The underground wedding reception hall was pitch black as I opened my eyes and lifted my head. I gathered my belongings and followed Dan (my new travel companion; a Kiwi who had just spent six months cycling the silk road through Central Asia) into the breaking day. It was 0600. We would begin our journey to Quetta, the capital of Balouchistan.
We had been put up by a couchsurfing host the previous night. It was a great way to enjoy a final cultural exchange in Iran and to avoid arousing the curiosity of the border town police.
We taxied to the Pakistan border-bound savari (shared taxi) stand. Our new driver knew the drill. He roped my pack to the top and shoved Dan’s bag in the trunk. It was 96 km to the border. Within only twenty kilometres the prevailing patience that we would require for the duration of our journey was first tested. We exited the cab and followed an Iranian checkpost policeman, currently holding our passports hostage, to a nearby trailer. He told us to wait outside the closed door. It felt a stark contrast to the local hospitality I had to come expect while traveling Iran. The persistent dichotomy was personaified. In his uniform, this man was of The State and not The People. Minutes later another man emerged and surrendered our passports. We were back on the road.
We unloaded at the border and paid our fare. There was a decent line up waiting to exit Iran – all men. We joined them, but were soon ushered through a vacant immigration station. I paused at the TV screen showing regional news in the waiting room. No reports of violence overnight in Pakistan.