Monday, February 18, 2008

Jaisalmer and other things we shouldn't be wearing or doing

Jaisalmer, two weeks in. Beautiful honey-coloured city in the desert, big central fort with a separate half-city happening inside. One we're... destroying every minute we're here.

The Jaisalmer fort is one of the top 100 most at-risk archeological sites in the world. The sewage system was enough to serve the population that inhabited it for hundreds of years, but not enough to sustain the water glut of the tens of thousands of tourists who've snaked through it in the last half-century. The fort is slowly sinking into the desert as the pipes leak out into the base and destroy the foundation. Three major buildings have collapsed since 1990. This place is in serious trouble.

... all of which we did not know when we booked our hotel inside its walls, overlooking its main gate at the town whose livelihood and heritage we're helping to slowly destroy. In case it's not obvious, I'm not feeling great about it.

Especially since Jaisalmer is so lovely. Golden yellow sandstone, everything, narrow alleys, carved balconies. Very friendly people, (relatively) relaxed markets.

And, other than the fort, the thing most tourists come here for: camels.

Before you get all judgmental on us for doing something so touristy... well, actually, I don't have a good defense at all. We're taking a camel trek here. (E. again points out that I'm refusing to use the word 'safari,' and she is right.) We were going to do it in Bikaner, but found an arrangement here that makes more sense for us, plus we hear it's better here anyway. So at 6.30am tomorrow we'll be taking our jeep out to get our camels with the four other tourists we'll be spending the next two days with. We'll spend the whole of tomorrow riding our camels through the Thar desert, stopping in a few places, and then camp out on the dunes, and ride back the next day (we're told this will involve galloping... I'm excited, my spine is not). We'll be crashing at another budget hotel that night after we get back to the city around 6-7pm, and then at 6am the next day, beginning our day-long journey to Chandigarh to meet S. and his family. We're both excited to see him, and them, and are hoping very much that we don't still smell like camel. Which we almost certainly will.

Should we tell you about the pants? Probably not, I'm sure they'll be in enough photos before the end of things. If you really want to see an accurate sample in the meantime, google image search "Aladdin."

We may or may not be able to post again before Chandigarh (where we will be arriving on the 22nd). I'm sure by then we'll have some interesting stories.

Be good.


Anonymous said...

Watch out for those camels .... they spit!
Sounds like a blast!
Have fun!
Look forward to hearing about your "safari" (there you go Emma).
Love Mom & Dad

Sumantra said...

take non-drowsy gravol prior to camel ride .... or prepare for REALLY bad motion sickness

Sumantra said...
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