December 11. Quetta – Sukkur

[27°41´52.6“, 068°51´25“]

Km today: 384

Today I wake up late and the others are ready to go already. I quickly put some petrol in and hurry up so I will be ready too until escort is coming. Adam tells me they want to go alone too because of my low speed. I don’t know what to think, however I take the same escort leaving the hotel. (By the way I can’t recommend Bloom Star Hotel – if you go Quetta try to be there at daytime so you have time to search a good hotel!). 2 kilometers after leaving I recognize I forgot my tank cap at the hotel. I sound the horn twice and turn around. What to do, this was a quick farewell at the end.

On the way back a boy rides a small bike next to me shouting at me. I don’t know what he wants but he sounds angry and makes money signs with his fingers. I don’t care and go on while he is getting more and more angry. Only a few meters before the hotel police stops me. I feel some tension as they want my passport and have a look inside the car. I take my camera to take some pictures and in the same moment they say „Ok, go! “. Whatever the boy told them, whatever was his problem, I go to the hotel to get my tank cap and wait for another escort. Soon a police guy comes and takes me to the police station. I am being asked to come in and have chai so I lock the car and go inside the yard to sit in the sun. But what is this? Inside the police station there are two big marijuana plants…. I can’t believe it and ask the officer who got me the tea. He explains what they use them for (making hashish) and laughs at me. Pictures possible? Why not! Crazy Pakistan!

Minutes later I am on the road and as soon as I leave Quetta I am there alone – no escort! Now I take my own speed an start enjoying the drive again. I dance and sing in the car and take a stop whenever I like to take pictures and chai. So I stop at the first nice tea stall I find next to a river. The chai is not here yet when an officer of the levies arrives by walk to protect me when drinking. He is very nice though it is a little annoying to have police next to me at every step I do. The landscape is not to be described by words – one of the most amazing ones I have ever seen, but I look forward arriving in India where I am free to do what I want without bodyguard. I go on and some hours later I recognize a road leaving the highway leading to a close by village. I haven´t seen any escort for some time so I stop to study the map and think about visiting the village for lunch. I haven´t finished that thought as a levies officer appears out of the nowhere. Village nehi milega (no possible) chalo, chalo (go, go). – I have to leave immediately. From the village there is smoke rising – not unusual in late autumn but when I go on I think this might not have been a straw fire…

A few kilometers later I am stopped by police again. I grab my passport to make the usual entry in their book so they know who and where I am – but there is no book. They just want to invite me for chai so I enjoy their amazing place on the roadside and after three cups of tea I am allowed to go on.
At one of the following check points a levie officer jumps in suryananda again to join me for the next kilometers. I am not really sure if he is escort or just has to go the same way, but he is a nice guy and enjoys a lot when I enjoy the beautiful landscape which is getting better and better. He doesn´t mind I stop many times to take pictures, gives me smiles with no end and tells me the best places to stop to take pictures. When we approach a nice river I ask if it´s possible to wash there. He knows a nice place in a few kilometers! We go down directly to the river by car, I wash and we make many pictures. I ask him if he wants chai and start preparing a little picnic. I have to close the door because of the wind for cooking and when I open it again to come out with the chai I discover Mohamed has not been lazy too. My bodyguard and police officer has rolled a joint while I cooked chai. What the….? I can´t believe it and ask him charraz, police nehi samassea hai? (Hashish and police, this is no problem?) Nehi samassea – Pakistan! (No problem – Pakistan) he replies. Being like a wine farmer in Austria I have no chance but to taste a least. He likes me and even though I don´t like this there is no polite solution but tasting at least. After we go on I drive on the wrong side of the road twice so I believe he regrets what he has done soon.

When leaving the mountain area, Mohamed leaves me too and from now on I am in the Hindus flats. Quetta was at nearly 1900 above sea level now I am at 60 (sixty). I am below 29°N and it is really warm for the first time since leaving Croatia. Before sunset police escort starts again (in their own car now) changing every 10 kilometers without any stop. One car stops the next own comes, I have to stop for seconds only every time. Soon I get hungry and tired. I is 100km to Sukkur so I tell the police I want to eat and sleep. Half an hour later we stop at a big road side restaurant, police tells me this is hotel and secure because they have a gunman. I enjoy the first great roadside food I loved so much in India. But sleeping no possible here for foreigners – unsafe area, I have to go to Sukkur. I ask why it is unsafe and they explain there is an uncomfortable landlord in this area – no Taliban.

The land here doesn’t belong to Pakistan in a way – at least they have no authority here without goodwill of the tribesmen. The road to Sukkur is painful slowly as Sukkur is directly at the Hindus and most of the road has been flooded in recent years. I see several tank trucks that have obviously been attacked next to the road so I am happy to go to Sukkur for tonight. I am escorted directly to the police station and get a friendly welcome. Police officer comes shopping with me (nearly midnight but no problem) and when I go to bed this is the first night I don´t need to use the heating. I love too much!

The goodbye with the crew was strange though – I am really happy I am on my own again trying to have no expectations and enjoy. I find out I felt like responsible for the expectation the others had… I think a lot about this – am I responsible for the expectations of others? I believe I can only give my best whatever they might expect.