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Desserts and the Desert

Jaisalmer, India

The bus to Jaisalmer was far better than the last one. We managed to avoid another display of my digestive pyrotechnics thanks to a chair seat, rather than a sleeper compartment.

When the bus arrived we were met at the stop before ours by a man from the hotel we were booked into. He told us that at the next stop there would be many hotel touts, and that we should stick to him. When we got off at the next stop we saw that he was right. Another couple who were moving from the same hotel as us, to the same hotel was met by four touts who all knew his name, claiming to be from the hotel he was being referred to! I was asked to explain to them that we were from the same hotel, and that they should come with the man who had met us. Tricky people these touts.

We went for a wander around the city after settling in with an awesome cup of chai. Jaisalmer is a small place, and fairly touristy, but very laid back as the tourists never stay long. Leatherworking seems to be the specialty here, and there are some lovely leather bags. Glen and I eventually picked up a satchel each for around NZ$10. We've also started to get a bit more adventurous with our food. We've played it safe for much of the trip, but stuck to curries (veg of course) which have been cooked for so long that it's a lot harder to get sick. While we're still too scared to try street food like pakora and samosa, we've started sampling the sweet stalls.

We made friends with a man in a tailor shop, who was offering decent prices. It's funny here; when you browse a shop they make you sit down and literally start throwing things at you to look at. And I mean piles and piles of clothes. It's a bit overwhelming, but I guess this is their ploy. After a couple of chai with him and a browse around, we ended up buying a couple of things each - I got some aladin type pants for travelling (Ingrid, you would LOVE these), and glen got some pants and a shirt to keep cool in the heat. He insisted that we stay for one more chai, and we had a chat about our lives. He was so lovely, giving me a free scarf that I was interested in, because it was his last and he didn't have the colour I wanted. He made us promise to go back for another chai before were to leave.

The next day we headed out on a camel safari into the Thar desert. We were taken by car 40km out of Jaisalmer, where we met our camel drivers, Dalpat and Leelo. The camels here are huge! Their back is about 1 1/4 times our height, so riding on them is quite an experience.

We trekked a couple of hours before stopping to cook lunch on a basic campfire (chai first of course). They showed us how to make chai, chapathi and curry. Very tasty. Afterwards, we had a quick nap, then back off on the safari. We camped that night in the great dunes, behind a bush to block the wind. We sat up drinking chai and talking around the camp fire, and they sang us some camfire songs (C-A-M-P-F-I-R-E S-O-N-G songs, aye Lana).

The camel drivers are desert people; they live in one of the villiages scattered around the desert, living in mud huts. Their families were farming people, but there has been no rain in these parts for three years. We had talked to a boy in the city who was working at the restaurant we ate at, whose family was in the same position. They sent him to the city to work and make money to send back home.

Out in the desert you could see that this was true. The ground was baked solid like clay in parts, and in others it was cracked like mosaic tiles. The trees have all been trimmed short by animals who cannot find any grass to graze.

After a freezing night on the sand we started out in the morning to head home. Up on the camels it was even colder, as we caught the icy wind. In these parts, the day does not start to heat up until midday, so we were frozen solid by the time we stopped for lunch. Once back in Jaisalmer we were craving a hot shower, but found there was no hot water. So cold bucket showers it was. Still, it was good to get all that sand out of my hair.

Before leaving Jaisalmer the next day, we went to see our friend the tailor one last time, as we had promised. He came back with chai and various family members for us to meet. So sweet. He's made us promise that we'll come back next time we're in India, and that I'll bring my husband (yet to be), and Glen will bring his wife. Very cute. We expressed our doubts about our respective marital statuses in 5 years time.

I will fill you all in on Pushkar in a day or two, once we've really got a feel for it. Needless to say, we love it. As we go along our trip we keep declaring each new place our new favourite. India just keeps surprising us!

Sorry about the lack of photos. We've taken hundreds. It's just hard to find a fast internet connection here. As soon as we do, we'll post some for you all.



permalink written by  Capto on January 10, 2010 from Jaisalmer, India
from the travel blog: Two months in Limbo
tagged CamelSafariJaisalmer

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So jealous, I want you to make me chai over a campfire when you get back. And when I get back for that matter. Will be my next trip for sure, sounds amazing. Ah,it has snowed in Provence,which NEVER happens, and I am surrounded by ice as they don't bother putting salt down. Ah, France.

permalink written by  Lucy on January 11, 2010

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