My god the indian sleeper busses....i had my own really cool compartment we could just peep out to chat then pull back the glass window and curtains to sleep, however the bus drove at speeds im not used to going on land! The bad condition of the road and driving about 150 miles and hour ment i spent more time in the air than on the bed, with the occasional slamming on the brakes making me fly over to one corner of the tiny compartment. If i had had a vallium or two and something to strap me to the bed so i cant fly up in the air i might have slept very well indeed! I dont think i slept a wink but no worries we arrived in one piece and thats the most important thing!
We were staying with a couchsurfer for the next day or two, he took us to his guesthouse that was in the middle of Jasailmer fort. Wow so lovely! The fort is built with kind of a yellow stone and any new construction near it must be in the same style and stone.
Jasailmer seemed to be a very touristy place, the type of tourists with the huge zoom lens camera hanging around their neck, onto their Ralf Lauren T-shirt, kacki coloured shorts, white socks with sandles and absolutely no idea they were being totally ripped off! This made the town quite expensive and constant 'want something.....one hundred rupies only.....lady...100....lady, lady...100....ok 80 rupies....' and this was from if you just walk past and dont even glance their direction! But its not that bad, its easy enough to ignore but its not the india that i really like. When you go to parts that arent so used to tourists the people are more shy and more amazed to see a white person than thinking about a white person as a way to get money. I didnt feel a lot of love for this place, i think the character has been destroyed by tourism and the locals there are die-hard sellers its hard just to have a friendly chat without 5 minutes later their shop being brought into the subject.
Anyway despite that we did the most touristy of things to do here which is taking camels into the desert and sleeping there for a night! With the group of us all still together from shooting the movie this would be good fun. We got up early and set off on a jeep for about an hour into the desert until we met our camels. It was not desert like i had imagined, more barron land with a few bushes and wiry plants and tumble-weeds blowing around! But thank god not too hot as there was a nice wind blowing.
Some of the camels were in a bit of a sorry state, one had paralysis down one side of its face and another a big tumour hanging out of its cheek. I dunno its not the thing for me riding on a camel but as ive never even been on a horse sure why not give it a go! It wasnt too bad at all to steer the camels this was going to be fine!
After an hour or two we stopped under a shady tree, and the local guys that owned the camels cooked us a nice lunch, curry, chappatis and fresh papaya, we put on some music and chilled out under the tree to pass the time while the day was at its hottest. I stepped out from the shade and my god it was hot!
After that it was back on the camels again for another hour before stopping at a really remote village. It was crazy that people could live here. It looked like a half finished construction site, the houses were rectangular and in the same colour stone as the sand. There was nothing else in the villages not even a tree and the wind swept through it picking up dust and blowing tumble weeds around it. From a distance the villages look like abondoned houses but when you come closer the people emerge!
The villagers owned a camel and when it saw our camels it broke free and started running away! The villagers and our camel guys started fighting! We had no idea really what was going on! The next minute the village kids started grabbing the bags off our shoulders and trying to take anything they could pull from us! We were trying to walk away the best we could but we'd left our shoes on the camels then they started throwing stones! Anyway after all that excitment it was back on the camels again for another hour or two until we reached supercool sanddunes where we would be sleeping. By this stage my legs and ass were so sore it took me ages before i could walk properly after getting off the camel. It was funny but very painfull! Imagine sitting on a hard seat, your legs spread almost 180 degrees and hanging down loose, bouncing up and down with the camel ... for about 6 hours.
It was worth the pain though! When we arrived there was a guy waiting there with cold beer and cocacola he said it takes him an hour and a half to walk here from his village. I remember someone telling me they bought 2 cocacola from a guy like this in the desert, they drank one and saved one for the next day, and the next day when they got up the guy was still there, he said he was waiting for the empty bottle! When i heard this first i thought it was very funny but now im realising more and more everyday how poor people are and the lengths they go to.
We had travelled quite far into the desert just 30k from the Pakistan border. The camel minder guys started making dinner while we cracked open the wine and put some music on with an mp3 speaker. There was absoltuely no other sound around but us. The sunset was lovely the sand turned from yellow, to pink then to grey. After the sunset it got dark pretty quick and a little chilly but really nothing like my bedroom back home!
We sat and ate and drank and listened to the music until we noticed one girl, Lydie was missing. It started as just a few of us walking around shouting her name and when there was no sign after a few minutes we started getting worried! We stood on top of a big sanddune waving the light on our mobile phones, shouting her name, the boys minding the camels made a big fire on top of the dune, everyone was going mad looking for Lydie, running up and down the dunes grabbing anything we could set on fire, frantically running around hoping to hear her shout. Her phone had gone dead and she had no shoes with her. After about 3 hours we got a call that she had made it to a village 7 kilometers away!! Some of the guys jumped on camels and eventually found her. Wow it was a crazy night, after we found her we were all too tired to do much else than sleep! She had lost the cap covering the lens of her camera and had gone to look for it ....and in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep i felt something hard under my head and sure wasnt it the cap from her camera it was exactly where she had been sitting before going off to take a picture! Again never a dull moment in india!
I woke up many times during the night, i couldnt sleep. It was so so quiet, not even the plushest hotel room would be so quiet and the sky was amazing... just stars! Even the dark spots between stars was filled with more tiny stars i just lay back staring at the sky until it started to get bright.
We had breakfast of omlette, chai, biscuits and fruit...really not bad for the middle of nowhere! Back onto the camels it was and the day had started to get very hot. By 10am it was roasting, there was no cool wind today. I was getting used to riding the camel and i could go a bit faster on it. This ment more pain on my ass as i was bouncing up and down harder, but it also ment getting there faster to end this pain! Unfortunately after a few hours i just couldnt take it anymore and through half crying half laughing i shouted at the guy 'i need to get off the camel please quick!!!' I hopped off and the guide hopped on, he quickly jogged ahead with the camel before i had a chance to get my bottle of water! It was so hard to walk, the easiest way was to take big strides with my legs wide apart just as wide as when i was sitting on the camel...yes it would have looked very funny but i just couldnt walk properly for a while!
Wow SO SO hot about 40 degees, the ground was dry, rock hard and full of cracks, you could see the air waving above the ground. I felt so thirsty i had no saliva left in my mouth and the sun was heavy, heavy on my head, i felt like lying down and giving up...ha ha how dramatic! At the time it was not fun! I eventually made it to the tree that we were stopping to have lunch and collapsed in the shade. I felt very sick, i couldnt eat a thing. I think i had a bit of sunstroke. A lot of the group were feeling they had enough of the camel too so thank god we managed to get picked up a few hours later at this lunch place! Im not sure i could have made it another 3 hours walking in the desert its just not right for an irish person!!