Friday, November 21, 2008
A Camel, The Thar Desert and Me
I've always wanted to see the desert, feel the fine undulating golden sand as they sift smoothly through the crevices between my fingers.
When I finally had the chance to experience it, I snapped it like a hungry wolf. I signed in for a camel and desert safari, despite several concerns I had about sleeping alone under the stars. When Iarrived in Jaisalmer, a city at the fringes of the Thar Desert, which already borders Pakistan to the west, little did I know I was in for the unexpected, despite all the readings I have done about it.
It took us an hour to drive from Jaisalmer to the stretches of Thar where we passed by herding goats, a deer, and an idyllic queue of wind turbines. I was first treated to a camel ride that took 2 to 3 hours, I can't quite remember for how long as I was giddily swaying on the humpback of my camel. We stopped at the sand dunes where we watched the sun set, gentle winds blowing on my face. After that, we drove back to some "resort" which was really just a cluster of well-maintained thatched stone houses. We were treated to a dinner buffet while a band of local entertainers sang rajasthani songs and a lass danced around a bonfire. quaint really! by "we", I mean my camel, the camel owner and myself.
After dinner, I jumped at the back of a cart being pulled by another camel. I was joined by 3 french people, siblings really, who were very friendly. ben, the eldest, a flight steward, kept inviting me to join them. I was grateful for his friendship, but i am used to my lonely planet sojourns and quite comfortable being alone too. A spanish couple - the lady is from ibiza, and the guy is actually an actor from Madrid who was last seen in a - hold your giddy breath! - Pedro Almodovar movie ("Bad Education" with gael garcia bernal). Tt was exciting!
Upon reaching the site, our beds were queued beside each other. Blankets were in place. They weren't tents. They were just beds! We spread the sheets on the sand and started sharing our life stories (work, itinerary, relationships, etc.). It was also very dark, although the skies were full of stars - but moonless. by 12 midnight, we started to feel how bitingly freezing it was, so we jumped into each of our beds. I was a little worried that the fox i saw earlier would come and attack our backpacks. Not long after, we were "asleep". at about 3 am, I woke up shivering! it was icy!
I peeked from under my sheets. Wow. The moon was up, and from all that darkness, the sky had a clear blue shade as the moon shone brightly over us.
This is one priceless poetic moment i shall never forget.
Not in a long time.