A couple of Canadians on a couple of camels
Jan 28, 2016
|After a relatively luxurious 12 hour train journey and a midnight rickshaw ride with a guy who looked exactly like Silas from the Da Vinci Code, we arrived in the desert town of Jaisalmer. This is the India we've been waiting for! Narrow alleyways, beautiful havelis, and a breathtaking fort housing over 3000 permanent residents. The breathing room in the town was nice, but we came here for the desert, so into the Thar desert we went.
At the crack of dawn, we met our camels and our guide. Deena, our guide, was pretty quiet. That is, until you got him talking about the upcoming Rajasthani Desert Festival! Deena proudly told us that my camel, aptly named Rocket, was a champion racing camel. Ryan's camel, Callo, is a pollo camel and Deena has won 5 matches riding that valiant steed. ("Watch a camel pollo match" is one of my new bucket list items, by the way.) Camels are a actually a surprisingly smooth ride - unless they're going uphill, downhill, or any faster than a plod, that is.
For 6 hours, we plodded through the desert until we reached our camp for the night. The camels were set free to roam and we watched the sunset with chai until the guides fed us so much dinner that we were in a food coma by the time the first star came out. The moon was almost full, and we spent the night star gazing, chatting, and singing around the campfire. Well, more like one of the guides sang beautiful Marwari songs and drummed on a water jug, then tried in vain to encourage each of us to sing a song from our country (we were with a french couple and an American guy). Western countries are such duds. How were we supposed to follow the guide's heart-wrenching hymns? Kumbaya? Ugghh...
When the night wound down, we were buried under heaps of camel-scented blankets and fell asleep to the sounds of foxes howling and the camels happily chewing their cud. For such a touristy activity, the tour felt pleasantly authentic. The French guy even found a baby snake under his pillow in the morning! The desert is a wild and beautiful place, and what better way to see it than from the back of a camel.
Some fun facts about camels and the desert:
- you can buy a "good camel" for about $600
- camel guides are paid about $60/month to care for 3 camels
- the Rajasthani Desert Festival also has mustache-twirling competitions
- when the camels are "set free" to roam, their front legs are tied together so that they can only manage a short step at a time. The camels don't seem to mind and have figured out a hilarious-looking way to run anyways.
- camels growl. It sounds like a mix between King Kong and a grizzly bear.
We're now in the beautiful blue city of Jodhpur.
Peace, love, and chai,