The fluent English-speaking daughter of Abbas Barzegar acts as the tour guide around this one-of-a-kind family museum that showcases rural life in Bavanat. The museum has grown over the years and now includes an old school room, a goat-hair tent, a collection of old photographs and the trophies associated with Abbas Barzegar's unexpected role in life as a motivational speaker.
The story of this modest Bavanat farmer is an extraordinary one. It began nearly 20 years ago when two German cyclists, lost in the rain, were welcomed in by Abbas Barzegar and given traditional Persian hospitality. Uneducated and poor, the father of three never expected that this simple act of kindness would lead to a profound change, not just in his own fortunes, but in the life of the community of Bavanat. The Germans, wanting to send thanks to their welcoming host, requested friends to call in on the family while visiting Iran. They, too, enjoyed the experience so much they in turn sent their own friends to visit and suggested that a fee could be paid to stay overnight. And so the sequence of visits grew into a paying enterprise that finally won registered approval.
It wasn't always an easy ride as resentments among neighbours grew, but after a few years the family recognised the need to share their good fortune with the village and today their enterprise supports not only the family but also members of the wider community who are engaged in providing goods and services to the homestay and running tours in the local village and mountains.
As for Abbas Barzegar, he has been called upon to give presentations across the country to explain how a rural farmer can became a successful entrepreneur and has met with dignitaries from many countries. If you go looking for him these days, however, he is unlikely to be found holding forth in front of proud photographs but rather minding his sheep in the orchard.