Translation to english by Mila T. <3
When we reached the border on the 22nd, we only had a limited idea of what to expect. The military convoy was supposed to be free, driving through the “dangerous” area of Balochistan would take roughly three days, and it would be good to have some sweets for the Levies, as we had heard. Who exactly are these Levies? What does the escort look like and would we even be allowed to drive alone outside Balochistan? We had heard different answers to all these questions and so all we could do was throw ourselves in these uncertanties and hope for the best.
The border crossing was rather easy and in the late afternoon we found ourselves on Pakistani soil for the first time. The first night we spent in the police station of the small border town Taftan. Even though we slept in front of police stations several times on our trip, it was the first time for us inside.
In the morning we set off on the main road that connects the border with the last large town of Quetta in the east of Balochistan. From there we could travel on our own, as far as we were concerned. Accompanied by a Levies who joined us in the car, we shuffled from checkpoint to checkpoint. They turned out to be a kind of auxiliary police responsible for securing the road and posts outside the cities. We were escorted, not as we had imagined by several military vehicles, but by only one machine gun-armed man. This, too, put the thoughts and worries that we had about this part of our journey into the background. It was a very relaxed mood. With one or two scraps of English and one or two rounds of “Speech Barrier Charade” we even managed to entertain ourselves a bit with our protectors.
The ritual at the checkpoints was similar. Upon our welcome with the few pieces of Urdu we had learned, we were asked about our ancestry, which seemed to elicit only positive feelings from the soldiers, and we shook as many hands as never before in our lives. Occasionally we were offered a cup of tea, exchanged WhatsApp numbers or instagram accounts. Rarely have we been received in a country with such open arms and welcomed as warmly as in Pakistan.
We spent two days on the road to Quetta. The closer we got to the city, the more the accompanying behavior changed. The individual Levie became a truck, the truck a heavy armored military vehicle, and finally four motorcycles made their way through the dense traffic. It is absolute madness that all of this was provided for us at no cost!
In Quetta we spent two nights in our camper in the parking lot of a hotel, because we were not allowed to sleep in our car on the street for safety reasons, let alone walk around. So we worked on the website and waited for a document called “NOC”, which gives permission to pursue the rest of the way through Pakistan to Lahore, the last big city before the Indian border.
After receiving the permit, some convoys brought us a few hours further east and then left us so suddenly that we were not sure if we should go on to the next check or if this was it.
It had taken four days and without warning we were suddenly free 😊