My life is a fairytale, everything is going my way. I love being here and love India! This past weekend was a weekend that will never be forgotten, in general this trip will never be forgotten, but I do think that this will be one of the major highlights. I do say that every week though, life here just keeps getting better!
This weekend was a long weekend so we decided to hit the road for an extra long journey to Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer is known for its camel safaris and is located 13 hours away by bus. We decided to save some money and take the overnight bus without air-conditioning in the sleepers.
13 hours.... is a long freaking time to be on a bus....
When you are in a compartment that doesn't close, that is really disgusting, without blankets and freezing it seems even longer. The beginning was fine... I just closed the curtains in my section and had little privacy but was still able to get some work done for the book report that was going to be due on Monday.... But soon the bus was on a highway, and the wind became cooler and cooler. Without blankets I was already chilly, but then every time we would go over a bump on the road the window in my compartment would fly open and I would be woken up by a blanket of freezing cold desert air blasting me in the face and a loud bang as the window swung open, needless to say I didn't get much sleep that night, until I c limbed into Anna and Megan's two person area where we spooned until 6:30am when we finally arrived in Jaisalmer.
Its times like this bus ride that you once again have to say.... "Oh India!"
After getting off of the bus we headed to the fort where we had a wonderful view of the city and ate a heavy breakfast. We had some time to kill before our next bus would leave at 1pm so we went shopping around town and found several cool little shops including: a store selling marijuana, several leather stores, and a khadi shop.
For those who don't know what khadi is: khadi is hand spun cotton, always made locally. It is a Gandhian thing, Gandhi believed we should all spin our own cotton and if we are unable to do so then we should buy cotton that is spun locally because that would relieve us from the dependence of buying it and having to be dependent on others.
I bought a blanket.... for the ride home, figured I could spare a couple of dollars so that I could sleep well the next night.It is a beautiful tie-dye blanket with a black Hindu design.
After exploring the town we headed to the bus station to take the next bus to the village, Khuri, where we would embark on our camel safari.
This was even more interesting than the last bus ride.... the bus was supposed to leave at 1. We arrived at 12:30 hoping to get some seats, good thing we arrived then, the bus was packed, we didn't even have seats arriving that early... But the bus didn't leave
1:15...people are still cramming on.... three people for every two seats, and people sitting on the heads of the seats.... standing in the aisles... max capacity.... plus 30
1:30? Still people are filing on, we are calling the other group members who are at another bus station waiting, to get on our bus, and tell them to shove themselves on the bus because the next bus doesn't leave until the next day at 10am
but then the bus finally pulls out of the parking lot.... turns out we have stops to make besides the one that will pick up our friends... by the time we get our friends people are sitting on the roof of the van. It was crazy.
I have never been so jam-packed in a bus before. It was so incredibly hot being that we were in the Thar desert in the middle of the day in a bus full of sweaty strangers.
After making it to the desert our camel safari leader came to pick us up and get us ready for our amazing experience.
It was amazing we got on the camels and headed towards a village where we got to explore and look inside some of the huts, afterwards I watched one of the camel safari helpers milk a goat, putting its milk in his used water bottle which would later be used for our chai at dinner.
The sand dunes were beautiful! I couldn't believe how soft the sand was, it was the most amazing feeling to stick your feet into the sand. It was even more amazing at night once the sand had cooled, and it was nice and cool on your body, but once you dug your feet deep into the sand the days warmth could be felt.
After riding the camels for a couple of hours we stopped at the top of a sand dune watched the sunset and began to set up camp. By camp I mean we started a fire and put blankets on the sand dunes because we were sleeping directly under the stars with no cover. We sat around the dunes drinking wine and Indian homemade sugarcane vodka while cooking dinner. After dinner we played hide and seek in the dunes, which is harder than one might think. The sand looks even in the beautiful midnight sky. But one is fooled by the deep cliffs of soft sand that are invisible in the darkness.
When running straight you might fall suddenly down the plateau of soft sand and possibly find a person hiding in the curved hideout
It was so much fun, and we played until our exhausted bodies couldn't take it anymore. We were exhausted from the long day and fell asleep fast under the white light of the moon.
The next morning we woke up to watch the sunrise together before eating breakfast and heading back home. The safari was amazing, it was short, but considering how painful it is to ride on a camel for any amount of time.
Before going home we had a taste of some camel milk ice cream and tried to visit some of the famous haveli's around town.
We caught the bus back to Jaisalmer and ate lunch, did a little bit of shopping before heading back to Jaipur once again embarking on a 13 hour bus ride.
After getting back to Jaipur we celebrated Megan's birthday and Dashara with our family.
We got home showered, bought a cake, went our for lunch, studied and then came home to the puja in our house. (PUJA: prayer) Puja in our house was bigger then ever before, we had over 30 people in the house sitting in our living room listening to the priests chant and play music while they sang prayer. After 3 hours of puja we ate dinner and went to Mela, mela is when a huge statue of ravana (god) is set on fire along with tons of fireworks. It is said that burning these statues is to relieve you from your anger and cleanse you of fear. It was amazing to watch, the statue was several stories high and burnt to the ground really fast. It was incredibly dangerous but also very fascinating.
I leave for my internship Wednesday morning and am very excited. my internship is in Udiapur and I will be working with Sadhna. I already put up the website but I will put it up once more just incase:
I found out a little bit about my host family. I have only a host mom and dad this time. The host mom works for the government on something similar to a city council in the United States, and the father owns his own marble construction company. I am very excited to meet them, I was told they live a very affluent posh lifestyle so it should be very different from what I am currently experiencing.
I am glad there are no children for the sole reason that I can't get anything done unless I have some time to myself which was somewhat impossible with two children in the house here.
More after I arrive.