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Published: March 24th 2010
It has been along time but we are now finally in India.
The flight into Delhi wasn't too bad. Being a total journey of 20 something hours; Guatemala - Miami, Miami-Newark, Newark-Delhi. If we had known before hand that we must enter the US we would have taken a different route. Its a nightmare. Fingerprints recorded, photo taken, many useless questions to be answered. We fought having a 4 hour gap between our flights would be nice and relaxing. It wasn't. We spent the whole time just entering the States and then going through security again to leave. Pointless!
Anyway, back to India. After landing at 23:00 we were luckily picked up by our hostel. The car however was something else. It made the Bolivian vehicles look like Bentleys. And if the car wasn't enough to worry about our driver made sure we had another reason. Christ, these people drive like maniacs . Cutting other drivers, marginally missing pedestrians, ignoring every road sign possible, and even taking a short cut up the other side of the motorway dogging the oncoming traffic. We did however make it into Delhi, and without even a NEW scratch on his car.
Driving through the
streets we saw an elephant and what was to become the first from thousands of cows. Delhi itself, or at least the backpackers area, is nothing worth writing home about. It was dirty, full of con men trying to get money off you, loud and noisy rickshaw drivers wanting to take you some place and making themselves aware to all around by continuously blowing their horns.
After many detours (touts telling us that the ticket office is closed and has been moved to HERE= a travel agency paying a second wage for the rail worker.) we had our train ticket. Next stop: the Desert, also known as Jaisalmer
This sandstone town, has a fascinating fort and is also the starting point for camel safaris. However it is also a town of mixed feelings. First, the sheer beauty of the sandstone fort, temples and buildings welcome you to relax and slender through the streets while the evening sun turns them into glowing embers of a long burning fire. Then after the sun makes way for the stars the town transforms into the set for 1001 nights.
The down side being the fort is slowly decaying and crumbling away due to
eine Zugfahrt die ist lustig und unbequem...
poor sewage standards. Litter cobbles the street where cows try to find something eatable inside. Pigs bath in the open drainage systems running along the sides of the roads. And then there are the Indian drivers. Each male trying to impress with the sound of his horn. It is not just a way of warning, letting you know that someone is coming with something stronger, and that they will not break. We have been hooted by many motorbikes on empty roads large enough to fit ???.
We were however very pleased with the Hotel we were staying in, a mid-range place built from sandstone and it resembled an old Haveli
. The rooms were spotless and the food was amazing. A lot better than the stuff we had in Delhi, which tasted good, but watered down. The rooftop area had a nice view of the fort, which we admired in most nights, while enjoying the sunset, the food and a beer.
Beer is strange here. As most Indians are Hindus they do not drink, which makes beer a tourist item. The price is the same, if not more as we spend on food for a meal. This being around 1-2euro person.
(these are the cheaper places)
After strolling around the Fort we decided it was time to take our camel safari.
The next morning we set of with Mr. Desert and 7 other people cramped into one jeep. We were driven out to a nearby village where we would meet our camels and our guides. The guides just arrived back from one tour, and were now preparing for the next.
After saddling our camels we were off into the desert and free from shade under the early morning sun. With the temp. being around 30 degrees already we were in for a very sweaty ride.
At around twelve and after about 2hours riding we rested under a tree. The guides unsaddled the camels, which were left to roam, and then they started the fire to prepare the meal. It was a feast. Lovely veg Curry with rice and freshly made chapatis. We then rested.
We headed out further into the desert and towards the real sand dunes after the sun had dipped a bit. It was indeed a nice feeling riding these camels, which are bigger than one expects, and resemble a creature out of space rather than something which
belongs on earth. They also stink, belch, bite and fart.
The movement one feels is that of being on a small dingy, while traveling against the waves. A nice relaxing rocking movement. If it wasn't for the sore ass. After 3 afternoon hours everybody was happy to get off and lie in the dunes.
Up to this time we had consumed approx. 2 1/2 liters each.
The camp lace was in the middle of a small sand dune field. Beds were made and dinner was cooked. We enjoyed yet another great meal while sitting under the stars. By this time, Mr. Desert had joined us.
After the campfire meal, we sat around and listened to his story.
I'll keep it short.
In his times as a young and poor truck driver he entered a Mr. Desert competition. Like Miss World or so, just that it was for men wearing the traditional clothing. This he one. The next year he re-entered and one again. He then was persuaded by friends to use his small fame and go into the tourist business.
So he opened Sahara Travels. After half a year and not one customer, two photographers entered his shop and asked
if they could take a picture of him wearing the turban. He accepted and posed for free. A few months later he received a contract asking for him to become the face on the cigarettes company from Jaisalmer.
This he also accepted, and hung a poster of the ad behind his desk. Soon people popped in a started to book tours. He also continued winning the Mr. Desert competition and after 5 times became Mr. Desert for life.
His success continued. He was also involved in 4 commercials. Two international (Coca Cola and World cup of Cricket), and two national (Coca Cola and something else). This was all due to his honesty and hard work before he said. Explaining everything being the work of Karma
After spending a wonderful night sleeping under the stars, counting endless numbers of shooting stars, it was back to town, and then into or first indian bus towards Udaipur...
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