Escape from Daliban
15th February - Dalbandin to Padag - distance - ascent 180m - av speed - current position 28,37N 65,07E
After a dusty night in our secure customs house we were eager to get back on the road. We hadn't slept well disturbed by howling dogs, rutting donkeys and a night watchman that shone his torch in our faces every hour. We were about to depart but our anxious escort held us back due to a demonstration on the street outside. It soon materialised that the locals were protesting about the lack of water. This south western corner of Pakistan ( Baluchistan ) appears relatively forgotten by the government. The towns do not have mains electricity or water hence the aggravated mood of the locals. We delayed our departure by a couple of hours warned that it was too dangerous to venture onto the main street. Nic in his role as chief coach quickly organised a much needed team cricket practice. When we eventually set off it was only to travel about four hundred metres before finding our way blocked by burning tyres across the road and a rather excited crowd. They surged towards us waving their arms frantically. In hindsight we decided that they were probably being friendly but by then we were back in our compound having another brew. Then we realised we had forgotten Dickie, left in the heat of the action amid parched protestors with a van roof loaded with mineral water. Another hour and we were off this time taking no risks and circumventing the town on the bypass. Urdu for bypass by the way appears to be the same as in Persian – wait for it …… ‘ring road'!
It was probably our hottest day yet but we made quick time into yet another headwind. With every km the scenery became progressively more stunning. If we thought we had been through deserts already we were sadly mistaken. Rolling golden sand dunes provided for a spectacular back drop and camels sauntered by at regular intervals. The road narrowed to a single track and in places even this had been encroached on by drifting sand. We made our breaks short as there was little respite from the hot sun. At one tiny village Pauline leant her services to the locals helping to draw up water from their 50m deep well. Then much to Jamie's delight he was accosted by a man claiming to be the Pakistani football captain. We decided he was likely to be the first of many, similar to the numerous Iranian cycling champions we have met en route! Nevertheless they seemed happy entertaining each other for a few minutes while we ate Pauline's homemade Jammy Dodgers.
Dickie and Ro cycled with us all day alternating legs every 20km. The mountain draws closer everyday and as they are both aiming for the North Col they are keen to fine tune their endurance ready for the big push. After our late start a late finish was inevitable but we also managed some late afternoon footage of camel trains crossing the main road. We are now safely harboured in a Border Guards camp of commandos in a tiny desert outpost. Home for the night is a disused garage with a concrete floor. As I write Sarah is knocking up a crumble and Ro and Pauline a special risotto with a certain ‘je ne sais quoi'. I don't know what that means Sarah has just asked…….