December 7. Bam – Mijaveh (Balochistan)

[29°01`07.4”, 061°27´04.3”]

Km today: 398

Today it happened…. Somebody (no Crewmember) told me I can´t do that. Everybody who knows me knows my reaction when somebody tells me things like that – I have to find out if this is true….. But read all day stories from the beginning:

We leave Bam around half past six in the morning and the first 200km are like nothing! We make a great team on the road even though I am not nearly as fast as the others. We have been told we will get police escort starting in Bam so we tried to avoid this by leaving at a time when police is still sleeping – successful. Short after the police checkpoint we stop at a petrol station and take as much petrol as possible. Even the water bottles are being filled with petrol. We go down to 400m (first time below 1000 since Kappadokia) and then up again. Landscape is incredibly beautiful and soon after we have a break at 400m we climb up the mountains again. I am very slow so all the others wait for me on the top of the mountain at around 1500 m above sealevel. I pass them and next there is a very nice downhill road so I go up to 100!

Unfortunately a few kilometers later there is a police checkpoint so I have to stop. The others are far behind me now so I stop and wait until they arrive. We have to take escort here – no chance not to do it. One police car drives in front of us and so we go on. Police car is driving much faster than I can so soon I am driving lonely on the road – what to do? A few kilometers later I see them all standing on the roadside. I think they have been waiting for me again and want to pass but police guys stop me – we have to wait for the next escort. Waiting always takes a little but as we are close to Zahedan already when getting the first escort we arrive there around 12 o clock.

Today many guys carrying an AK 47 sit next to me in the car – they are all very nice but I don’t like arms inside my hippiebus. Border is only 70km to go and opened until 4 pm so we decide to take the border today. But then in the “city” of Zahedan escort changes approximately 5 times and every time we have to wait at least for half an hour. Driving at night is not recommended in Balochistan and we have been told police will stop us in the evening. Anyway we leave to the border city (Mijahve in Iran) shortly before sunset (of course with police – they took our passports at the first checkpoint) and arrive there when it is already dark. Needless to say the border is closed already.

In Zahedan we told the police guys several times we need petrol – they kept saying “yes” but obviously they don’t want to go to a petrol station – every time we hear the next escort will take us there…. So as soon as I see the first petrolstation in Mijahve I stop there. All the others appreciate my decision so we fill up with petrol. Diesel is unfortunately finished today. (Well I still have a drill machine with me for worst case….)

Next the police brings us directly to the (governmental) hotel and hands the passports to the guy at the reception. I want to have mine as I haven’t seen a room, don’t know any price and it would be a bad situation for negotiations if they already have my passport. Policeguy pretends to give it to me two times but pulls back when I want to grab it. Now I am pissed. I go outside, take my stick from the car (to protect myself – we are in Balochistan and it is not allowed to leave the hotel without police) and go to the market to buy some stuff to eat – alone.

I already told the police several times I have to go to a shop but they were ignoring me and I am hungry. No good idea to play games with me when I am hungry AND tired. I go to the market and find out people here are even more friendly than before in Iran. Probably they are little curious too because I am on my way without guard. I buy what I need and go back to the hotel where four police guys go crazy searching for me. I give them a smile and then ignore them. Minutes later one of them wants money from me for the escort. I tell him to give him money as soon as I have my passport. He tells me I get tomorrow so I reply he will get money tomorrow. Seconds later he gives up and leaves without money – mashallah.

The guy at the reception tells me it is 150.000 rial for the parking – which is 8€ for one night, even in Topkapi in Istanbul I paid less and a room costs 200.000 rial. I am ready to pay 50.000 but his lowest offer is 100.000.- so I tell him I park outside the hotel on the street and sleep there. He says this is not possible / not allowed and threatens to call police. I have to yawn not only because I am tired but because I have heard this too many times all over the world. I start suryananda and out we drive to park 5 meters next to the hotel entrance while hotel guys are walking around in the garden using their cell phones.

Five minutes later they tell Adam my windows will be broken and my petrol stolen at night while I make contact to some very nice young guys outside. All of us know this is just another story to make me drive back inside so I don´t care at all – obviously police is already tired discussing with me – they don´t come. I am glad the others are pretty neutral but share my thoughts. To be honest I have the feeling we only get the escorts here to keep foreigners (and their money) far away from balochi people. Vienna feels much more dangerous even though even boys carry AK 47 here. However the first day driving/riding in a group was really amazing. We had great fun all day and enjoyed a lot. All of us made many pictures and movies all day so I can hardly wait to see and share them. Tomorrow we will be in Pakistan and as we know how to handle the escort service now I am sure it will be a wonderful day! I can´t wait to get Samosa, Byriani and REAL chai with masala and milk there!

I love this area and I love the people here. In the evening a beggar came to us when we were smoking in front of the hotel. Looking clean and just standing there for a minute not bothering us at all. I am happy I didn’t use my last rials for parking and give him a little money and offer a cigarette. He looks up to the sky puts his hand on his heart and is happy. After we all ate (I ate in the car the others at the hotel) I meet Marianna and Roberto in front of the hotel. I offer chai and quickly go back to get some. When I am back at the hotel to bring it they all sit inside so I bring the chai there and sit down at their table.

A minute later the hotel manager comes and gives a cup to each of us (including me) and offers tea too. I take this as an offer for peace (even though I know this is my very European way of thinking about things like this) and accept I am very close to india already. People here are like this they try what is possible and once they know how far they can go they make friends without being angry about what happened. It´s part of the game and that’s why I love india so much. It is possible to argue with people and as soon as it is done it is really done and nobody thinks of it anymore.

I like Balochistan and Iran a lot! It´s one of the best countries I have ever been travelling. People, hospitality, landscape, nature and historical places are not to be described by words in this country! Later the manager comes to knock at the car and tells me to drive in – 50.000.- is accepted. Acha people here really know how to bargain – it was my pleasure! (even though I don’t like this style – neither mine in that case nor theirs)

When I came to Iran this was my first sentence online and so it will be the last: Forget all you believe to know about this country. – It´s amazing!