The Desert Safari near Jaisalmer, India

Desert Safari

I imagined riding a camel would be similar to riding a horse. Camels are a lot taller than horses, but there are some similarities. They way you move on them. You also turn them using the same method of hand control. You squeeze them with your legs to speed them up. You can kick them or use a crop like thing or the reins to get them to move faster. I didn’t do any of these things. I know these things because I asked one of our guides. I am not actually complaining about this either. Camels are a LOT taller than horses! Oh, I admit I did have one stupid second of disappointment when it became obvious I was going to be led by a guide. The entire rest of the time though I was happy about it.

My camel is the brightly decorated one. His name is Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson has bells all over so he jingles when he walks. I asked the guides about camel racing. They all think it is a fine sport, but as you would expect none of these camels are racing camels. 

Here I am on Michael Jackson. It was fun when the camel stood up. If you wonder if I have a different standard for camels than I do for elephants, I don’t think so. The camels are similar to horses from the guide’s perspectives. If you have thoughts to the contrary let me know. Sean is on Rocket. We met a great father and daughter during the safari, Pooja is the daughter. Pooja lives in Pennsylvania. She was so much fun. Pooja is 21 years old. Sean and Pooja really hit it off.


I have layers of clothes on. It was too warm for 15 minutes. The rest of the time all the layers were perfect. I debated about bringing warm gear or not. I was glad for most of the trip I didn’t bring all that cold weather gear, but this night it was cold.

(I am sitting here writing this at breakfast on 12/31). I was really excited when I saw soy milk which meant I could have coffee with soy milk! Yeah! Then I ordered masala tea without milk (actually nahee dhood) instead. Oh yes and make it extra gingery. I like my ginger as hot as Indian people do. This is something I have learned on this trip. I also learned that I do like some spicy in food. I have come to the conclusion that I do not like jalapeños. It is not the heat it is what is used to get that heat.

The way the safari works is that groups of people are brought out on the camels to the dunes successively to watch the sun set. There were 4 groups. We were the first group. At first I wasn’t sure which number group you would want to be, but at the end I realized the first group is the best group to be in.

The guides leave us to go get another group.

Carat, Jim, Pooja, and me

The first group gets pristine dunes to play on and to photograph.

It was fun to run around in the fine sand.

Hi to you, from the desert outside Jaisalmer, India

Then we watched the sunset.


The first group to the dunes is also the first group to leave the dunes. The minute the sun went over the horizon (hmmm, which is technically not correct)… The minute the earth rotated enough that the sun was no longer visible from where we were, just doesn’t have the same ring though. Does it? Anyway, it became cold when the sun vanished.

I was never so glad to see Michael Jackson before, and honey, I am a Michael Jackson fan from way back. 5th grade in fact,: 1,2,3 it’s as easy as A, B, C.. Oh yeah! I even own his greatest hits CD.

Camel feet are cool.

If you are the first to the camels, you are the first to the camp, too. It was a wonderful night, filled with great food, good company, dancing, and singing.

Here are the singers. We were told they sang some songs in Hindi and some songs in Gujarati.

I took a video of them playing. They are giving me their email address so I could send it to them when I get back to the States and have an email connection that will allow me to do that. There was only one problem, they did not know how to write or read Romanized letters (the letters used for the English language). They only knew the Hindi alphabet, or maybe it was Gujarati.

There we met Nellika (I am so sorry if I misspelled that). Nellika is from the Netherlands. She has been on the road for the past 8 months, 6 weeks of that time at the Damodra Desert Safari. Damodra Desert Safari is the outfit we booked our desert safari with. They picked us up at our hotel, took us sightseeing through the desert, provided the guides, camels, and location, then brought us back to their camp where we were spending the night. At the camp were tents, food, and entertainment. Nellika was one of the people at the campsite. She has been working for the past 8 months all over the place in Europe and now here in India. She finds jobs through a site called At businesses post jobs they have. Interested people contact the businesses about the jobs. If hired, it is for a limited time, you receive room and board but no salary or travel fees. Nellika has used this to travel these past 8 months. She was a secretary in the Netherlands and wanted something different. She wanted that something different to include travel, but she coundn’t afford traveling. Now she is traveling and working her way around the globe.

After everyone got there, the dancers began. It was beautiful to watch the native dancing under the stars with live music.

In between the dancers’ numbers there was a man doing acrobatic routines. He began taking mouthfuls of kerosene and breathing fore. It was spectacular and difficult to watch at the same time.

Spectacular… But the chemist/biologist side of my brain doesn’t sleep. I kept saying things like, “That is so carcinogenic.”

I felt conflicted, because here someone is giving a bit of them self (literally and figuratively) for your entertainment, but what they are doing is harmful to their health.

When the dancers came back out, they asked people from the audience to dance with them. I got up. What do you know so did Sean. Good for him.

Sean has had a persistent cough. One of the staff made him a local cough remedy that had a little rum. Sean drank it over the course of the evening, and did cough a lot less. He was a bit crispy from it, but very, very funny. I went to bed on that note. Sean stayed up and hung out with Pooja.

It was cold in the desert. I wore every article of clothing I had with me to sleep that night. Most of my clothes were back at 1st Gate, the homestay we were going backp to in Jaisalmer. As I lay snuggled between Sean and Jim in our tent, I realized this was as close to a scene from Arabian Nights as I was likely to ever get.

Check out part one here and two here.

The Road to the Indian Desert Safari

Indian Desert Safari

We are driving to an Indian desert safari for the night. Jaisalmer is surrounded by little villages. Some of the villages have people in them and some do not. Some are crumbling, and some have been fixed up. The first village we went to was not welcoming. The adults hid and the kids followed us around asking for money. These villages probably get tired of tourists showing up. They are very small, more like collections of a few houses with a wall around the complex.

This is a view in so you get the idea of what I mean about the structure of the village. This is the traditional style house in this area.

Cricket! This is a cricket obsessed country.

We saw more and more goats. Some were unattended and some, like these, had a shepherd with them. We were picked up at our hotel by a driver in a jeep. There was another group, a father and his daughter, already in the jeep. Their names were Carat and Pooja. We lucked out they were Indians from American. Lucked out because we hit it off right away, and Carat spoke Hindu and perfect English.

The experience in this village was completely different. The woman in pink looked over the edge and waved us in to the village. When she caught my eye she said, “Lady you come in, please.”

Look at that roof. Perhaps this is the type of village the man who wants to come work in American is from. Actually it must be a village similar to this one. At least these were the only type of villages I saw surrounding Jaisalmer.

The group of women and kids who invited us in. They were all warm and welcoming. They invited us through an entrance into a courtyard with a few buildings in the courtyard.

Sean loves kids and animals. They are drying clothes in the sun, check out the solar panel.

The two baby goats were being kept under the domes structure, penned in.

The bangles from elbow to shoulder mean these women are married. Years ago ivory was used for this, now the bangles are made from plastic. We just started seeing the bangles in Udaipur, but only occasionally. They are more common in the villages outside Jaisalmer.

I asked the woman in green where she cooked. She brought me into her house to see this. It was not smoky smelling inside like you might think it would be.

Many times kids have asked us to take their photo so they can look at the image. This is taken inside the house, note the floor, walls, roof, and shelving.

This is used to grind grain and beans like dal. Indian people use a lot of different grains and even some beans in their breads and crackers. Many of their breads are unleavened so gluten content is not an issue. (Yeast breads rise better when the gluten content is high. Gluten is naturally found in wheat and some other grains.)

Here is a nice example of a nose ring. We have not seen them very often. They have ranged from small hoops to huge hoops. They are more common if I include studs. Here I just mean actual rings.

Here is the roof of their house.

Then we were driven to this “lake”. The lake was surrounding by funky unnatural piles of dried mud. “Really. Why are we here?” All the Americans wanted to know. This small open body of water is used as the water source for 15 or 16 villages. The water is sucked into the blue water tank, then it is driven to the village. The piles were from dredging to make the lake.

We would drive a while through the desert landscape, then all of the sudden something would be up ahead.

Here is a fort that is being reconstructed so it is more interesting at a distance. There were peacocks EVERYWHERE!!!

India - Secular Homeschooling

India - Secular Homeschooling

The fort is being reconstructed in what looks like the crumbling ruins of a village.

This was lying on the ground.

Jim and Carat wandered off, and I handed candy out to local kids who showed up asking us for rupees.

How did they live? Why did they leave this village? What would it be like to have so few people in your life? But to know them so well?  Have you ever heard the story of how Alexander the Greek, LOL, met Roxanne? The tribal woman that he married. I wonder if she came from a village like this, except one that was in the mountains. A town filled with love, and life, and dancing, and brilliant colors; now filled with peacocks, dust, and solitude.

Check out part one here and part three here.