Life In The Desert

Today we had a relaxing morning. Our hotel let us use the room until 3:00 pm when we had to go to the Safari (the perks of traveling in low season). We met up our fellow safari travelers at an office outside the fort with just a daypack with the camera gear, a flashlight and some water.  We were taken in the jeep for about 50 km. out in the Thar Desert to where our camel friends were waiting for us.

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The Thar desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, forms a natural boundary between India and Pakistan. It is the world’s 17th largest desert (Hey! at least its not the 18th largest),  it covers about 320,000 km2 (120,000 sq mi).

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Meet Michael, my camel with swag.

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We rode the camels in the extreme heat of the desert for about 2 hours.  These camels are awesome but don’t exactly offer a comfortable ride. It was very bumpy and we were very sore afterwards but it was well worth it.

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Eitan went above and beyond to show his love for Sarah that he requested a heart shape cloud to be positioned above us.

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Sarah bonding with Michael, they are both slow walkers so they connected almost immediately!

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During our ride we stopped in a desert village of around 200 people. Many kids crowded around us when we arrived and were very excited when the other couple gave them cookies.

The Thar Desert is the most densely populated desert in the world, with a population density of 83 people per km2. About 40% of the total population of Rajasthan live in the Thar Desert. The main occupation of the people is agriculture and animal husbandry.

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They build their walls with a mix of sand, camel poo and water; every year they need to reinforce those walls to keep the houses stable. Thar-Desert-Safari_006

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Their daily living is so basic, it was fascinating to see. We were allowed to get inside the house and see their kitchen and bedroom.

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We were followed most of the day by this adorable baby fox. Btw, the dog is not a stray dog, he is part of the tour and his job here is to protect us from Pakistani terrorists, and other dangerous animals.

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The dunes were finally there! they look close but it takes a while to get there with the turbo speed of the camel.

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We finally entered the sand dunes and arrived at our campsite. It was absolutely stunning with an incredible sunset.

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The guides cooked traditional Indian food and delicious chapati (like Pita bread). By the time the food was ready it was complete darkness, so eating was a little bit of a challenge. Whenever you turned on a flashlight, a million insects will fly into your face, nobody likes moth curry.

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The sky was absolutely incredible to enjoy but the best part was actually the silence. We are so used to sound pollution all the time that we forget how silence “sounds”.  The only sound we could hear was our camels chewing their food once in a while. Those guys regurgitate they food so they are chewing most of the time.

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We enjoyed our night with the Chilean couple, Eduardo and Vale. We took some artsy photos with moving lights (I will post them later).

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Our guides set up these comfy cots on the sand for us to sleep, they were so comfortable! This is the best room we have had in our trip. Nothing beats a night where you are comfortable surrounded by nature.

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We woke up at sunrise and received another delicious fresh meal before heading back on the camels for the ride back.

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This time they let us drive our camels compared to yesterday when we were all connected by a rope.  Eitan loved the freedom of this part, the bond between camel and human. Lets just say Sarah has not mastered the art of camel riding just yet but she got progressively better throughout the journey, the guides were constantly chasing Sarah’s camel to put her back into the road (see video below). Also helpful tip, don’t eat too much before riding a camel as it is a bumpy ride and you feel everything you ate!

And we made it back! props to Adventure Travel Agency for a great safari!

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We were sad to part with our camels but appreciated the fact our hotel kept a room for us to shower in and use until our 7pm train; since their service was the best we have had and we basically used another full day of hotel we ended up paying them 15 extra bucks (the cost of another full night).  We returned to the same restaurant from the other day but this time asked for not spicy and it still had a kick!

Eitan’s hair has gotten massive so he decided its time for the mid trip hair cut.  The haircut cost and extravagant $1 USD (barbershops in the U.S. need to learn from here on how to price their services correctly) and  included a head massage as well as beard trimming… overall the barber did a great job  but they also decided they want to reveal Eitan’s neck to the world and shaved a LOT more hair off the back of his neck…luckily hair grows but Sarah’s panic face when she saw my neck was scary.

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We took a tuk tuk to the train station. This station was cleaner and calmer and the train actually left on time.

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In order to see which one is your train you need to locate your specific train number in this sign. The same train can have multiple cars with different numbers, these usually get separated during the trip so you need to be careful not to just trust the platform #.

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We actually were in the same compartment with the same man we had been during the last train, Its a small India! He was a mechanical officer for the Air Force on a work trip to Jaisalmer. Because of the proximity with India’s best friend, Pakistan, this area feels very militarized; you can hear the fighter jets flying every 5 minutes and you drive past many military bases. We arrived in Jodhpur around midnight and our hotel successfully picked us up (let’s celebrate the small victories).  India is getting too easy!!!.  We arrived at our nicest room yet.  This boutique hotel is inside a Mahal (an old fancy home) and we have an extremely well decorated room (we are taking notes for our future home).  They upgraded us to their nicest room since no one else is staying here right now (low season). And something it includes which always excites us and is hard to find here is that the shower and the toilet are in different sections of the bathroom! I think we like India now.

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Bonus Pic Of The Day: A Dung Beetle, known as rollers, roll dung into round balls, which are used as a food source or brooding chambers. And you want to hear a cool fact?? Dung beetles are currently the only known non-human animal to navigate and orient themselves using the Milky Way. Now, if you are thinking that you couldn’t navigate yourself using the Milky Way, then the only logical conclusion here is that the Dung Beetle is smarter than you….

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