Pain and reconsideration … these are the feelings that have been impressed upon my mind while crossing through Pakistan! After entering Taftan, I had to wait one night before leaving with the escort the following day. It begins to get very hot and towards the middle hours of the day it becomes unbearable. Because of the reduced speed during our movements, I feel like I’m being cooked on a grill.
I spend my first night in prison, that is, inside a police station and at first jokingly, I think “I bet there are also prisoners in here?” And in fact, there are some people in a couple of the cells lying on the ground with a kind of basin near them; I do not even want to imagine what they could be used for. Instead I was given an empty room but luckily with carpets on the ground and a fan on the ceiling, I go out to seek a bathroom, there are no words to describe the state of degradation and hygiene so I’ll just let you imagine it. The night was long, very long, and amidst the silence I even heard gunshots in the distance.
We arrived in Quetta in time to witness the beginning of the EID festival, the 4-day celebration to mark the end of Ramadan; as a result, the offices where I had to retrieve the document that would allow me leave Baluchistan are closed so I am forced to make a stopover. To make matters worse I am also experiencing some physical problems that I’m having difficulty overcoming.
From Quetta towards Sukkar the heat reaches 53°, the sun beats without respite. On arrival in Sukkur the escort leaves me and I need to look for accommodation, I then stop a policeman and ask for help. He takes me to a hotel that unfortunately is already full. I am so exhausted that the manager offers me his room, later he asks me to pay $140 for a room and calling it squalid is an absolute compliment. At that moment, amid physical suffering and anger about the incident, I have an intense feeling of rage towards Pakistan and the treatment I am receiving. I look for some local people to resolve the problem and to my amazement a Pakistani motorcyclist introduces me to some of his friends who, in addition to solving the hotel issue, want to host me and offer dinner at all costs. I’m too exhausted to move so we say goodbye with a hug and I fall asleep in the hovel.
Fortunately, the last part of the journey (at least until my arrival at the border) improves, from Sukkar to Multan where (Mr Iqbal) the motorcyclist who helped me lives. His hospitality was great and after a refreshing natural Mango juice, he takes me to a hotel that even has a safe place for me to leave the bike.
He then accompanies me to visit Multan and its interesting historical and cultural points, here I see the building that dominates the city and we wander through the alleys of the vast market even though it is closed because of the festivities. The following morning I leave for the final leg of my Pakistan journey, Lahore!
Here the last big reception starts with the police who, upon seeing me, escort me to Mr. Hafiz, the latter is an acquaintance of Mr Iqbal who is kindly at my disposal for assistance, I wait for him to accompany me to a mechanic so I can change the motorcycle oil and air filter, then we reach the workshop where, after finishing the maintenance, they did not want even a single dollar from me, except for a couple of selfies.
Ultimately, I end up at the home of Mr Hafiz’s motorcyclist friends and I am literally welcomed as part of their family, we start to dine and finally I eat a nice plate of Pakistani spaghetti while drinking a refreshing cold beer … they are fantastic!! Mr Hafiz greets me and accompanies me back to the hotel where for the umpteenth time I am not allowed to even pay for the accommodation, “you are our guest” Mr Hafiz explains to me, “for us hospitality is sacred”.
I go to sleep with many feelings inside me but, as I stated before, the two main feelings that prevail will always be pain and reconsideration. Reconsideration towards a people that make hospitality an almost sacred way of welcoming an unknown person even hosting them in their own home; suffering instead for the physical problems and lack of freedom, having to be escorted all the way. In any case, the memory of Pakistan will remain imprinted on me especially the marvellous people. I’m sorry to not have had enough time to visit the north with its wonderful scenery of crystal clear lakes, snow-capped mountains and beautiful views.
The last day spent here has made me leave the ugly vicissitudes experienced behind me; they will not erase the beautiful memory that I will take with me of the hospitality received.
Unfortunately, I only managed to snap a few photos and was able to record just a few “stolen” videos… tomorrow we enter India.