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Clare’s Travel Diary

Monday, 25 Feb 2008

Location: Pushkar, Rajasthan, India

MapWe leave Pushkar tomorrow to head north to the hills, we were going to go to Jaisalmer further into the desert but its hotting up here and the locals are saying the temperature is going to increase by about 10 degrees in the the next 2 weeks. We've had a great time here though, relaxing, walking and camping.

The first couple days Lizzie was unwell and needed to take it a bit easy but she soon shook off the sickness and we were planning our next adventure - a camping trip into the hills. We'd been wondering how we could get away from the tourist towns a bit and weren't really up for a camel safari having heard some not so good things about them so we got chatting to some Danish people staying at our guest house and decided to replicate a trip they had done a few days previous.

We rented scooters, bought blankets and provisions and headed into the hills... We went to a Shiva temple about 8kms out of town and after looking around the temple and chatting with limited language capabilities on both sides to the Chai man and a Sadhu, indicated that we wanted to camp in the hills above the temple. We obviously made ourselves understood as we bought some wood from them and the Sadhu escorted us up the dry river bed to find a spot to camp. We tramped around a bit and spied a big sand dune which after crawling up discovered it was the edge of a valley surrounded by hills - sort of a natural amphitheatre. Perfect! To top it all off at the top of the dune there was a old Goatherder called Ganesh who chatted away to us totally unconcerned that we couldn't follow him and helped us carry our stuff to our spot. The Sadhu and Ganesh chatted for a while and then he headed off to his herd to bring us back some fresh Goatsmilk. We did the only diplomatic thing and invited him to dinner!

We camped up there for two nights, cooking on a fire, sleeping on our blankets under the stars and passing the next day following the shade around a shrubby outcrop - it was great, the moon was so bright we barely needed torches and it was wonderful to be away from all the noises of Indian towns and hubbub of such a massive population. Ganesh dropped by every now and then with his little herd of Goats to check we were okay and the language barrier didn't ever seem to be too much of a problem. We cooked and shared our food with him and he brought us milk. The Chai man walked up to camp both mornings to wake us at dawn, get the fire going and make us fresh Chai, so we shared our breakfast with him, pineapple and bread! It felt like a really genuine experience of meeting nice, honest people who were sharing what they had and receiving in return.

The landscape was stark but beautiful and we had the feeling that people like Ganesh had been living in the hills herding and living like this for thousands of years. The whole experience refreshed us for getting back into tourist India and we drove back to Pushkar happier and wiser.