Sleeping under the stars

Trip Start Nov 01, 2006
Trip End Oct 31, 2007

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Flag of India  ,
Saturday, November 25, 2006

Our second day in Jaisalmer we went on a camel trek, setting off at 1-ish and getting back the next day at midday. The main draw of the camel trek was the opportunity to spend a night sleeping out in the desert under the stars, but more about that in a bit. First of all we met our fellow trekkers, who were lovely. There was an American couple, Brandy and Kevin, who were great fun, but in an easy, quiet way. And there was also an English couple, Laura and Greg, who were almost at the end of a year-long trip, where they had taken in most of the countries we intend to, but the other way round, starting in South America. It was really great to meet them and to hear their stories and get some advice about countries we are going to. And to see that they still seemed really happy and smiley even after nearly a year away from home.

We were taken in a jeep to some interesting Jain temples first, and then on quite a long drive to meet our camels. When you first get on a camel it's quite an unnerving sensation because they are really quite high up and they lope around, especially when they first stand up after you've got on. But once you've got used to the feeling, and relax a bit, it's fine. Not exactly comfortable, but a great experience. The only other time I have been on a camel, in Egypt, the animals were left much more to do what they wanted, and hence they got up quite a pace, but this time they were all led and didn't get beyond walking pace. That was OK but it felt there was no danger, so it meant that it wasn't very exciting either. Still, we were on camel-back in the Thar desert, so mustn't complain!

After about an hour and a half, we got to our camp spot, and met another couple there who were also spending the night with us. We sat on a sand-dune and watched a beautiful sunset, whilst our 'camel-men' (as they called themselves) made our dinner. What a life! Dinner was surprisingly nice considering it was made on a fire on the sand - rice, daal, cabbage and cauliflower curry and chapatis, and loads of it. Then after dinner was the best part of the evening, where we sat around a camp fire in the (surprisingly) cold darkness, with blankets wrapped round us, singing songs and playing silly games (like putting a water bottle on the ground, standing in front of it with one leg held off the ground crossed in front of the other, and bending at the knee far enough to touch the bottle top with one's nose). As I said, the games were silly, but we had such fun, and with not a drop of alcohol! Then it was time for bed and one of the most uncomfortable nights I have ever had. The desert really gets cold at night! And we only had a fairly thin mattress (more like a thick duvet than a mattress) between the sand and us. But it feels great that I have slept under the stars in the desert, and the stars were really amazing so the discomfort was worth it. (R)
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