Camels in Khuri

Trip Start Jan 12, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Rob and Anjali now drive 1 hour southwest towards the Pakistan border to the sand dune village of Khuri.

Khuri curry
Our tour of Rajasthan included a "camel safari" but we really didn't know what to expect. Unlike full safaris over several days in the desert, we knew ours was more like a camel ride since we wouldn't be tenting. Yet they didn't quite promise us a hotel
either. So with our expectations low, we made our way our "resort"--a simple place with a walled-in courtyard surrounded by round mud and thatch huts. We arrived in the blazing heat but took some shelter under a thatch awning over our curry and desert bean
lunch. Yet as the afternoon progressed it kept getting hotter and hotter and our little hut was soon stifling. Though unable to nap, we continued to put off the camel safari until the sun got at least a bit lower. Finally by 4:00pm, with no sign of cooling
weather, we decided to get our wimpy butts out into the open desert.

Camel ride
Anjali was already a pro at camel riding having done it in Egypt, but this was Rob's first time. It was quite enjoyable, really. Despite the camels' reputation for being nasty creatures who spit and bite, these ones were well behaved although Rob's(perhaps appropriately) was abundantly flatulent. From our high vantage point we were able to see a fair bit of desert wildlife, including wild deer, fox, snakes and lizards.

The two desert villages we saw were extremely poor. People here harvested a few rare desert crops like desert beans and small plots of maize. But generally, most people raised animals: goats, sheep and donkeys and of course, camels. Our guides were two local boys who weren't allowed to take us into their village.
But they did show us the tiny local well, covered by a single rock, that supplied fresh water to about 10,000 villagers from miles around.

The dunes
The highlight of the ride was a sunset ride up into the big dunes, where we suddenly saw countless camels and tourists convering from all directions. This was apparently THE spot to view the sunset. Yet despite the company, it was still quite peaceful and intensely beautiful to watch the sun fall behind the dunes. In an odd way, so was the scene that followed: hundreds of camels pouring back down the dunes at once, most of them headed to the tourist buses parked at the highway near Khuri village.

Nightly entertainment
In the middle of nowhere, we weren't expecting much entertainment, but our night here ended up being much more lively than in the cities. It started with a musical troupe that arrived at our resort courtyard to entertain the dozen tourists who were staying there. Two young Rajasthani boys particularly liked Rob and after wrapping a big turban on his head kept pulling him up to dance by the night fire. We had a great time chatting with a small group of tourists from the UK and Holland. A couple of their drivers, however, liked their whiskey and beer a little too much. This
was fun at first as they kept breaking into slurred stories and forgot the plots halfway through. Then they'd just laugh and yell "ANJALI!" at the top of their lungs, then praise her many great qualities and attribute them all to her Indian heritage.

But after hours of telling us how all the Indian drivers were inseparable brothers and that everyone on earth was part of the same great "family", the inevitable happened: Family Feud. Suddenly, the tide had turned and peace and love gave way to taunts and
curses between two drivers. The resort staff had to come tell both to simmer down and made one driver sit sulking in the corner of the courtyard. It was our cue to go
to bed...

Sleeping Under the Stars
While resting comfortably in the dunes, Anjali felt she'd rather sleep in the open air, than in our stifling hut where all kinds of critters were rustling in the thatch above. So we asked to have our beds pulled into the courtyard. Soon everyone followed
suit and we were all looking up at the amazing starlit skies. It was almost peaceful were it not for the baying of donkeys, the barking of watch dogs, and the sound of vomiting coming from the corner bathrooms. But even these sounds disappeared and we woke up to a beautiful red glow in the east...
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