The Taliban friendly Quetta

Ok, I’m not going to write much as I’m knackered.

With Lisa and the guys still in the land of nod, I rolled out of my sleeping bag and the tent with my camera at 5:00am wanting to see my first Pakistani sun rise and hopefully capture a few candid portraits. Over in the restaurant the cook from last night was keen to pose for a few photos as he stirred another monstrous pot of some boiling liquid. The bright light streaming through the dirty window was caught in the smoke lifting from the fire. I was desperate to try and capture it but haven’t yet managed to check the photos from today.

Out of the back I was led to the chapatti making room where a young man pounded and kneaded dough before skillfully spinning it high into the air, the centrifugal forces shaping the circular chapatti, much like the pizza guys in the fancier pizzerias. The young boy sitting crossed legged the floor and staring at me intensely caught my attention and I snapped half a dozen photos before he moved and changed his ‘half-light’ pose. I’ll post the portrait with this report.

I was now on a roll as I clicked the camera lens hundreds of times. Every so often the fat cook would pull my shirt sleeve and enthusiastically demand that I take another photo of a family member, friend or guest. By the time I was done I’d shot 237 photos.

Back at the camp Lisa had broken down the tent and we were ready for the off.

Much like yesterday we changed escorts more than a few times and finally arrived in Quetta in the dark. We’ve not ridden in city pollution like this since Bamako in Mali. With our dark visors still on the four of us had no choice but to ride with our visors open. The acrid dust filled air stung and choked our eyes. We’d waived to our armed escorts a few times to pull over, allowing us to take a breather as we swapped visors, but that clearly wasn’t going to happen. We’d all notice a distinct shift in our escorts body language and newfound intensity. Their automatic rifles that had lain across their legs most of the day were being waived from the back of the 4X4, the action finger placed alongside the triggers. Their earlier smiles had been replaced with fierce scowls. Quetta is known to be Taliban friendly and at least 3 Taliban warlords are known to live within the city. We make for a big target! The local know it, the soldiers know it and…we know it!

By the time we reached the hotel we’d GPS’d this morning our noses were full of black shit and our tired eyes were red sore. About an hour later and we’d checked out the rooms and decided to put up the tents in the grassy courtyard in the middle of the hotel. The hotel is an oasis. The staff seem friendly and the large broken-glassed topped high wall adds to that much need feeling of security.

We’ve been firmly told not to leave the confines of the hotel until our escort arrives tomorrow morning.

OK, that’s it; I’m not writing any more, I’m just too tired.

Dec 16, 2009
Updated: July 25, 2014