Early rise to get to the border. It’s 85 km away but the whole area is like an army base. We were stopped 2 times to be checked to as to where were we going and also to escort us to the border. At the first check point they told us we have to wait for the escort car to come. We said we have no time and that we have a long drive ahead of us. They let us go 10 min. later. At the second check point the commandant was not so keen on letting us go but we said again how pressed we are on time so instead of waiting he gave us one of his men for us to take with. A very young boy that I have no idea what kind of protection would he provide and against whom since the place was crawling with army. Any way as we were approaching a third check point the escort vehicle showed up. A Toyota pick up with some more young soldiers with Kalashnikovs this time. So we started following them. We lost them after 5 minutes because they were going too fast and we were not in a racing mood. So we got to the border. 2 hours later of paperwork and we were on the other side. Another hour and some on formalities again and then we were in Pakistan. We turned our watches again an hour and a half ahead and we realized that there is no way we can make it to Quetta before nightfall. So we aimed for Dalbandin almost half way there. The road there was not good. The first 100 km were more off road than on it. It was smoother to drive on the sand parallel to the road than on the road. The compass is a better instrument than a map for such things. The road got a bit better later and by 5 pm we were there. We found a hotel, something from the 60’s but at least very clean. Back to Turkish toilets again. Also time to brake in our new slipping bags. Just in case there were bed bags. I had an hour’s nap and then went to help on fixing the rack. We sent the hotel guy to find us some new screws to replace old ones and we retied everything. We had dinner delivered to our rooms (there was no dinning room anyway) It was very tasty local food. I never thought that I will find internet there but the hotelier had just gotten a connection card and was trying to connect with no succsess. I offered my help and soon had my computer logged in with his ID to prove to him that the connection was ok but his computer wasn’t. That’s how I got to update. Good thing too because at 11:30 the electricity was off so I was left with just enough time to upload some pictures but not any time to put them in any kind of order.
Woke up after 9 hours of sleep. We were tired I guess. We had our breakfast finished what we couldn’t the night before on the rack and off we were for Quetta. AND NO MORE SQUEAKING. Heaven. So we drove merely through serious desert now. With sand dunes, salt lakes and everything. The road tragic. No wonder everybody was saying we need 6 hours more for the rest 300 km there. But these roads are un drivable. Single lane and whenever somebody bullier than you came along you had to get out of the road. We didn’t feel like playing chicken all the time so we spent a lot of time on the side of the road. And as we were getting closer it was getting heavier with traffic. The tracks are out of this world. Decorated with everything you can imagine and overloaded to the max. So since it was not dark yet and we would be seeing Quetta on the way back we decided to continue as far as we could so we aimed for Sibi, the second largest city in Balochustan, after Quetta. What a mistake. The dirtiest place I’ve seen in my life. The room we got looked a lot like a prison cell. What made it much better than a cell was that the only other hotel that existed in Town had worst rooms than this one. We were starving so we went to town for some food. It stunk so much it was not even funny. We found somebody frying some weird looking things that the only one’s name that we understood was some kind of a potato. We were dreading the time to go to our cell so we lingered on in another frying stand where we had French fries and coca cola. We got to be the center of attention for everybody that was there (it was almost midnight by then so there were not that many, thank Allah). Probably we were the first Greeks there since Alexander the Great and the first tourists in a long long time. This time the sleeping bags were a must. Not even the bathroom was usable. The roach I saw trying to go at 4 for a wiwi made me shake my shoes for hours before putting them on. I just hope that the 15 cm gecko (samiamidi size of a dragon) that was on our ceiling ate it.
Woke up at 8:30 after trying to sleep above the noise of beeping cars and engine noises and by 8:45 we were out of that rat hole. Paid all the 3 euros for our room and left running. We even walked to the police headquarters to pick up our car, which was parked there for safety over night. We couldn’t wait till 9 to be picked up. We got to our car and we didn’t stop driving. We did a marathon today. Almost 16 hours non stoppable driving. Only stops for refueling, and defueling. We eat whatever we had in the car and kept on driving. (peanut butter and jelly on Afgan pita bread and lots of nuts and cashews and dry figs and such Average speed the first hours: 42 kl/h. Tragic. And the most hellish driving ever. Crazy crazy crazy crazy, mad mad mad driving. I don’t think many western drivers can get intact out of the mess we were in. V. did most of the driving (11 out of the 16 hours) but I was driving with him every second. Here and in India they drive from the other side and our car having the steering on this side (you see I didn’t say on the wrong side, just the other side) overtaking somebody it takes 2 drivers. It might even be harder on the co-driver because he has to do all the judging. How fast is the incoming traffic, how fast is the donkey/water buffalo/camel chariot going and if we have the momentum and the engine power to squeeze through. The driver just follows orders and also is watching for crossing bickers, pedestrians, donkeys, camels, water buffalos, goats. Finally what we all have to watch for are the most destructive and huge pad holes that can do some serious damage to our tires, car, axles, and bring back the squeaking . Some parts of the road were better as we were reaching the Indus river and we were making much better speed than the days before so we decided to do as much distance as we can and sure enough we added almost another 1000 km to the odometer and made it all the way to Lahore. We were going to stop at Multan, a mere 307 km before Lahore for the night and we were there by 6 as scheduled. Not wanting to spoil the momentum we had, we did the rest of the distance in 7 hours and got in to town a bit before 1 am. Huge city and 5 mil population. We were in despair. There are no signs in English so telling were you are is very hard. And somehow they don’t understand our greek here so we have to speak some English to them. (A few speak it)
Found an expensive hotel to compensate and to celebrate V’s name day and maybe we stay here 2 nights. To see Lahore a bit. Now our vacation will start. We got to India. Or at least 35 km from India.
Parked here for the day. All day we visited the city fort, the mosques that were on the map and the old city. Pictures are better words. We are taking some sun and we relax a bit. The driving from now on is not so much, although India is huge and we still have to make it to Nepal we can’t cover big distances. The traffic won’t let us. Kisses everybody.