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Published: March 6th 2007
Let it hereby be known that two days sitting atop a camel is perfectly long enough! Our camel saddles had no stirrups so our legs were left flailing over the sides of the saddle and our precious bits were slowly pummelled with each camel stride. Even getting up and down from the camel was a rodeo affair and we were forced to hang on to the saddle post while our bodies were whiplashed back and forth as the camel came upright and regained balance. We'd been forewarned about the bumpy ride but the camels appeared so graceful and slender, moving nonchalantly with their heads held high.
Given the ultimate touristy opportunity to experience a camel ride, we opted for a camel safari that took in some local villages and temples about an hour north of Jodhpur, in India's north west. We were first driven by jeep and visited a Jain and Hindu temple on the way, before arriving at the mud brick and straw thatched village where the camels reside. Lunch was a basic but surprisingly delicious homecooked lunch replete with the most sweet and delectable red carrots we've ever eaten!
Our adventure took us out into the desert
but it was not the desert of rolling sand dunes; rather it was parched, dry, scrub and tussock filled land dotted with local Rajput and Bishnoi villages. We passed red hot chillies drying in the sun, goat and sheep herders, and farms growing onion and millet. At one village they women prepared chai and Dave assisted the men in constructing their new abode.
Our camels had some interesting habits; Clodagh's camel repeatedly burped, the entire length of his tongue moving in a vicious undulating motion before finally lolling down the side of his face; Dave's camel when urinating would flap his tail back and forth spreading his scent across the desert and covering Suz with fresh camel wee; and all the camels farted in a crass symphony which reverberated across the desert.
We were a small group; Us, four camel drivers (who doubled as cooks), Clodagh a lovely Irish girl (currently living in Sydney) who we'd meet at our haveli, and perhaps two of the most selfish people we've ever had the misfortune to meet. There was the sour old chain-smoking Dutch woman who is apparently in business with the camel tour operator, and spends a few months
How cute is the camel!
This was when they weren't burping, farting or covering us with camel wee!
a year living in his village and "helping" him to run his business. A sad situation since the camel operator is really a genuine guy, full of Indian hospitality, but now he is cohorts with her and her bad attitude is very detrimental to his business. She was joined by her non-paying friend; a young Finnish girl who despite only having travelled India for only three months was a self-confessed expert on everything and anything Indian.
Basically they hogged the camel cart for the entire two days (enjoying a smooth and comfortable ride), while the three of us unable (or unwilling) to endure further camel torture trailed the cart and walked for two hours across the desert. Remarkably we were in good spirits though; pretending it was like the gym and we were paying to exercise, while the free-loading guests enjoyed a leisurely ride and opportunity to sunbathe.
We camped overnight in the desert on some dunes, and had planned to sleep in the open but the ground remained damp from the rains the night before, and the temperature dropped as the cool winds swept across the desert. There was almost a full moon so we enjoyed our
Ah ... look at the comfort!
desert solitude under the moonlight and some local men arrived from nearby to sing songs and play music.
Overall it was still a good experience and we've now fully recovered from any damage done whilst in the saddle, but aren't in any hurry to hop back on a burping, farting, stirrup-less camel any time soon.
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Kids: Make sure you check out the small video we made of our camel ride by clicking the icon at the top of the page. (Sorry it's the wrong way up but you get the idea about how bumpy the ride was!)
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