National Geographic : 1958 Jul
Four Iranian Mechanics Work Four Hours. The Douglas party arrived in Behshahr just as the last drop of gasoline drained from a punc tured tank. Garagemen jacked up the car, resting the rear axle on wooden blocks. Then they removed the tank, cleaned it, and welded the hole with an acetylene torch. pieces. Aslam, visibly shaken, slowed down. As the dust cleared, I saw the animal slinking away with a limp. We reached the hotel in Herat about two o'clock in the morning. A sleepy manager appeared. "Four of you?" he stammered. "I expected only one." Aslam found a bed in the servants' quar ters. Mercedes decided that I should take the single bed; she and Mary would sleep on sofas in the lobby. "Impossible," snorted the manager. But that was the viewpoint of a man who knew women only in purdah. "I'm too tired to argue," said Mary, who was already spreading a sleeping bag on a lobby sofa. Though we stayed only two days in Herat, it became one of my favorite spots (page 23). A green city of 80,000, it lies in a huge bowl rimmed on two sides by low hills. Herat's buildings, with few exceptions, are low, flat mud houses. The dirt and cobble stone streets are wide and clean, and their sides are lined with pine and tamarisk. On the edge of the present city stands a huge mosque dating from the 12th century. A bronze bowl five feet tall stands in the court yard. It was the custom of Shah Sultan Hus sein, who rebuilt the mosque, to summon the poor to the bowl and feed them each year on a holy day. On festive occasions the Shah would have the bowl filled with sherbet-a sweet, cold drink that we of the West later froze into a dessert. Wire Fence Marks Iranian Frontier Aslam could not go with us to Iran, now only a few miles away. Parting was hard, for we had enjoyed his cheerful company. We said goodbye several times and drove off leav ing him standing forlornly in the street. We passed through customs quickly, filled the tank with the last of our Russian gasoline, and drove across a frontier marked by a wire Total Cost: $1.65!