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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

There is a lighthouse at Enzeli


We

had passengers on board who had been unable to land on the previous journey, and were now on their second attempt to set foot in Persia. We were rolling a good deal when we cast anchor, and after waiting some hours we were informed that it was too rough for the steam-launch to come out. The captain feared that he must put to sea again, as the wind was rising and he was afraid to remain so near the coast. Two rowing boats eventually came out, and with some considerable exertion of the rowers succeeded in getting near the steamer. I immediately chartered one, and after a good deal of see-saw and banging and knocking and crackling of wood alongside the steamer, my baggage and I were transhipped into the flat-bottomed boat. Off we rowed towards the shore, getting drenched each time that the boat dipped her nose into the sea.

The narrow entrance of the Enzeli bay is blocked by a sand-bar. The water is here very shallow, only about six feet deep. Riding on the top of the breakers was quite an experience, and we occasionally shipped a good deal of water. We, however, landed safely and had to pay pretty dearly for the convenience. The boatmen do not run the risk of going out for nothing, and when they do, take every advantage of passengers who employ them. I was fortunate to get off by giving a backshish of a few _tomans_ (dollars), but there are people who have been known to pay three, four and even five pounds sterling to be conveyed on shore.

style="text-align: justify;">Here, too, thanks to the civility of the Persian Ambassador in London, I had a special permit for my firearms, instruments, etc., and met with the greatest courtesy from the Belgian and Persian officers in the Customs. It is necessary to have one's passport in order, duly _vise_ by the Persian Consul in London, or else a delay might occur at Enzeli.

There is a lighthouse at Enzeli, the Customs buildings and a small hotel. From this point a lagoon, the Murd-ap has to be crossed, either by the small steam-launch or by rowing boat. As there seemed to be some uncertainty about the departure of the launch, and as I had a good deal of luggage, I preferred the latter way. Eight powerful men rowed with all their might at the prospect of a good backshish; and we sped along at a good pace on the placid waters of the lagoon, in big stretches of open water, now skirting small islands, occasionally through narrow canals, the banks of which were covered with high reeds and heavy, tropical, confused, untidy vegetation. The air was still and stifling--absolutely unmoved, screened as it was on all sides by vegetation. The sailors sang a monotonous cadence, and the boat glided along for some three hours until we arrived at the mouth of the Piri river, hardly wide enough for a couple of boats to go through simultaneously, and so shallow that rowing was no longer practicable.

The men jumped off, tied the towing rope that hung from the mast to their belts, and ran along the banks of the Piri river, the water of which was almost stagnant. An hour or so later we suddenly came upon a number of boats jammed together in the miniature harbour of Piri Bazaar--a pool of putrid water a few feet in circumference. As the boat gradually approached, a stone-paved path still separated from you by a thick wide layer of filthy mud wound its way to the few miserable sheds--the bazaar--up above. A few trays of grapes, some Persian bread, some earthenware pottery of the cheapest kind, are displayed in the shop fronts--and that is all of the Piri-Bazaar. On landing at Enzeli one hears so much of Piri-Bazaar that one gets to imagine it a big, important place,--and as it is, moreover, practically the first really typical Persian place at which one touches, the expectations are high. Upon arrival there one's heart sinks into one's boots, and one's boots sink deep into black stinking mud as one takes a very long--yet much too short--jump from the boat on to what one presumes to be _terra firma_.


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