Jaisalmer and Safari
Jaisalmer Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
March 13th, 2007 – by: stodbrown
In my minds eye, I saw myself on a great adventure straight out of “Arabian Nights.
Virander and I are getting on much better now. We speak often, even though he always addresses me in the following manner: “Excuse me sir.” We talk of many things. He is 21 years old, and betrothed to a bride back in Varanasi. He only works in Delhi to save money for his impending family, which he hopes only includes one child.
As it’s pouring rain, and there’s nothing else to do, I headed down to the restaurant for a cup of tea. The restaurant was of course closed till seven. The manager was really cool though. He told me to have a seat, went into the kitchen, yelled something in Hindi, and came out to let me know it was on the way. He stood over me and asked where I was from.
Oh, almost forgot. I have a wife now…In India, and to a degree in Thailand, it’s unthinkable to be 31 years of age, and to not have a family. So I’ve learned to just tell them that my wife couldn’t leave work, and that we’ll be starting a family real soon. This avenue has proved easier than seeing all the stares and looks of pity. In fact, in the case of Thailand, the locals want nothing to do with you if you’re in that state- it’s bad luck. When Rob, Barb, and I were getting massages in Thailand, they were asked how long they had been married. They both replied that they were in fact not married, and the ladies thought they were joking. I later told them to just pretend for the moment, as they’re practically married as is. Anyways, short story long, I hope my wife’s being true to me back in the states.
Things have definitely taken a turn for the better. I woke in Jaisalmer the next morning to find that it was again raining. Upset as can be, I just figured we’d go on to Udaipur. I was mistaken. Virander told me to hold on, go to the Jaisalmer fort, look around, and then see what the weather was like. Glad he did, for by the time I left the fort, the sun had appeared. We drove deeper into the Thar Desert, and checked into the “Hotel.” The hotel is named the Krishna Desert Resort, and there wasn’t very much in the way of resort about it, unless “last resort” was on your mind. The “resort” was a Simi-circle of dung huts surrounded by a dung wall…. Dung you’re asking? Yes, dung. The walls of the huts are made of it, then are covered by sand, and then painted. The roofs are made of thatch, and there are swallows nesting in every one of them. A Canadian woman in the hut directly across from mine, had bird droppings on her bed. “Oh well.” I told myself. I had been looking for rustic, real life India, and here it was. Time to step up. The proprietor was a very nice man. He made us lunch, and wouldn’t stop giving me food. I finally had to remind him that I was going on a safari that afternoon. Then things started to get fun.
The camel driver showed up around 3 p.m. His name was Mr. Singh and he had the obligatory Maharajas turban, and all the other accompaniments. I get on the beast, and Mr. Singh told me to lean back. The scariest part of riding a camel is when they get up and down. The camel lurches upwards-hind legs first, and it nearly throws you off the seat. The camel then rises up on it’s front legs, and that gives you a serious lurch in the opposite direction.
The weather was near perfect. Temps around 78-80 degrees were the highs, and there was a very nice breeze blowing through the dunes. We saw a surprising amount of wildlife: Deer, wild donkeys, monkeys, jackals, foxes, and the ubiquitous eagles that are everywhere in this country.
If you already know me, you’ve probably wondered how in the world is this guy going on a camel safari? I thought the same thing. I’m not exactly the roughing it type. I like warm beaches, drinks with little umbrellas, espn in the hotel room, etc, etc. I haven’t been, nor will I be, on a horse in years. So honestly, at first, I was wondering what in the world had I gotten myself into? Camels are far taller than horses, and their gait is really hard to get used to. You’re honestly about seven feet off the ground at your rump. It’s easy to see how the Crusader Knights, on their horses could be bested by a Saracen on a taller camel. So after about 30 minutes, I was as sore as can be. I was sitting on top of this giant creature, praying to heaven for a break. We sat down about an hour into the trip. I took a few photos, and we were again on our way. Something happened though-I was no longer sore. The initial ride must have stretched me out, and from there on out it was smooth sailing, we even broke into a full gallop a few times.
Mr. Singh next took me to his village. As we pulled up to the small collection of huts, children poured out of the street, and came to greet us. Mr. Singh sent his son to get us some tea, and we sat there with the kids for about an hour. The kids were great! I honestly love being around children. I’ve been working with kids for over ten years, and I never realized how much I’d miss them. To be hanging with these little urchins was a lot of fun. Most of the kids spoke English pretty well. Mr. Singh’s oldest son was 12, and his English was great. We drank tea as the children showed me the Latin alphabet drawn with a stick in the sand.
We then went onto the Sam Sand Dunes. These are massive dunes some of which reach heights of 300 feet or more. We sat and watched the sun go down for the next two hours. Some very enterprising young boys came and sold me a bottle of warm Kingfisher for 200 rupees. They tried to get 450 out of me, but I wasn’t having that, a warm Kingfisher isn’t that good. As the sun was finally below the horizon, the owner of Krishna’s Resort drove up in a jeep, and asked how the day had gone. After explaining what a fun day it had been, he asked if I would like to spend the night in the desert. Earlier in the day, he had told me it wasn’t possible, as it would very likely rain again. The weather had obviously cleared sufficiently enough for him to change his mind, and I of course told him that I would be happy to sleep on the dunes.
We rode the camel back to the “resort” and I looked at my dung hut…I wondered if I would rather spend the night there, or under the stars…Easy choice of course. After dinner a man named Hookem (Yeah, I know all you Texas fans out there, it says Hook’em. I get it.) arrived with a camel cart. Camel carts are wooden platforms attached to old aircraft wheels. He took a small bed frame, mattress, blankets, a few waters, and we set out. The drive out to the dunes was even cool. There were millions of stars, no cars, only the sound of the wind rustling through the brambles. Hookem set up my bed at the top of a dune. No tent, no cover of any kind, just me in the open desert. I’ve found my “Arabian Nights” story; the song was actually going through my head at times. I lay there under the stars mesmerized for hours, as I couldn’t sleep. Hookem could. He was about 40 yards away sleeping under the camel cart. His snores were the only thing you could hear at times. He had told me the moon would rise at one in the morning. I must have fallen asleep sometime before then, because I woke up, and there it was. A silver sheen had spread over the land around me. The dunes, the bushes, and my bed were all dressed in silver. I had to stay up and watch that of course. Sleep eventually overtook me, and I found myself waking to the sounds of millions of little birds. The day had come, and they were my personal alarm clock. The sunrise over the dunes was of course a beautiful sight. We headed back over the next few hours to the “resort”, and my first great adventure in India was over.
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