Kerman > Rayen > Kerman
Kerman is an oasis town in southeastern Iran in the Dasht-e lut desert. In the region temperatures have been known to reach 62° C (144° F).
Drug smuggling from Afghanistan is a serious problem in this area. Our bus was stopped by police on the way to Rayen and inspected for drugs, though not very thoroughly. A kilo of opium costs about $200 in eastern Iran. In the US the street value would be about $200,000 (in 2009).
Rayen Citadel is a remarkable mud brick fortification. A similar and more significant site is Bam, farther to the southwest, but sadly it was largely destroyed by a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in 2003. About 27,000 people were killed.
As our group approached the restaurant that had been selected for our lunch, I noticed three well-dressed men watching us from the third floor balcony of a building across a narrow alley from us. An older man in a tweed jacket and wearing a white turban said something to a young man holding a video camera. The young man moved closer to the edge of the balcony while making a video of us. The third man wearing a black suit kept watching us. Mysterious! I just walked on as though I hadn’t noticed anything.