Petrol-smugglers in Mirjaveh at a Wild West border

The next day saw us climbing out the windows- the manager was nowhere to be found and we needed to leave promptly, escorts or no escorts.  We packed the bikes using only the windows.  The manager appeared, looking alarmed.  He told us we had to wait until 9am for the escorts to appear.  We told him politely where to stick it, and zoomed off in a cloud of dust.  We’d had enough of the bloody escorts.

We reached Mirjaveh border- the last checkpoint border before Pakistan.  We had to hang around while the escorts played silly buggers. 

It did mean that we got to watch the most bizarre border crossing I have ever seen.  It was a chaotic place. Thinking about it, that’s like saying Myra Hindley was a bit of a weirdo.

Everywhere you looked there was a smuggler, running the border with his contraband in hand.  Mostly it was petrol, in big jerry cans. 

The army guards seemed to mainly look the other way as youngsters ran across the lines, sploshing petrol all over the road.  They only bothered chasing certain smugglers- I presumed it was the ones who hadn’t paid the appropriate ‘fines’. 

Some of the police looked like stereotypical Taliban, with big checkered shawls wrapped tightly round their faces, and weapons held very tightly. 

There was a whole truck of army guards, with two sorry-looking young kids in the back, handcuffed to the truck railings with a shawl.  They peeked out from under their hair and looked very concerned.  

The police were changing a tyre, which gave us ample smuggler-watching opportunity. 

One very old crumpled man just drifted across with a barrel of fuel, and got drifted more severely back again by the shoulder. 

One young scruffy-looking kid got as far as the actual border with his can before a more zealous officer chased him all the way down the scrubland into the desert, hitting him with a stick, and stabbing the petrol can with a knife so it leaked fuel all over his clothes. 

Five minutes later we watched the same fellow sneak straight back past with his can, with all the holes plugged up with plastic bags.  He didn’t even get a second glance from the officers.

There were trucks loaded with grain sacks too, that were being stabbed into with sticks to check for contraband, and pick-up trucks transporting burkha’d women like cattle in the back. 

We watched a team of people lift a telegraph wire high enough for an oil truck to fit under.

The police escorts finally changed the tyre, apparently with the help of one of the smugglers.  The worried-looking kids were deposited in another truck.  We set off.

We made it twenty minutes down the road before we were stopped again.  It was going to be another long day…

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