Camel Safari in Thar Desert

The Camel Safari
After a short 30 or so minute jeep ride into the heart of the Thar desert we unloaded our packs. We took just what we needed and tossed the rest into a cart pulled by a camel. We each were given out own camel. The man claimed my camel's name was Raj, but I'm not too sure how much the name means. Dave's camel was named Michael Jackson and the others had typical Indian-sounding names. We were all in dressed in pants and shows to protect ourselves from the abrasive sand and sun. We rode the camels nonstop for roughly 2 hours. I was doing quite well, but the others were complaining about their backs and bums when they had gotten off. We were only 5km from where we initially started, but it was desolate. Very little vegetation and sand dunes all around us. There were ants and large beadles swimming in their endless baths of sand. We watched the sun set which started at 6:30 and was fully set at 6:40. It set over Pakistan and tomorrow we will watch it rise over Delhi. We enjoyed a nice snack that was freshly cooked by the people that walked along out camels. We got some fried vegetable stuff, along with some sweet biscuits, and some freshly fried potato slices. They also had this one treat that is similar to the Chinese colored wafers some restaurants give you for your soup. This of course was accompanied by some authentic sweet chai. We played some drinking games and drank the Indian beer of choice, Kingfisher. While we were watching the sun set a man played some music for us using some type of metal vibrating pin. See to the right for a sampling.

After a short while a local hill tribe (gypsies) played us some music and danced. One instruments was a drum and tambourine while the other sounded like a bag pipe. There were two young women dressed in native clothing and danced gracefully for us. They took our hands and we all joined in, only not so gracefully. Men were building a fire at this point and preparing our feast. Were were all very hungry since we hadn't eaten for a while. When the meal came we couldn't believe how much there was. We were given chapati, rice, and 4 vegetarian dishes. I didn't think it was too much, neither did Deb, the Scottish born Aussie who was sitting next to me. See a photo of Deb on the right. Much to our surprise men kept coming back with large pots of food and gave us heaps upon heaps of food. I couldn't believe how much I ate. After dinner we got a table/bed closer to the fire and set up a card game to drink to. Each card has a rule and every player takes turns drawing cards. The point of the game is to drink. No winners, no losers. We all drank and drank for hours until it was about 12:00. We were listening to some music at that point. It was funny because no one had a pair of speakers that was working and my iPod wasn't loud enough. One girl had a flashlight you can wind up and charge anything via a USB port. One of the girls had bought a small speaker that charges just this way. So we would be winding this damn flashlight to power the speaker, and If I would wind too slow the speaker would just stop. It sounded like a broken record was playing. We were all having a blast trying to wind this thing fast enough to keep up with the music of the iPod. We gazed at the stars and it was just so clear. We slept on a, well, don't know how to describe it. There was a frame with 4 legs, and along the top there were some straps of fabric. On this fabric we laid some sheets and then a pillow. We were just sleeping out in the open under the stars (see picture on left). The nearest toilette is wherever the hell you want it to be. The rule was just that you were supposed to kick sand on wherever you had just gone. I was writing in my journal and there must have been at least 5 girls swarming over to see if I had written about them. They were quite put off that I had not, though I passed it around and let them all write a little something. I've been keeping up very good on my journal writing. Everyday, between 2 and 4 pages a day on average. Here in India they sell nicely crafted leather bound journals with nice paper and I want to buy them all. I am not sure I have any more uses for them, so Please give me some suggestions as how I could use them. I need SOME type, ANY type of an excuse to buy 1, 2, or 8 of these. Also, if you like journals and want one, just let me know what size, and style and it's yours. TRUST ME ON THIS...I went to look at many journals before settling on the one I brought with me on my trip. The leather journals back in the states will cost between $15 and $80 USD, while the SAME ones will cost between $2 and $10.

Anyways I'm off to take a 5 hour public bus to Jodhpur, India.