We headed into town today around 9. Stop #1 was this sacred lake where Hindu folks do some sort of ritual bathing. As we were walking to the lake, we went down a street with lots of shops selling touristy junk. What is interesting about this stuff is it is targeted for the Indians who come to town to bathe in the lake or attend the camel fair, not just foreigners. Anyway, shopping was not on Bhivou the tour guide's agenda, but he quickly realized he was going to have a mutiny on his hands with his majority women tour and gave us some shopping time. Miss Betty, you will not be surprised to learn I bought a pink and purple sari!
While a camel-cart ride was scheduled for this afternoon, there were a number of folks who wanted to ride the camels themselves, so we did that this morning. The hardest part is not falling off when he comes up first on his front legs, then on his back ones. But definitely worth the $3.50 it cost for a 20 minute ride (and priceless photo opp).
After the camel cowgirl moment, we were waiting for the guide to come get us, sitting in plastic chairs at a storefront where we paid $1 for a Coke which would normally cost about $0.20. The shop owner wanted to keep his thirsty Americans happy, so he wouldn't let the hawkers selling their purses, jewelry and assorted made-in-China crap across the threshold. So there were about 10 of them lurking outside the door since a group of 40 foreigners makes for an easy target. I said "they look like lions, watching their prey" but Elizabeth from Sausalito came up with a better line, especially for a non-Southern girl when she said "looks more like hunters, sitting in a duck blind!"
We came back to the camp for lunch and a siesta. This reminds me to share more about the food. Most lunches and dinner involve some sort of rice (lunch today had rice with pomegranate seeds, dinner tonight had rice with lemon) along with some sort of chickpea dish that has a heavy sauce to be served on that rice. There is usually a cooked vegetable of some variety, like roasted cauliflower. Most buffet meals also seem to include a potato dish of some sort, a pasta dish and tonight we had fried vegetable egg rolls. All of this is served with delicious naan to complete the "no carb left behind" tour. In Delhi, we had some foods that had a small amount of meat in them, but it was largely vegetarian. Breakfast today at the camp was outstanding. There were apple pancakes, homemade hash browns with onion, scrambled eggs with green onion, boiled eggs, and some kind of muffin that I didn't try. They were making fresh juice from beets, carrots, oranges or apples. My favorite part though is that this place, where we are sleeping in tents and power is only available certain hours, here we have a cappuccino machine!
After taking a break from the heat of the day, we went back to the festival around 3:30for camel cart rides and more shopping.
Then back to the campground for showers, watching some Indian dancing and dinner. As I write this, I'm snuggled up in the tent alongside the hot water bottle which mysteriously got placed in our beds during dinner. I could use that treat at home!
Tomorrow morning we are going to be a bit delayed heading to Jaipur as we need to go by the bank to exchange currency, and they don't open until 10. Bhivou is carrying 180,000 rupees in large and now illegal bills to pay for our entrance to the Taj Mahal and other monuments on the rest of the trip, but the govt spots are definitely not taking the big bills. Individuals are only allowed to exchange R4,000, so each of us will be going into the branch to change some of the group's money. He thinks the bank here in the little town will be smaller and less crowded than the cities. Once that is done, which will likely take more than an hour since it involves filling out a form and giving a copy of your passport, we will head out for the 4 hour ride to Jaipur.
Still having a great time!
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