Starting the camel trek
It has been 6 intense weeks in India now. And I can honestly say that I love and I hate India. Everyone wants something from me and noone will leave me alone. From the second I get off the bus or train, they want me to stay in their hotel, eat in their restaurant, shop in their store, drive in their taxi, buy their jewelry....and they won't take no for an answer. in many cases, they are flagrantly rude to me when I say no. Some people even yell across the street at me to get my attention and to buy whatever they are selling. I have built up an "immune system" which is a natural reaction to a) completely ignore them, or 2) give an aggressive "NO" before even looking them in the eye. I don't like this feeling.
Sunset on the dunes with beer
People often approach me and start to bargain and negotiate on something that I never even showed any interest. Many times, I don't even know what they are offering. And, one time, a boy tried to sell Jason a rock
. Yes - a rock.
It is unfortunate. But, I feel that my temper is starting to boil - WAY TOO OFTEN! Way too quickly! And, way too intensely. I find something in my personality coming out that I don't like. This is not good. And my experience in Jaisalmer made it worse - until our camel safari.....
The city of Jaisalmer is in the middle of the northwest Indian desert near Pakistan.
Jason and I came all the way here for one reason: to do a camel safari in the desert. But, we heard that it gets boring quick and it hurts your ass too much. So, after some rigorous research to find the right guide, we found Om from Arya Tours and Travels
! Om was also managing a cool Internet cafe where he was always playing great music and inviting guests upstairs for chai tea or beers. Jason and I signed up for a simple one-night camel safari. It turned out to be the best AND worst part of our trip so far:
The hospital: Let me explain. We had four people and four camels in our group. But just 10 minutes into our ride something horrible happened. Daniela's (the swiss girl) camel started running and shaking.
"Kolky" - our favorite gypsy dancer. You should see her without makeup. I think she's 14!!
She fell off the camel but her foot was stuck in the stirup. So, she fell under the camel and was hanging by her ankle. The camel started to panic and freak out jumping and kicking and bucking. Daniela was getting bashed and smashed as she dangled from her ankle. I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING MORE SCARY.
Noone knew what to do and our camel leader didn't speak English. When she finally got loose and fell and we got to her, I saw her forehead swell up right before my eyes. She had a bump that grew from a marble into an orange-sized puffed balloon of blood. After a 20 minute ordeal of which jeep to take, we raced off to the hospital.
The hospital experience was absolutely ridiculous. Upon arrival, they had a metal plank stained with dried blood to carry her inside.
me - the genie.
There were a dozen people crowding around us all acting like doctors. One seemed "in the know" and so we assumed he was the doctor. He wasn't. After 15 minutes of acting in control, he informed us that he was not the doctor. We were begging for ice and the hospital didn't have ice!
Can you believe that? Are you kidding me? NO ice in an emergency room hopital. After pressuring them to realize how serious this could be, they suggested that we go across the street to the "private" doctor's house. So, we did. He sat her on his porch and told her that her forehead was swollen. No shit? Really? Then, the single most defining moment of my trip in India occured. As she lay on his porch in shock and pain, being examined, one of the doctor's helpers approached me and asked where she was staying.
Surprised, I told him the hotel name. As I gave him the answer, he tried to sell me a "better room - bigger and cheaper" for her. The doctor's aid tried to sell her a hotel room - for her to change hotel as she lay on the ground with a head and body wounds.
I hate to say it. But, that's India. At least my experience.
The Camel Safari: Our friend Daniela took a week to recover, but she is ok. And, so Jason and I decided to do what we came to do. We decided to get back up on the camel and try again. And, I am so glad that we did. It turned into the hightlight of our trip so far. The next day we rode off into the desert for a one-night camel trip. But, we didn't come back for 4 days! We loved every moment.
Look at the photos.
my camel at dusk.
We rode into the desert sand dunes where we set up camp and slept for 3 nights. Every night we watched the sun set into the sand. Every morning I sat on the corniss of the dunes and meditated as I watched the sun rise from the sand. At night, the sky lit up like a flourescent light bulb. We played in the dunes running and jumping - rolling down the steep sand hills. It was exhilarating.
One day as we rode our camels into a gypsy village, we were offered a live chicken for 500 rupies. I had heard that "Desert Chicken" was amazing. so, we bought it. It hung out on the back of Jason's camel all day (until dinnertime). It was the first meat I have eaten in 6 weeks - since I got to India.
dancing with Kolky
It was fantastic!
And so, the next day as we passed the gypsy village, we decided to buy a goat. Yes - a goat. It walked back to our base camp in the sand dunes and waited until dinner time. Word spread around the desert and several gypsies and camel leaders came to see who the rich americans were. They all joined us for goat dinner!!!! It was an amazing night. "Beerman" brought the beer and the gypsies danced and played music into the night. It was truly a special 4 days in the desert. I will never forget it. Even our camel leader cried when we had to leave.
Jaisalmer turned out to be quite a special experience.