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Pushkar to Jodhpur
It must have been the heat of the sun. Why else would I have thought a five-day camel safari was a good idea! Our romantic illusions were shattered within a few hours by the scorching heat and uncomfortable saddles. We nearly turned back after day one but optimistically hoped for a new and improved day two. It was new but certainly not improved. Just when we thought it impossible, it turned out to be hotter and more painful than the first day. Getting on a packed, rickety bus at 6 o'clock the next morning seemed like pure luxury.
Our stay in Pushkar was wonderful, it was the break that we needed. At only £2.50 a night, our hotel was cheap as well as relaxing. It even had a pool, which was great to unwind by. There were no rickshaws cluttering the streets and shops where you could actually browse without harassment were in abundance. Pushkar is totally geared towards the back packer, selling western chocolate bars and music. The bookshop even sold toilet paper! However, this did not spoil the charm of this small town. Pushkar provided the perfect rest stop from the chaotic cities that preceded it.
It was in Pushkar's atmosphere of relaxation and calm that the camel safari was hesitantly booked. The first morning of our safari adventure was pleasurable. The weather was agreeable and the camels were exciting. As we rode through the villages, all the children came running out, waving and shouting. However, the novelty of being on camel-back soon wore off when the temperature rose in the afternoon to unbearable extremes. We retired to the camel cart which was comfortable at first, but that soon changed.
As we neared the end of a long road a very excited farmer came running out and told us to stop because we were about to trample on his field! In true Indian style, at the end of the road, somebody had decided to build a farm. So, a long detour commenced on a rocky path not designed for camel carts. We spent nearly three hours being thrown about; bumped and jostled as we clung on for dear life.
Stopping for the night, bruised and battered, was some relief, but our bed was a blanket on the ground under the stars. In fear of the wild dogs, spiders and giant ants that were all around, I hardly slept a wink. We were up with the sun the next day and rode our camels for a few hours before succumbing to the pain and heat. Camels are extremely uncomfortable to ride; your spine and bottom feel like they have been attacked with a hammer, and again we spent most of the day on the camel cart.
After another diversion due to a dug up road, we felt we were never going to get anywhere. Jon was not feeling well so when our guide told us we were approaching a town, we knew this was our chance to escape. We had to weigh up our options, three more excruciating days on the camel or a two-hour bus journey to Jodphur. The latter won! Enquiries were made; we had just missed the last bus so we stopped in a small village for the night where the bus would pick us up at 6.ooam the next morning. Phew!
Within minutes of our arrival in the village we were surrounded by hundreds of children. In order to let us have some peace from the crowds they opened up the local schoolyard where we set up camp for the night. The next morning we were woken up to find thirty children peering over the wall watching and discussing our every movement.
The bus finally arrived and our guide made sure we had seats in the front with the driver so our bags would be safe. However, on an Indian bus it's not always best to sit at the front as it can scare you half to death! Going at least sixty miles an hour down little bumpy, gravel paths expecting all other traffic to get out of their way and causing many near collisions, the buses are the Kings of the road.
Somehow we managed to arrive alive, it was such a relief to see the sea of blue houses that signified our arrival in Jodhpur. We spent the next few days recovering from our various ailments before moving on. It is actually quite humorous to look back on but even now we still cringe at the sight of a camel!