Monday, 10 October 2011

Jaisalmer: sorry if I smell of camel

Jaisalmer surprising rhymes with "Hasslemere".

We left the golden Rajput fort of Jaisalmer; a kind of golden Gondor, or Maricarol from the children's Tamarind books. Yogi took us down into the market, past the young girl on the tight rope, where he picked up pineapple, papaya (it always taste of sick, but I know it's good for me) and bananas. We lept into a new silver Mahindra jeep and played at being Indiana Jones in our 100R safari hats.

The driver had a photo of his dead brother on the dash - later found out that he had been shot in road rage incident 10 years ago by best friend - and drove us 50km out of the city in south west direction. He turned up the Indy pop and Bear said "this is what we have come travelling for".

After a brief meet and greet with the camels, they tell you to "lean back" as the camel goes up. Our camel drivers Dain Kuan Mahax and Sabl Subgh Batna could barely get to the end of the word "lean", before the camel had galumphed to its feet. Raz said I mouthed the F-word as I went up. Phew. Only that one then.

Magi was a bit miffed as she was on the smallest, but it was still taller than a 4WD. The desert was green from the heavy monsoon and Raz thought it looked like Cockleridge at Bigbury. By 11am, after an hour and a half on the camels, we stopped under a huge tree. We lounged under it until 3pm. Dain and Sabl made fresh potato curry and chappatis. They persuaded a local sheep to give us some milk for our chai.

Raz, Magi and me picked our way through the bush – mindful of cobras and scorpions – to locate the camels, who had been allowed to roam freely during lunch. We couldn’t see them from the third dune, so we split and went back to the tree. Sabl turned up a while later with a train of camels lashed together.

We were in sniffing distance of Pakistan later in the afternoon, before we got to the dunes.
Then it was…dune jumping, sunset, more food, Orion’s belt, like dusty highway through the night sky and 11 shooting stars.

The next morning we woke to find the blankets were heavy with dew and intensely camelly.


skinnyfitkate said...

Lovely post Miranda! What an amazing year you are giving your children. And doesn't your eldest look like you. Looks like you're all feeling better of which I'm glad. We gave our boys a year in Canada - not quite so mind-blowing though! There's still time xxxxx

Felix V said...

Wange...what have you been drinking ? Can you bring some back for me ? Lovely words and photos, am sure the kids loved the camels. Has Digs found a golf course yet ? Lots of love from home x

Miranda Gardiner said...

thanks Fe and Kate. Haven't drunk anything since leaving home but took some soft narcotics in the old delhi market a couple of days ago. You know, bettle nut leaf packed with spoonfuls of something! Quite menthol and Avnish said it would make us feel like we had a full deck! I think it's the stuff that rots their teeth and keeps them happy all over south asia. I'll get some images of the bettle nut wraps up soon! x