Another fort, Mr Magoo and Raj's Revenge part ii

Trip Start Feb 29, 2004
Trip End Apr 12, 2005

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Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Ahhh, another fort, fantastic! Though it's easy to get 'forted out' in India (especially in Rajasthan), this one is quite impressive, as it's still functioning and one of the busiest parts of the city, with temples, residences, shops, and loads of hotels and restaurants all packed inside the huge walls. It's definitely in the touristy category, but beautiful nonetheless.

We shopped around for a good camel safari company (as you do in Jaisalmer) and suddenly we were off at 6.30 in the morning in a jeep for an hour's drive to meet our camels. We were with a good group, with people from Oz, Germany and the US, but it turned out that they had all signed up for the 2-day, 1-night trip, while Georgia and I were gluttons for punishment and had opted for one extra night and day.

I was matched with a lovely, tall camel called Mr Magoo. I have a feeling that if I were, say, French, his name would probably have been different (Jerry Lewis?), but he was a real sweetie, very calm, and seemed to be a few sandwiches short of a picnic--a true blonde!

We were fairly well suited for each other actually, both of us being prone to distraction and daydreaming, though while I could just let my mind wander while swaying lazily in the saddle and gazing off into the desert-y scrub, he would start walking more and more slowly, looking off to one side, and eventually forget he was supposed to be going forward. Whenever he heard a strange noise (cars, other animals, or Indian army tanks--we saw and ate the dust of 4 or 5!), he'd swing his head around in a confused daze, his bottom lip flapping nervously up and down and his big brown eyes looking highly confused. Poor dear. If he accidently got out in front of the group and had to lead, the lip went double time, the steps faltered, and he invariable started to veer to the right. Must have needed his feet balanced and rotated or something.

Sleeping out in the desert (more of an arid, scrub brush type of desert) on the dunes under a clear canopy of stars both nights was truly special, as was sitting around the fire, listening to the camel guys talking and laughing and singing. I unfortunately had a pretty wicked second bout of Raj's Revenge starting the night before we set off (oh, the timing!!), so my digestive tract wasn't up to eating much food on the trip, but they served up some authentic dahl, potatoes and rice for lunch and dinner, and eggs, toast and as much chai or coffee as you could drink every morning. Jack-of-all-trades kind of guys, and all good guys.

We went past several villages and houses and stopped at a few, though the human zoo/asking for money thing was an issue sometimes. In the last village we went through we were practically mobbed by a group of kids. In one of the very few casualties on this 9-month+ trip, my precious hair clip (don't laugh--you'd be surprised at how difficult it is to find just the right one!) was snatched off my backpack in the frenzy. But to offset it, in a village on the first day I was taken by the hand and pulled into a very tidy, painted mud hut to peer through the smoky darkness into the shining eyes of a little baby engulfed in a big, woolen blanket--awwwwwww! And then promptly had sparkley, puke green fingernail polish painted onto the nails of one hand. Welcome to Rajasthan!

After the first 2 days of getting used to the feel of the saddle and the ways of the camels and and the land (a bit at least), we were fairly sad to stop after the 3rd day, especially as we spent the last night with our two camel guys in a very quiet, beautiful dune area and were visted a couple of times by some genuinely nice, intelligent kids from a farm on the opposite side of the hill. Georgia's baloons went down a treat and we learned a fascinating Indian Side Mouth Inflation Technique.

So it was really a magical experience--maybe a week or more long camel trip is in the future sometime, somewhere...In the meantime, Mr Magoo, hope you're well and still daydreaming!

In the trip planning department, am trying to meet up with one of my best friends from Budapest, Csaba, who's working in India temporarily, but he's just gone from the north to the middle of the subcontinent somewhere, so this could be interesting...

In the meantime, Georgia and I set off to the south to Udaipur, a city legendary for its lovely lakes and palace.
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