It was a full 9 hour day to travel the final 50 KM of Iran. It started in the morning at the hotel reception asking for our passports. It seems during the night the hotel had called in the troops of our position and at 7am the police were waiting. Police held onto our passports ensuring we travel with them to the Pakistan border. An untold number of checkpoints made travel very slow.The Pakistan border post is Taftan, in the province of Balochistan.
The ongoing conflict and attacks by sectarian groups in Balochistan put any hopes of security escorts ending when in Pakistan. A warm " Welcome to Pakistan !! " as I road across the border by police was comforting. Like many border towns Taftan is no different, dirty, dusty, money changers, etc. .. keep on riding if possible... It was already to late in the day for police to arrange escorts, but they did give up some floor space in their compound. It's also shared with prisoners and pilgrims .
Bomb attacks on pilgrims were of a concern in the area, and with two large pilgrim bus's parked outside the police compound,
Invited to spend the night at the home of a friends contact, I was given some in site to the culture. The Government of Pakistan and the police had taken responsibility for my safety and were not about to release me into the hands of someone else for an evening . Police preferred a safe hotel with security , and to escort us if we wanted to go out for food. We met out host who invited us to stay at his home in a parking lot with our police escorts. The parking lot is where a poker game started between our host and the police.. Who would win the right to take care of the American, English and German !
There were a number of phone calls to who's who in Pakistan . We went from staying at our hosts home, to some big developers place. The police went from local authority to provincial and political authority. At one point the police had claimed victory and we were on our way to a hotel for the night. 30 miles down the road their cell phone rang and we changed course again to a private home. Our original host was not a strong enough figure in the community to stay at his home, but he was not about to be shamed by the police and started calling his friends to one better the police. The struggle ended with a full police envoy pulled up in front of a prominent doctors home. I was greeted first by a senior intelligence officer who took our passports and then introduced me to Dr Khurram. Only minutes earlier the Dr said bring us to his house, he was inviting us for the evening. The police had agreed to let us stay unescorted until 7am the next morning.
Its Ramadan and everyone fasts until sunset. At sunset Dr Khurram fed 20 or more police men and officials in his garden, and invited us inside to feast on local food and drinks.
The doctor seemed to take some pride as he smiled and asked me : " What do you think about our excellent security ? "