Our next stop was Jaisalmer, another fortress-town in the western desert. Here things were more “touristy”. The inside of the ancient fort was packed with rooftop restaurants and vendors selling handicrafts. We quickly discovered that the places to eat that were patronized by Indians served better and more authentic food. Jaisalmer was cold and windy. Eric bought a large woolen scarf and wore it over his head in a hood like the locals. The guesthouse operator talked us into a two-day camel trek in the desert. At first we weren't very keen on the idea, but eventually we decided to give it a try.
We left early in the morning and drove out into the desert. After about half an hour our jeep pulled over by the side of the road and we climbed out to meet our guides and their three camels. Eric was given the largest male, “Raj”, and Anne received the smaller male. The camels were kind of cute. Although they didn't smell very good, they were quite patient and even-tempered. We only traveled a short distance before stopping three hours for lunch. Later in the afternoon we stopped at a “traditional” village to water the camels. Children ran out screaming for presents and the adults only wanted us to give them our rings, cameras, glasses or money. After two or three of these, we decided to avoid the villages altogether.
Toward the end of the first day we reached a set of sand dunes where we planned to camp. A cold, strong wind came up, blowing sand everywhere. We huddled behind a bush to cook dinner over a small fire of scavenged twigs. When the wind died down we moved onto the dunes to prepare a spot to sleep. We crawled under a pile of smelly camel blankets, grateful that the day was over. Soon it turned out that our spot was exposed to the cold wind blowing under our covers. We climbed out to move to another, more sheltered spot, kicking the sand to make a flat area to put the blankets. In the night it started to rain, but we just pulled the covers over our heads and tried to ignore it. In the morning the wind still blew and the sky was overcast. We shivered in our damp clothes. Riding the camels became very uncomfortable. Their loping gait makes it difficult to sit without getting a backache. Finally, our feet became so cold that we dismounted and walked behind camels, stomping our feet to ward off the cold and bring back blood circulation. We stopped for lunch behind a bush in the blowing sand, then pushed on to the pick-up point, where we waited more than an hour in the wind for our ride back into town.