Explorer Mikael Strandberg

Drama in Baluchistan

I was more scared than ever in my life.
People outside the walls where shouting in anger:
“Open the doors! let us have him!”
I went down on my knees and begged the levies (tribal police in Baluchistan):
“Please don´t open the doors.”
I felt a huge amount of uncontrollable fear and panic. It was getting dark outside and I knew if they opened the door, I would suffer from something not good. Maybe even death. I was in a small village on the road in between Quetta and the Iranian border town Mirjaveh. The year was 1995 and I was cycling from New Zealand to Cairo. I had already done Chile to Alaska, Norway to South Africa and I had told myself, after this trip I will get even more into trying to understand humankind. Living closely with them. Travelling in a more demanding way then cycling. But standing there on my knees, my brain was occupied by fear.
“We have to open the door. You can´t stay here.” , one of the levies said and started to pull away the wooden block holding both doors tight.
I had done a mistake earlier in the evening. Normally I cycled just until an hour before darkness, avoiding villages or people, and then suddenly just moving off the rode and pitch the tent somewhere in the darkness behind somethingsafe like a rock or similair. So I planned my cycling so if there were villages, I would pass them before that specific hour. This time the map was wrong, so instead ended up in a typical village along this tough road. I had spent a lot of the time dogding dogs, stone throwing youngsters and what was possible kidnapping attemps. Armed locals running like athletes to catch up with me. The reputation in those days, included possible kidnapping for ransome money.
“Don´t open it!” I shouted in great fear, but I slowly saw the gates open.
I saw people yelling and laughing outside waiting for me. It must have been pure survival instinct. I quickly took off my big tripod and when the door was open enough for me to push the bike out, I pushed just outside, dropped it, took the tripod and used it against the people who tried to grab me. I managed to get enough space between them and me, to get the bike up an dstarted pushing it towards the main road. This strecth oddly enough paved. I knew, if I got on to the main road before they could grab me, I would be off like a rocket down the road into safety.
But getting there was not easy. Since it was almost pitch dark, I didn´t see much and the road felt like a dry river bed. After awhile, no idea how long, they almost caught me, but I did the tripod attack again. Got back to the bike, pushed it really hard and I could briefly see the main road and just as I was ready to push my bike up there and cycle into safety, I hit a pot hole and my front handel bar bag fell off. that is where I had all my valuablesplus the Hi-8 camera.
I stopped in fear. The crowd came running towards me, rifle´s in air, many laughing, some looked determined and somewhat upset. I took the the tripod again and in pure madness managed to get them far enough from me, so I could get back to the bike, get it up on the road and just as they tried to grab me, I cycled off full speed.
I don´t know how far I cycled before I stopped. Maybe just a few hundred meters. My legs where shaking. I stod there in the darkness for some time. I put on my head torch and suddenly I saw somebody coming towards me on the road, maybe 15 meters away, running towards me with a rifle in hand and I just felt:
“I have had enough of this! I am going to cycle like mad and run over the bastard!”
I jumped up on the bike, cycled in pure anger towards this fella who just as I was on the way to run him over, very agile, jumped backwards, so I just missed him, but I could almost feel his breath. And then I heard him screaming loud after me:
“I love you!”
I didn´t stop until an hour later. Exhausted. I saw some high bushes next to the road, and figured that would do as a night camp. I went down a steep gravel side, resembling a glacier moraine. Just as I started pitching my tent, I saw lights for off down the road. Two lorries. I switched the headlamp off and waited. There was no way they could see me. Even though there was a half moon. They slowly meandered along the curvy road and just as they were about to pass the spot I was sitting, they stopped. I was caught with great fear again. One driver stepped out. Looked out over where I was sitting, hidden by bushes and the dark, like he was trying to spot me. Then, he took out his penis and started to piss. Shook it off and returned into the lorry.
PS. None of the people in the photos had anything to do with this story, but treated me great. DS

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