Sunday, 25 January 2009

Camels and Madame Butterflys

Yesterday we had an amazing day in the desert, or as our American travel companions Mary and Daniel would say, we had an awesome day.

Charles had met them the previous night in the roof top bar of the main hotel. They are born again Americans, ie. since November the 4th they are no longer embarrased to tell people where they are from. No more lying to people that they're Canadian.

We had booked our camel trek with the people from the hotel. It had been recommended in our Rough Guide, and although it was more expensive than some others we saw advertised it seemed to go more off the beaten track.

We also wanted to make sure that the place was reputable in regards to the way they treat their animals, and the way they visit the small villages.

Early start. 8am. I had managed an omelete for breakfast, and was ready to go on the camel. I just didnt realise how tall they were and how quickly they moved. So I had a little performance that made the rest of the group aware that they needed to be careful.

Charles had warned me that travelling by camel was anything but comfy...after 15 minutes on the camel I had had enough. I had crushed the nuts so badly you could have made nutella with the leftovers. But we carried on.

It was a really cold misty morning as we entered the desert. Initially we stopped in the cenotaph for the local royal family. I still have not worked out how many they have. There seems to be so many of them, one per town almost. As we rode further into the desert we saw in the distance one of the several windfarms that have been built in the area. After a further 30 minutes on the camels (and having lost the ability to have children) we found ourselves riding in the middle of this very large windfarm.

It was all very eerie. The mist, the low frequency humming, the goats and sheep.

It was more Don Quixote than the Lawrence of Arabia day out I expected. I had pictured myself galloping across the dunes in the desert and there I was struggling to keep myself on top of a camel held by the guide.

To make matters worse the camels are on heat, and kept making funny noises and salivating. And to do that half of their mouth comes off, like a bag of skin. Just gross...oh and Mary's camel had a wind problem. The guides swapped turns to go behind her camel. I thought they were going to put her last, shunned to the back in the Thar Desert, but there was some problem with camel hierarchy and the mating season.

Around midday we stopped for lunch, and as we settled in a scrubby bit of flat land the sun broke through the mist and the skies turned an intense clear blue. The three guys that were with us cooked a beautiful vegeterian lunch. They set a little fire with scrubs, got a couple of pots out and made us a delicious curry, then and there. So for a change we stuffed our faces, especially me. They had only brought three spoons so I had to eat with my fingers and the help of the chapaties, very ethnic.

So off we went. Charles and I swapped camels and somehow the journey was so much better, still not Lawrence of Arabia, but no longer able to sing Madame Butterfly. We stopped in a nice Jaen temple and then a desert village. I made a note to myself to research into this off shoot of hinduism called Jaen.

Eventually we got to the dunes, just in time for the sunset, and what a sunset!! The whole setting was unbelievable, just what I had always imagined for a desert sunset, with such a clear sky. After a bit of jumping around in the sand we took some pics and then finally went for dinner under the most amazing star filled sky. Magical.

I would really recommend the whole day to anyone. Make sure that you do a whole day, and that you use a reputable agency, either here or anywhere. Animal mistreatment is rife across a lot of countries. The only thing i did not like was the visit to the desert village, as I personally thought it was very invasive. But the two guides that came from the village into the dunes were great, non-stop talkers that really wanted to know everything about us, and tell us about their lives.

I love my orange turban, it will be my new facebook pic...

We sometimes forget that in these quiet parts of the world people may be happy with their simple village life, with no need for wifi, exotic holidays or G-Star denim. These two seemed to be more than content with their lives, their camels and the passing of life, one year after another, one breeding season followed by the next. Happiness is not a modern times invention.

One more day in this small town and then another night train down to Jodhpur. The Rough Guide puts down the town's fort as the Numero Uno thing not to miss when in India...

Just one more thing. Julia Roberts is in town, well at least in Rajastan, so clearly she heard that we were here.

And couldn't contain herself.

No comments:

Post a Comment