If I was going to live in India, I would choose the desert. The air is clean, there is way less garbage, and the stars are beautiful at night.
We had a six hour drive from Bikaner to the desert, so we popped motion sickness pills to make sure we’d survive. I love how they knock you out. I opened my eyes at one point to see a black camel wandering in front of the car (is that bad luck?). Later I saw sand creeping onto the road. And then we were there!
We unloaded our gear into a big tent with its own bathroom, and then were left in the care of our camel guides. The four boys were between the ages of nine and 11.
It made us think twice that we were setting off into the desert with children no older than our own. They later told us that this was the first time that two of them had guided tourists.
As it was, the most dangerous part was getting on and off the camel. If you leaned the wrong way you were doomed to fall off when the animal got up and down. Thankfully camels are less bumpy than horses when they get up speed, so falling off while riding is less likely (although probably not impossible!)
We road the camels two kilometres across some sand dunes to a village where two of the boys lived. All of the children came out waving to Sophie and Claire, and wanted to show them their goats.
We poked around the village and watched women carry firewood on their heads and retrieve water from a well by lowering canisters on a rope. We then headed off towards the dunes to watch the sunset.
We found a quiet place to stop, and all of the kids (guides included) had fun running and jumping down the dunes.
The sun was just setting with a brilliant orange glow when the unmistakable sound of two jeeps broke the peacefulness. Out of all the places to pick, they headed straight to our spot and I could see the boys a little fearful for the animals.
The jeeps spun themselves around in doughnuts. Then one vehicle became stuck in the sand about 50 feet away.
We watched them struggle with it for a while, feeling no need to help out (a fine level of jackassmanship said Al). The driver kept his back to us the whole time while looking sheepish. Karma.
Back at the desert camp we watched and listened to traditional Rajasthani folk music and dancing. The belly dancers had all of the female guests shaking their hips around the fire. No, the photos of me will not be published online!