there. On the 16th day we killed a wild boar and on the 18th were in the Valley of Mouris. On the 21st day we crossed the Bazoft River, which is 200 yards across. Many sheep were carried away. On the 22nd day the snow was too heavy to go by way of Zardeh Kuh so we went through the Cheri Trail, 11,000 ft. where I saw pink flowers, huge red lilacs and wild irises. On the 24th day we were met by a car to go to Kuh Rang. It was like a vision of enchantment:

Mossy banks and meandering paths
Happy flowers and colorful butterflies
My soul was filled with beauty
At twilight, dim, velvet, violet
Was on the mountain rims
Then deep into the darkness,
Firelight glowing
The rustling of cattle
Grazing on the lush meadow land
In the quiet night one dreams
Of the mysteries of tomorrow
It was a moonlit sweet spring
It was like communion
With Saadi in his Golistan
The sound of rain on the happy flowers
Was the murmur of spring
In growing grass
Mingled shades of color
In wild flowers were music
Sparkling early morning dew
The pale pre-dawn of day, fleeting,
Fleecy clouds overhead
Mystic wind seemingly
Murmuring in melody
Mist so lovely in the wilderness
Surrounded by rugged mountain peaks
Of blue-black-purplish line
On mountain soil I first drew life
A deep delight
Spirit or sense?
Can never forget or even surpass
Except in dreaming.

It was the most unforgettable experience of my life.



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