We awoke this morning to brilliant day, and when we were able to see the area in the daylight now, found that the tent village is also a farm, with crops growing in the area between each tent! They have an irrigation system fed by a well. Also, there are a few cows scattered around the various parts of the farm,
This morning was another real highlight - a camel ride to the camel fair - wow! These are single-humped camels, dromedaries, and have a sort of a saddle called a howdah. It can hold two people, like on a motorcycle, and there are stirrups, each made of a piece a rope, that make it feel more secure. So we climbed aboard our own individual camels, who were lying down, but still needed a footstool to get that high. When they get up, you have to hold on tight to the small iron post in front of you, and lean back, because the back part of the camel gets up first. Then it feels a bit like a roller coaster as the front gets up and the camel final settles down to walk. Anne found it a far better experience than in Morocco, where there was only a pile of blankets to sit on and no stirrups at all. There was a camel driver holding a rope and guiding the camel, so all we had to do was hang on and enjoy the ride, which was about a half hour. Tom found the mount so secure, he was able to use both hands to hold his cameras. We entered the camel fairgrounds on the camels and dismounted inside, a bit bow-legged for a minute!
We had never seen or imagined so many camels in one place, and the there are also cattle to be traded. It was a bit like a big county fair at home, complete with rides and ferris wheels. We went to the viewing stand to watch the horse dancing competition. The stand was swarming with hawkers! Before that, a fake camel - man in camel suit - came out and danced around. It was cute, kind a clown, but it got boring after he did it at intervals for about twenty minutes. When the horse dancing started, it was not all that exciting - a decorated horse lead by a trainer who basically made the horse do tricks in time to drums and music. The camel dancing was after that - same thing - and we began to feel sorry for the horses and camels - it seemed a bit cruel.
D.P finally rounded up our group, and we then walked through the rest of the town, which also was swarming with little shops as well as hawkers and beggars. Our group of Westerners are obvious targets, but we have found that totally ignoring them as of we were blind and deaf makes them go away fast - we don't give them any incentive to work on us. We find that looking out of the corner our eyes lets us see what is available just in case there is something we might actually want!
Finally we arrived at a set of stone stairs that led to a small lake. This was where we had been told that a Hindu priest would perform a lovely ceremony for us. We were surprised when a guy in Western clothes (pants and shirt) came over and seemed to be our designated priest - he could at least have been wearing a robe or vestment and therefore look less like a street hawker. It seemed like a lot of mumbo-jumbo with a lot of money pleas thrown in, and we were not touched by it except to find it disconcerting. It was done in couples, and the two ladies in our groups, who met professionally at conferences and now travel together once a year or so, were taken off to a different step and given individual treatment - no chance to be a couple there (which they are not).
After some more walking around, we found our way back to the camel fair, where D.P. tried to tell the camel guys where we were by cell phone, and we sat down at a vendor's stand. Finally a camel guy on a motorcycle came by looking for us, and eventually directed the camel drivers where to find us too. Tom hopped on the first camel and took off. Anne was thinking of returning in a camel cart, but the first one was full of the original four people in our group who had come that way in the first place, so when a nicely decorated black camel pulled up, she thought, "There's my ride!" and climbed on. It was an awesome ride back, being able to see hillside filled with camels and tents. Even more exciting was having to duck our heads under live, uninsulated electric wires! We arrived back at out tent hotel for lunch, shower, and a nap.
It was a quick nap, though, since we had an Indian drumming lesson at 4:00, which was fun. Tom really got into the drumming. Then a break until 7:30, followed by a puppet show - really neat and traditional - a magic show, also traditional, and dancers in wonderful costumes. Soup was served and a bonfire lit during the dancing, and this was followed by supper. The puppeteer had puppets for sale, and we bought two - got a third for free - and the dancers had some jewelry and beadwork for sale - we bought two pieces. This is where they then pursue you as you walk away and plead that you buy more by thrusting items at you!
We went to dinner, then strolled back under a half moon lighted sky to our tent that had an aromatherapy candle lighted, our clothes that we had scattered all over the tent picked up and warm hot water bottles to snuggle into as we drifted off to sleep with the sounds of the fair echoing in the background.