Birding before a Turkamani wedding

Between two nights of Turkamani wedding festivities in Syjval, Golestan Province, I traveled to the docks at Bandar Torkaman early one morning. My aunt had mentioned that migratory birds could still be seen in Āshurādeh, an island in the Miānkāleh Peninsula about 3km from Bandar Torkaman. There were guided boats that offered bird-watching.  Although we were nearing the end of their season, I hoped to make this trip in between the festivities.  The driver accompanied me to the docks: empty of tourists so early in the morning.  We hired a boat and were able to see coot, pelican, heron and egret up close.  Our guide, Mehdi, kept a friendly distance from a flock of flamingos so as to not scare them away while the seagulls who were not so shy, squawked at us from above as they monitored our progress.

Mehdi also pointed out a huge elevated wooden cabin where caviar was processed.  40% of Iran’s caviar is produced near Āshurādeh Island. 

Caviar facility, Bandar Torkaman, Golestan Province

As we rode back to shore, we also got a glimpse of a brick fortress left behind from World War II. Once we said our goodbyes to Mehdi, the tourist shops in the form of traditional oy were just starting to open up.  

Traditional Turkamani yurts, Oy, used as tourist shops along the docks at Bandar Torkaman

I invited the driver to join me for sobhāne (breakfast), but he politely refused.  I on the other hand, could not pass up the delicious breakfast of noon o panir (bread and cheese) and chai o halvā (tea and sesame sweet) after our cold and invigorating boat ride.

Finally, it was nearing the time to drive back to Syjval where the second day of ceremonies would be starting: including a gift-giving ceremony and a musical procession from the bride’s to the groom’s family home.

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