Tony’s brother, Ben, and his wife Tracy came to visit us at the end of ’96. We packed up and headed for Rajasthan to do a camel safari. They wanted a real Indian experience so we went on trains, buses, elephants and camels. Jaisalmer was our favourite place:
From my journal: 1 Jan 1997
Jordan in the desert: Pic by Ben Johnson
What a way to spend New Year’s eve; On the cool desert dunes of Rajasthan. We rode our camels for two hours (30 kms) to the dunes, where we set up camp. Amin and his helper were great. Not too uncomfortable getting there but my inner thighs were sore.
The kids went running all over the dunes. Took pictures of the sunset. Had fun racing on the soft sand. The stars were brilliant. Lay on our backs, watching satellites and the seven shooting stars Tony prayed for. It was an amazing world of lights. Tony played the guitar and we worshipped while the camel guides cooked rice and vegies over a little fire. After dinner we sat around the fire and laughed and chatted. Amin made up our thin cotton mattresses on the sand. Wee’d like a camel after holding it in for ages. We lay awake for hours watching the constellation move across the sky. Drifted in and out of sleep the whole night. Crept into Tony’s sleeping bag.
When the moon appeared it was so incredibly bright and beautiful. It was so bright it woke Jordan up. He watched it for a while from his cozy sleeping bag. Then he pointed and whispered “Moom.” I heard something big flying across the dunes. Sounded like a tyrannosaurus. There was also a little goat bleating in a nearby bush.
All woke up early in the morning. Ben pulled his cotton pants out of his sleeping bag. Whole crotch was blown out. He laughed and said, “You thought it was the camels farting all night!” Amin made chai and handed out Parle-G biscuits. After packing up and a light breakfast, we set off on our camels again. By mid-morning, I was in agony and in tears. My bum and legs were burning. My camel man was offended that I found his camel uncomfortable. He informed me that his camel was “the most comfortavle camel in the whole of Rajasthan.” I tried to assure him it was me and not his camel.
Amin took Jordan on his camel and within two minutes he was fast asleep. Stopped in a small village in the middle of the desert to water the camels. The ladies made such a fuss of Jordan; Very keen to know if I was still feeding him. Stopped under a small cluster of trees. We lay around while Amin and his helper made lunch. I was beside myself just thinking about getting back onto the camel. I had cried quietly but solidly for hours. I was in such pain.
We rode on again to Amin’s village. Just before we got there, about twenty children, mainly boys, were waiting to greet us. Someone had told them a little boy was coming and they were frantically looking for him. When they finally saw him on Tony’s back, they clapped with joy. They ran ahead of us shouting, “The boy is coming! The boy is coming!”
Children surrounded us when we got off our camels. Ash and Zoë were wearing little pink sunglasses for the glare and the children thought they were blind. They couldn’t stop touching their blonde hair and white skin. There was an obvious absence of little girls. The women were so naïve and childlike. Wish we could have spent a night or two with them.
Rode to where our jeep was supposed to be waiting. It was nowhere to be seen and we were in the middle of the desert. There was no way I wanted to spend one more minute on my camel. Kept riding until sunset. It was such a relief to see the jeep racing towards us along a sandy village road.
Got back to Hotel Golden City and had a HUGE tandoori chicken dinner; Rs 1,000 later. So nice to have a wash and get into bed. My butt and thighs were so sore. I think I might just walk like John Wayne for the rest of my life. We were on those creatures from sunrise to sunset. I never want to go on one again.