Dromedary dreams.

Trip Start Jul 19, 2011
Trip End Aug 17, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hotel Haveli

Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Thar desert temperatures were not sitting well with us and booking into our air conditioned room was like being given a release from the prison of our overheated bodies. With the help from a modern day gadget, our body temperatures got down to a more familiar level and we could therefore think about heading desert bound and embarking on a camel safari. Our hotel offered a pleasing adventure where by we would be riding the camels in the cool of the later afternoon and in the morning. The riding book-ended a night in the desert under the stars alongside the camels, a cameleering we shall go!
We had the following morning to explore the ancient town of Jaislamer which uniquely had a fort which was still in use. We have visited many an empty fort in Rajasthan, most certainly all impressive examples of Indian's ancient heritage. However it was a welcome sight to visit a living, breathing fort which had a place in the lives of the local people. Imagine growing up within a  fort! It is one of the largest forts in the world and it's imposing sandstone walls sit proud, contently protecting a place it has successfully defended for 855 years. As you enter the fort you walk up a wide meandering steep cobbled path way that leads you to a small square from which you can peal off to investigate the lanes. The architecture is stunning with most of the building decorated with ornate sandstone carvings with some of the larger havelis (houses) being built by wealthy merchants. 
As we walked around ignoring many of the calls to purchase stuff we really didn't need (a large camel statue?) an enigmatic lady caught us and brought us into her shop. What unfolded was an inspiring talk with a lady who works with local women selling wall hangings that they make. I have already touched on some of the ways in which women are treated in the is part of India and it makes me feel privileged that I have by chance been born where I have. The charity 'Wells for India' had an article which verbalise better than I could the desperate situation these women face. It is well worth a read, just click on the following link   http://www.wellsforindia.org/pdf/empowerment.pdf. Therefore to meet a women in this parts of Rajasthan  like 'Bobby' who has a degree, is fluent in English and is working hard to improve lives of women in her community is truly remarkable. The cloth work she was selling was beautiful with some pieces taking 6 months to hand stitch. As we listened to her talk they became more than just wall hangings, they symbolised the start of a women somewhere feeling empowered and valued.
The cameling hour had become us and we were dressed in our finest camel riding outfits (mainly consisting of variety of items retailing at 100Rupees each) and headed desert bound in a rickety jeep with 6 other adventures to meet our trusty steads. We stopped at the side of the road, disembarked and were ushered by the camel men to a variety of saddled up humped mounts. We were going to be together for a while trusting this animal with our lives in the desert so we had to pick wisely. Therefore just choosing the one nearest to you seemed like a good bet. On we got, or more like on we tried to straddle, and then we were up. Rachel was behind me and I heard her say something but I couldn't catch what she said as my camel was off, crikey! It later transpired that in the act of the mounting straddle her 100 Rupee trousers had found this all to much and had ripped. I on the other hand had a bright blue top which bought to offer me protection from the sun, That it did, but it also managed to turn my whole entire upper body blue from the cheap dye. Put a white beard on me and I would have been Papa Smurf the cameleer! 
We rode our camel for about 2 hours and it was brilliant. My camel was called Raja and Rachel's was called Lucky, it had a very cute face but was a reluctant trotter! Raja was superb as he was an older camel that knew they way so the men just let him go and we went! The scenery was amazing in that sparse way that only a desert can be and our camels were sure footed and took great care of their novice riders. We stopped by some sand dunes, dismounted and had our camels taken away for their evening's food and entertainment. We busily took photos and waited for our desert dinner to be cooked. Our beds for the night were blankets and in the dark we managed to steal the camel's saddle cloths as pillows. So with this arrangement Rachel and I settled down for an evening under the stars gently being lulled by the sweet smell of camel sweat. We chatted, laughed and eventually nodded off under the stars with the desert breeze cooling us down.Until,  "Aaaaaarrrgh, something was on me!!!!!" I have never seen Rachel move so fast and rightly so. Something that was, I am told, as heavy as a mouse but most certainly not a mouse, ran over her leg. In my sleepy foolishness I dismissed it but as we nodded off again I too woke us up as I had felt something very very prickly against my back. Scorpion was my only answer. Great, we are in the desert with no access to light, a secure sleeping bag or out creepy crawlies reference book so we were rather alarmed at this point. Rachel had very sensibly packed her sleeping bag liner so cocooned herself very tightly in it and held the opening shut in a vice like grip. No b****er was getting in there!! To make myself feel better and get back to sleep I create a soothing chant of 'at least it wasn't a snake, at least it wasn't a snake'.
Morning came without any further intruders and we were some what relieved to have daylight on our side. We were made cups of chai and had eggs on toast for breakfast, not bad for the desert we thought. Our darling dromedary's came trotting back from their place of rest, were saddled up and off we went for the last part. The camel men got them to trot for us so we managed to get some speed up. They were surprisingly comfortable, more so than sitting trot on a horse I thought.We got back to the jeep and our brief time as camel riders was over. We said goodbye to the camel, thanked the men for their hospitality and headed back to the hotel to change and de-sand our bodies but in my case try to scrub blue dye off. I know I won't be coming back with a tan but being blue?! 
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Elaine1709 on

Brilliant, Mama Smurf, The camels look cool. x

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