Blonde, short, Dutch, multi-lingual, and with a great smile, and seeming ability to make friends with everyone…Lisa was a fellow traveller on the Trans Asya Express. Although I saw her earlier we did not speak until on the ferry on Lake Van. It seems she was better at making local friends simply because she tried, but perhaps also because she was dressed completely appropriately with headscarf and long sleeves, was a young female travelling alone (and so a curiousity), and didn’t have books, laptops or other things to distract her.
Lisa was en-route to Yazd where she was going to work in ‘The Silk Road’ hostel’s new guesthouse 70km north-west of the city. After three months of that she would travel to China to volunteer at an orphanage for 5 months, then study an International Masters in Beijing for 2 years. Lisa explained that the parents of the children in Beijing were all killed or jailed by the Chinese government for political reasons.
She was also a circus performer, citing her natural flexibility as one of the reasons she now counts the tissue, static trapeze and partner acrobatics amongst her skills. Her talents have already been put to use in Palestine and Israel, and were of interest to the Belgian-run orphanage who were looking for ways to develop the children. I told her that I was 99% sure there was a special box to tick on the online or paper Chinese visa application form for ‘circus or acrobatic troupes’ – it stood out so clearly to me because the only other options were something like: businessman, government worker or ambassador.
We stayed together, sharing a taxi, hostel room and first-days wandering around Tehran. Her trip sounded wonderful and I reckon she will be a pretty inspirational, cultured, multi-lingual wonder by the time she reaches my age…in 8 year’s time!