07/09/07-zahedan

We are leaving Kerman at 7 o’clock, preparing ourselves for the first real desert crossing.
After 2 hours we stop briefly in Bam. The city is still badly damaged by the earthquake and the traffic is completely chaotic.

As we exit the city we enter Kavir-e-Lut one of the two main deserts of Iran.
We are welcomed by a fine sand-storm with the wind blowing almost perpendicular to our direction of travel from the left so I have to lean the bike at least 15 to 20 degrees to go straight ahead. I can hear the sand hitting my helmet,it’s like siting in a sandblasting machine.

After an hour I’m beginning to worry about the storm which seems to get stronger, I see some army barracks and stop for a short break (this part of Iran doesn’t have a very good reputation).
As we drink a bit of water an army jeep comes alongside, asks for our passports, checks them, and goes back to the barracks. Just as we are ready to leave, a soldier comes and tells us to wait, we will be getting a military escort.

The escort consists of on old Paykan with 4 soldiers armed with AK47s and a machine gun. They ask us not to exceed 80km/h, and we leave. I slowly accelerate to 100 and we continue for 40km.

We stop in a parking to change escorts with the new one being also a Paykan even more beaten then the previous one. After 80km we get a new Toyota jeep that can easily do 120km/h.

The last escort is also a Toyota so everything seems to be ok, until 25km before Zahedan. The soldiers signal us to stop in a parking, and they tell that they don’t have anymore petrol.
We must wait for a another car that will arrive in 5 minutes.

In the meantime they are stopping passing cars and ask for gasoline 🙂

25 minutes have passed, I ask what is happening: 5 more minutes they say (they don’t speak any english, we are communicating in sign language).

They stop another car to ask for gas, the driver gives them a couple of liters and stops to watch us. He talks to the soldiers gives them some fizzy drinks, and gives some hashish to the officer. He also rolls a joint for himself.

45 minutes have passed, all the soldiers are quite relaxed by now and the friendly drug dealer is still here. I’m beginning to have a strange feeling.

I decide to make a little test, I tell Ioana to get on the bike and I go to the officer and start to yell (in romanian) that we cannot wait anymore and we have to leave.

In the meantime I get my helmet and mount the bike. One of the soldiers gets in front of the bike and signals me to stop. I look at the officer, he seems totally relaxed.
I start the engine and accelerate hard. The soldier gets out of my way as we exit the parking. That’s the last that we saw of our escorts 🙂

After a bad hotel in Zahedan, two hours at the border, we are in Taftan (humorously described as “hell on earth” by Lonely Planet), and ready to leave for Danblandin, some 300km into the desert.
The road is good (apart for some sand blown over the road), traffic is almost non-existent but the heat is on.
4 hours and 6 liters of water later we are in Danblandin in a shitty hotel with no water and no electricity. It doesn’t matter, we only want to sleep.
The night passes quickly, and we are up for the last leg: Danblandin- Quetta 350km.
This time the road is bad, a narrow lane of pothole filled tarmac that can only accommodate one truck. When you meet a lorry coming from the opposite direction you have to stop and let it pass. When you want to overtake a bus or truck, you have to get off the asphalt and on the gravel shoulder and pass.
It takes us 5 hours to reach Quetta. We celebrate the crossing of Baluchistan with an illegal pakistani beer (the first one since Urfa in Turkey)

baluchi children road from taftan to danbladin taftan2.jpg

taftan3.jpg taftan4.jpg taftan5.jpg

danbaldin11.jpg quetta1.jpg