We set off in the early morning hours to meet our camel guide in the desert. During the ride there, I pictured Lawrence of Arabia and dreamed of Arabian Nights. We reached the meeting point and I caught sight of our camels, all geared up and ready to go. I was paired up with Kaloo, the smallest camel of the lot and as it turned out, also the rebel. He had his own idea about where to go and just how fast he thought he needed to get there. At first I was digging the ride. It was rather bumpy, but I thought it beat walking in the desert. Ha! By the next morning, I would be doing just that! Riding a camel sucks. I hate to say this, and Oz and I agreed, it's like having sex for hours on top, with no pleasure, only pain, and no real benefit.
Sure, you are making some progress across the desert landscape, but you can walk as fast without the chaffing that accompanies the camel ride. Every time I disembarked, I walked like a cowboy who'd been on his horse for days, and this was just after one hour! I mean, it was like riding a bucking bronco for crying out loud.
I did my best to not complain. My companions kept quiet for the most part as well, although the one was Japanese, so I don't think he knew any English or Hindi words to express how he was feeling. My other companion was a young Aussie gal with flowing hair who made me sick with envy over her disgusting beauty. To top it all off, they forgot to pack my beer! Ah. We were promised on this non-touristy trip to see villagers and how they lived.
Kaloo and I crossing the desert
As it turned out, we'd stop to water the camels and then our camel driver would say to us "go into the village, but be careful of the children." I thought to myself, what is this, Children of the Corn in the desert, but as it turned out, it was. They would descend upon us, loads of heathen children with snotty noses, grabbing at us and anything we were carrying, begging for rupees and school pens, or chocolate. The first village I just made my escape and the second one, I found one little girl that stole my heart, but I still made a hasty retreat after fighting off the others. Basically, it wasn't much of a village experience. And the landscape, well, it was pretty uninteresting. We did hit pure sand dunes, but mostly it was dirt with desert bushes and grazing animals and fields of camel grass.
Camel driver's assistant - he doesn't attend school, but at about 13 is earning 1000 rupees/month ($25) doing camel treks (I love the camel's face!)
Our Japanese fella paid extra at the first village for a chicken for dinner. I mistakenly thought it was included. Our camel driver showed up with it - a live, pleading-for-life-chicken he carried the way to our night camp. I thought, what did you expect, Chris, we'd pull up to a grocery store and buy a pre-packaged chicken? The Aussie and I went on a walk as they took it off to slaughter.
So what did I enjoy on this trek? Well, sitting around the fire was cool (sans beer though) but it was cold, so we all hit the hay about 8:30 and huddled under our blankets on the hard sand. The next morning after an hour ride, I begged to stop and be let off to walk. Our camel guide didn't know what to think of me.
Our camel driver, chicken in hand, pulling along reluctant Kaloo
I stubbornly refused to remount, walking for about two hours (I needed the exercise really). After the first hour, he got off my camel and walked with me, feeling guilty. After lunch, I gave it a go, but I now have blistering inner calfs and my back aches. I was a total crabby abby on this trip. I hated my attitude so much that at times I felt like telling myself to go to hell. I kept telling myself, this is better than sitting at a desk working, right?
I made it back to the hotel with about an hour before my bus to Pushkar. I found my bag had been eaten into by a mouse trying to reach some nuts in my bag. I angrily fixed that up and then Raju, who had promised a ride to the bus stand, just led me walking there.
When we got there, I was already angry about that, and then I looked over to notice a man with his pants hiked up, standing and leaning over a barrel, taking a dump. I quickly diverted my eyes, only to notice a dog limping around with a broken leg, so I turned away from that to notice a cow eating a plastic bag with an already bloated stomach. I wanted to scream "I hate India!" However, I just boarded the bus, enduring another overnight haul, freezing, to find myself in Pushkar at 3:30 in the morning.
After having a blow out with the owner of the hotel here, who tried to charge me a full night's price for last night, I got some sleep. I woke up to no power, as is custom here, and after breakfast, finally grabbed a hot shower (well, a minute's worth of hot shower). So now I approach Pushkar with a new calm, ipruprofen in my system, and hope that this holy city will reinvigorate my love for India.