Sometimes, throughout our job as tour operators, we experience unique situations which amazes us on different levels. The presence of Gail Thompson, the 74-year-old American-Canadian in Iran is one of the latest amazing experiences of this type.
Just before sunset on the 9th of March 2017, while all my other colleagues had left the office and I was about to step out, the phone rang. It was an older lady’s shaky yet assertive voice who said she is interested in solo- travelling to Iran in the best possible tourism season, spring.
Her voice was warm and kind, “I used to be horse trainer in Iran”, she said and “would like to come to Iran, once again after 40 years, to see this memorable land, the monarchy’s horse farm, the horse club of the queen, the Turkmen harbour horse racing, the traditional Turkman horses and more importantly my trainees.”
Her way of explaining things was so touching that I was determined to help her by any means.
In saying that though, I was also aware that there are often sensitivities associated with the visa arrangements for those who had connections with the Shah regime and they may not be successful in getting a visa. With having these presumptions in mind, I was also aware that with the election of Hassan Rouhani as president of Iran, there is more of an open space for tourists to visit Iran and I would endeavour to make it happen.
Gail’s first visa attempt, coincided with the Muslim ban which president Trump introduced to ban people from 6 Muslim countries, including Iran, to the US. In a reciprocal measure, the Iranian Government ceased to issue visas to American citizens and as a result, Gail’s trip to Iran was up in the air.
Whilst corresponding with the Horse Riding Federation of Iran, we were told that after almost 4 decades during which Gail had not been in the country, people spoke of her as a punctual, well organised trainer whose unique instructions used to lead the horse riding team successfully...
Gail Rose Thompson's books are collections of stories of her time during a wonderful and exciting few years in the beautiful country of Iran, filled with kind, gregarious, fun-loving and intelligent people, as well as beautiful horses.