Saturday, April 12, 2014

Camel Riding in Rajasthan

The desert is hot and sandy.

Obviously I knew this when I signed up and paid to spend three days riding a camel in the Thar desert outside of Jaisalmer, India. But I didn’t know what it felt like.

The desert is unrelentingly hot. The sun chases you from every direction and even the breeze is too hot to be refreshing. The heat seeps under your skin and sweat never stops running out of every single pore because at least it can just evaporate and escape to the upper atmosphere.

The desert is sandy. Not in the shovels in a sandbox kind of way, but in the oh my gosh how did I get sand there!?! after a day at the beach kind of way. It coats your feet so completely it makes them look clean. It’s like constantly exfoliating your face every time you try to wipe away the perspiration.

Another thing that probably should have been obvious prior to my grand romantic visions, is how uncomfortable it is to go from walking like a normal human being to sitting on a camel. First of all, camels are wide and since I don’t spend much time straddling things in my everyday life my inner thighs were not pleased about this. Secondly camels walk funny. They move both legs on one side of the body at the same time. So both left legs take a step, then the camel shifts all its weight, and then both right legs take a step. This lurching side to side while also moving forward is not the smoothest ride. Perhaps if it wasn’t already hot and sandy this discomfort could be overlooked.

As Sydney and I lay down to sleep on the sand the first night, we had good reason to be afraid of what it might feel like to get back on a camel the next day, and the day after that. There were a few moments when we questioned our judgment and looked longingly at the group of people who would head back to town in a jeep at dawn.

But it wasn’t as bad as it might have been. You do kind of get used to it. Not that I want to ride a camel for 2-3 hours at a time again right now, but I wouldn’t be completely opposed to doing it somewhere in the far off future. And it was definitely worth going for multiple days. The second and third days felt much more authentic since we were farther away from all the tourists doing “non-touristic” tours where young boys roam the sand dunes selling coca-cola at exorbitant prices to desperate foreigners.

My face is still recovering from a lot of sun, a lot of sunscreen, a lot of sweat, and no place to shower for three days. But I’m happy I went and I have some beautiful pictures show for it.

Also in Rajasthan...

Jaisalmer Fort

Part of the white temple in Jodhpur

Sydney and me with Jodhpur Fort in the background

Flying Fox zipline over the fort at Jodhpur

Zipline goes back and forth over the water

Jodhpur Fort at night


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