Bea goes to India 2006

A place to house periodic comments from Bea while she backpacks her way through India and Nepal.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

back from the Camel Trek

we returned to Jaisalmer around noon today... of course my first order of the day was a shower and food -- but now an air-conditioned slow connection is calling... I just can't be bothered to go shopping -- suppose that there should be some updating to my wardrobe [the clothes I bought to work in are pretty seriously soiled...] but I just can't be overmuch bothered -- soon enough we will be in cooler climes and the long-sleeved items I brought will come to the fore.

have you ever been on a camel?

they are smelly, often grumpy beasts -- belch, fart, spit snot at you -- and a pretty uncomfortable gait.... but I had a MARVELOUS time!

not at all what I expected. My camel's name was Johnny [as in Johnny Be Good] -- he was the only one of the group that liked to be petted and liked chapatis... he also had bells [more like ball bearings] around his front feet so he was a bit musical...

we woke thursday to light rain -- it stayed cloudy/cool most of the day -- we went out and bought a goat from a nearby village for dinner... they butchered it for us and cooked something like a stew... we slept under a couple of tarps. and of course although it is the desert and not monsoon season, we had a stormy night -- some people more soaked than others -- the wind howling on the tarp was most annoying.

Friday morning we woke up to an awesome camp breakfast -- toast and boiled eggs and chai -- bananas and oranges... one of our team was seriously ill -- it adjusted our schedule for the day, but in a way that I quite liked -- we went directly to our destination for the 2nd night of camping, and there we ate lunch and lazed about for most of the afternoon -- about half the party took a loop on the camels around 4pm... I was among the ones that prefered the shade!

the second night was better weather -- we also had more of a sheltered location, but since it was nice about half of the group spent part of the night under the stars... because of the prior nights rain and the dew point, we were all pretty soaked in the morning -- those of us under cover from drips and the others seeping up from the sand or condensing on their blankets....... good thing we are mostly all drip-dry.

there is a rhythm to the ride, and an easy comraderie amongst the staff -- for the 12 of us, there were 13 camels and a total of 9 staff -- sometimes they would double-up on a camel, and often they were walking. Johnny B is a relatively young animal -- 5 yrs old and will live into his mid-20's, probably working 15 more years and then shifted to cart-pulling... most of the time he was led, but sometimes I was steering... you click your tongue to increase the speed, pull up to halt, and steer in a most intuitive manner -- pull their head the direction you would like them to go!

the villages we visited were fairly small -- in one we purchased more grain for the camels , the second one we stopped by was too far away to walk, but a nearby farmer brought over beer and soft drinks for us to buy

we ate better than expected -- Andy had set really low expectations for the food, and I quite liked what we were given -- there was always plenty and the spices were nice -- they offered the hot stuff as a side dish so people could amend as they like.

when I came back, I was surprised that I was cleaner than the trip to Amritsar -- well, maybe I smelled worse, but the water that ran off of me in my cold shower was more gritty-sandy than the black-filth of the train....

Sickness seems to be a common side effect of our environment -- Lucy is better, Bex is struggling and hoping a quiet afternoon will be restorative. I'm feeling alright, although I'm sure my intestines are not 100% happy.

Tomorrow we have a long train journey to Delhi -- this trip we apply for our visas for Nepal, pick up some items and drop off others, and work on including more cool-weather gear in our assortment. Then it is off to Rishikesh for the better part of a week.

our group is having some "storming" moments -- expect there will be fireworks. not sure I will like the result, but the tension will be lessened a bit if it is acknowledged [I hope!]

off to update my e-mails