Surreal does not even begin to describe the experience of mounting a camel and riding into undulating sand-dunes to spend a night under the stars in the middle of a desert. It’s something everyone should probably do in their lives, at least once. And here’s how it happened…
First up, it was a choice of camels in a range of stylish colours. Next was to make it actually up onto the camel. This requires a special balancing act of leaning as far back at possible as the spindly-legged creatures raise themselves off the ground. In eager anticipation of our camel ride, Ush and H-J had rushed off the previous day to a local Jaisalmer tailor to make sure that they were appropriately attired in flowing gear that would provide photos a-la- the Sex in the City movie where the girls go camel riding!
Dan, Dan, Dan of the Desert (to the tune of George of the Jungle) was also attired in proper sand dwelling head gear thanks to his mate in Jaisalmer. H-J’s camel, randomly enough, was named Aloo – an Indian word for potato! How apt that her camel should be named after a food. And with that, it was off into the heart of the desert.
Having waited until the hottest part of the day was over to begin our ride, the sun began to set over our little convoy of camels providing the kind of scenes that feel straight from a fairytale. After an hour and a half ride, we arrived at what was to be our accommodation for the night, a flat patch of sand in amongst large, beautiful sand dunes. We shakily dismounted our camels and ran around excitedly inspecting our new home and drinking well earned beers! Yes, even here in the middle of the desert our guides had thoughtfully planned to bring beer for us to buy at an exorbitant rate! Excellent! Beds for the night were quickly ‘baggsed’ and then it was off to have a look around before night set in completely. The middle of the desert seemed like the appropriate place to have a camp fire so Dan was off to gather as much dry material as he could find. The rest of the crew seemed to think that finding fuel for a bonfire in the sand dunes was a bit of a pointless task in the desert…but no one complained when Dan’s efforts paid off and we were all rewarded with a small but toasty fire!
Chirag and Dan had thankfully purchased a decent amount of fireworks the day prior in between planning their outfits and exploring Jaisalmer. Now seemed like an excellent time to make beautiful, big explosions – the wide open desert skies provided an unreal backdrop! Dan had it all planned! When the fire flickered to its grave and the fireworks were all exploded, it was time to settle down to dinner, desert styles. Out of nowhere came our guides with all manner of curries and carbs.
And, being that it was dark and, well, we had exhausted all avenues of entertainment by this stage, it was off to bed to sleep under the expanse of stars. Unfortunately for H-J the next morning she was told that the stars were at their most spectacular somewhere in the middle of the night, when she was clearly fast asleep. Everyone else managed to catch it though!
Lying in bed waiting to fall asleep provided ample time to reflect on the latest Life Lessons from India (sounds like a book title…any buyers? Haha):
1. Always bring more fireworks than you think you need;
2. That when you think you’ve booked desert dancers to entertain you in the darkening desert, double check that your guide doesn’t take “Yes, we’d love dancers to entertain us in the darkening desert” as “Maybe, well get back to you”. Sigh…
3. That camel riding can cause chafing of an extreme nature;
4. and, that, NO, you haven’t been bitten by a desert scorpion while squatting, its just your own pee stinging like a bitch on the way over raw flesh;
5. Bring extra money for desert beers 🙂
Another day down in India!