Despite my alarm failing I slept like the dead and was on the street at the crack of dawn for the one daily bus to Khorramabad. I was aiming for Andimeshk but with no direct service and wishing to avoid backtracking from big modern Ahwaz, seeing Khorramabad would be a bonus. On the bus, for once a coach with legroom, I met young Milad, a Mech. Eng. student who became "mi lad" and promptly took over my life, showing me round Khorramabad's one point of note, a small but pretty hilltop castle with another anthropology museum inside. There was the now familiar display of local handicrafts and costumes which was very well done all the same. With Milad's help I also understood more of the artifacts, such as an inscribed plate used for fortune telling, a discarded snake skin which was burnt in the hope of inducing more sheep to lamb, and precious stones which were meant to ensure amorous encounters, I could use one of those. A sewn up goat skin was rocked on a frame to turn milk into butter. There were many photos of people still living the traditional nomadic way and whilst it would have been fascinating to go out and experience it, Milad warned me that the region had a reputation for thievery and even killings. Judging by the size and plushness of his appartment though Milad perhaps had the prejudice of a rich kid, but there were roughnecked beggars out in force for sure. He estimated there to be about 500 murders in Iran each year, a figure perhaps to be expected of most societies but somehow surprising for Islamic Iran, perhaps most were honour killings but then maybe those didnt count! I was also able to query him on who the guy was in the romanticised picture that you saw everywhere, it was Hossein, son of Ali, the martyr for the Shia cause who is mourned like no other. It made me wonder if there were any similar images of Mohammed which had survived the centuries and he said there was only one of him in his youth, it now resides in the Louvre.
Milad was too good at spending money even for my pocket so it was fortunately just a short pit stop in Khorramabad before I found another minibus to take me to Andimeshk. More craggy mountains framed a river valley with many grey herons fishing and a couple of old ruined bridges which had originally connected the sides of a gorge, very impressive. For a winding, climbing road it was clogged with trucks in testimony to the remoteness of the cities in these parts and 55Ks from Andimeshk there was a "Welcome to Khuzestan" sign in English. The scenery changed again to very stark sedimentary rock riddled with dramatic ravines which must have created an untold number of hidden valleys, you had to wonder how well explored some of them had to be. It was dark by the time Andimeshk appeared and pissed off at getting pulled this way and that by taxi sharks I gave myself a long lost walk just to spite them. After eventually finding the hotel I was further stretched by the usual crappy attitude of just saying "Salam" then turning back to the TV or to chat with their mates, and had to further talk the guy down a couple of bucks to still be overcharged for what I got. Even in the street I was getting hassled as the national elections for the Islamic Congress seemed to be reaching fever pitch. Slimey hopefuls proferred greetings and handshakes, youths slapped mugshot posters over anything that didnt move and some things that did, and I almost got mown down by 2 kids on a motorbike in their desperation to give me a flyer. My one job that night was to find the unusually convenient train station and check the times for Tehran, an option but not a certainty. Unfortunately the schedules were not so user friendly as the location.