Zahedan to Pakistan

A week doesn't sound a long time till you have nothing to do, then it really drags. I got the crew to give the bus a really good clean as it was not the best. Next we set about entertainment, a committee was formed to plan the weeks social events. Cooks were sent to scour the town to see what delights we could find, if we were going to be here for a while, we might as well eat well. In no time full grown men had resorted to filling a tent fly sheet with water so they could build and sail toy boats. Competition was stiff to see who could build the first self propelled boat.

The girls wanted an oven so they could bake cakes and as I have a soft spot for cake, I set about building one from a petrol stove under an old flour tin surrounded by bricks. The first attempts were a bit ordinary but with a bit of practice, we had scones for morning tea and apple tea cake with lunch.

Little thing please little minds

We met some Australians in town they were working at the airport installing flight control equipment for the Iranian government. They were keen to get everyone out to a hotel near the airport, as they had seen very little in the way of women since they arrived. We had a great night, lots to drink and eat and the walk home seemed shorter on the way back.

It turned out there were other Westerners working in town, some Italians but they were a bit quiet as two of their colleagues had been missing for about a month before their bodies were found still inside the jeep that had been caught in a flash flood and rolled many hundreds of meters down a dry river bed. You don't think of rain as a problem here but the land is very flat and rain hundreds of kilometers away can race across the desert and turn dry river beds into torrents in a few seconds. The two Italian surveyors were caught unaware and their jeep just looked like a ball of mud until someone noticed a piece of metal sticking out.

Our camp Oven

Forgetful Fred the race bookie taking bets at the Zahedan Cup which was followed by a fashion parade. - Our resident hair dresser doing her best to tidy up the crew.

Eight days had passed and still no spare parts, Fred went into town to contact Norm again and see what was happening. The parts had left the day after we ordered them but they had been off loaded in Tehran and Norm had been trying to get them moving again for 4 days. The plane didn't come in every day so we had to wait another day to see if they were finally here.

We were lazing around in camp when we heard the plane coming into land. By now we had a cab at the gate nearly all day, as people were always coming and going. Fred and I jumped the cab and raced of to the airport, we had the waybill for the parts which had arrived by post 3 days ago, so if they were there it should be easy to get them. Famous last words. We could see into the customs shed and when they wheeled in a large wooden crate we both said that's them. The custom official looked at our paperwork which I am sure he couldn't read and shook his head. They started to talk import duty in hundreds of US$ which we didn't have. Then we were told to go away and come back tomorrow.

Next morning we arrived early with a young student who we hoped could help translate. They still wanted duty and needed to record the parts in our passport, so we had to export the old parts as if they were going to be of any use to anyone in Iran.

Waiting for spare parts

The day dragged on and we were getting the duty price down, but it was like pulling teeth. Finally they wanted to open the box and check the contents. Then something unusual happened. The box had been pack by Gordon the electrician and as he was a bit of a porno fan, he had put a few girly magazines in as packing. As soon as the officials spotted the magazines they had to confiscate them and in two minutes flat we found ourselves outside along with our crate and not a bit of import duty in sight. Getting a 150kg crate containing a crankshaft into the back seat of a taxi is not easy, but we wanted out of there before they changed their minds. We sped off down the highway with both rear doors open as the box was too long and Fred and I in the front passenger seat.

We arrived back to big cheers which faded soon when they realised that it may take two or three days to get us going again. Fred and I set about to repair the engine. First task was to wash all the parts that had been laying about in the sand for over a week. Now the job of hand fitting all the bearings by installing them, checking for high spots, then remove and scrap away the white metal, then try again. This goes on for hours until the bearings are a neat fit on the crankshaft and everything turns easily. Finally refit the sump fill with oil and test. She starts first try and oil pressure is excellent, a test run proves she is ready for action. We returned and changed the oil again in case there was any sand still inside the engine. A repair job on the manifold gaskets which I think let the dust in originally and I'm confident we can get going in the morning. Our last night is a bit quiet, we will be sad to leave as the town is very familiar and the food has been much better than on the road, back to petrol porridge tomorrow.

Last minute visit to the bazaar to stock up on food, we found a shop that sells Danish cheese and everyone wants some so we clean out their supplies. Large block of ice, fresh bread, more beer, big slab of dates then we are off to the border.

We have not got far out of town before the road deteriorates to a severely rutted goat track. The border post is about 60 kms away and this would be the worst road we have been on. Every meter there is a rut in the road about 10cm high, driving over them even at 20 miles an hour shakes the bus so violently, that its a wonder it stays together. After nearly 3 hours we finally arrive at the border which is a small collection of mud huts around a central court yard. The bus is directed into the yard and we are asked to bring our luggage into one of the huts for checking. A large Iranian man in military uniform escorts us outside to show us a wall mark with bullet holes and has much delight in telling us this was where they shot two Germans,who arrived from Pakistan, with drugs hidden in their car. To drive home his point we are shown the car, an old Mercedes that was ripped apart during the search. While they interview each passenger lunch is made and we feed the guards Danish cheese sandwiches hoping it will speed things up. The men get a 30 second interview but each girl is in the office for at least 10 minutes. One guard offers money if we will leave Sarah behind, I wonder if he knows he would be getting two for the price of one?

Finally we are free to go but unlike most border crossings, the Pakistan side of the border is 90kms away over an even worse road than before.

The trip continued Map of trip so far
An overland journey to India following the India overland trail through Belgium, Germany, Austria Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, & Nepal. Visting sites of Dubrovnic, Split, Kotor, Athens, Kerimoti, Istanbul, Galipolli, Troy, Delphi, Efes, Goreme, Nemrut, Tehran, Esphan, Persepolis, Shiraz, Kerman, Bam, Quetta, Kandahar, Kabul, Bamian Valley, Kyhber Pass, Indus river, Lahore, Punjab, Amritsar, Kashmir, Delhi, Agra, Taj Mahal, Vanaris, Patna, Raj Path, Kathmandu, Himalyas. All this undertaken in a 20 year old Asian Greyhound, Swagman Tours, LS Bristol bus. This Indiaoverland company was held together by Norm Harris an expatriate Aussie living in Windsor. With drivers like Bob Ashford, Geoff Lawrence, Clive Parker, Dave Watt, Ronnie Martin, John Witchard, Ken Mcdonald, Derek Amey & couriers Fred Fisher, Jos Livingstone, Peter Swift, Kieren Smith & mechanics Gordon Hammond, Graham Libby, Pomme John & Rastas just to name a few.