My fellow photographers and I were walking from our hotel in Shiraz, Iran to a dinner restaurant when something unusual happened: we were cheered by a carload of girls. Even in my glory days of youth and vigor, I never elicited excitement like this from any women, so to be sixty years old and have a carload of chador- and hijab-wearing girls hoot at me like I was Elvis was a shock.
Though this was the most emotional reception thus far, my experience in Iran was mostly very positive. Many times people, particularly men, would stop me and ask me where I was from. When I answered “America” or “the States” many times got a “good!” or “glad you are here” or “our nations need to become friends again” as a reply. This was not what I expected.
You see, I figured as much as my government, particularly the CIA, has done it’s best to trip up these people over the years, I assumed the best reception I’d get is a cool nod of the head in recognition and not much else.
I was surprised that people in Iran actually like and admire America. I got that feeling often. It made the trip there so much more enjoyable than I had assumed it would be. I think more Americans should make the effort to visit Iran. The experience will completely change the opinion of the country and its people. And who knows, you may even get to feel like Elvis.