Sunday, October 23, 2011

India




India. The last leg of the adventure. It's completely surreal that I'm in India and this is the end of my international travels. There's a lot of now what? and what next? swirling through my head. I'm trying to keep focused and grounded in being in India, but honestly I'm failing a lot, with my head in the clouds more then not.
Regardless of my neurotic obsessions India has been great thus far. I have another good tour group, though, strangely enough mostly everyone is starting a long duration of travel, leaving me feeling like the jaded traveler a bit. We started in Delhi, which is another big, busy, dirty city. The only thing noteworthy here is the traffic and that they separate men and women in the metro. To get from the hotel to the train station, a mere 12 km, took 2 hours! We nearly missed our train and had to scramble to get the necessary snacks and water a 20 hour train ride requires. Luckily we made it and journeyed on to Jaisalmer, which isn't far from Pakistan. Jaisalmer is known as the golden city because it is made from a yellow sand stone. While here we did a camel safari in the desert and camped. I liked the safari, but it was very different from the ones I did in Morocco and Jordan, where we actually camped, not the deluxe luxury tents we had here. Got to ride a 2 hump camel, which I shared with a girl from Scotland who has never even ridden a horse! Poor thing was completely freaked out! The camel ride was nice and the sunset lovely. After dinner we had a cultural performance of music and dancing, which was very fun, especially when they dragged us all to dance with them at the end. Interestingly enough, there is a caste of Hindi people where it is acceptable for men to dress as women during dance performances. Who would have thought the Hindi's would have drag queens? I'm not going to lie, the man could shake it pretty darn well.
 In the morning we did a little drive through the desert, which was all fun and games until one of the jeeps got stuck in the sand! That's what you get for showing off Mr. Driver Man! Spent the remainder of the day lounging around Jaisalmer.
Next on the Rajasthan list is Jodhpur, a town that is painted blue to help with the intense desert heat. I really like Jodhpur, everyone is very nice and friendly, saying hello, kids wanting their picture taken or to shake your hand. I spent a nice afternoon wandering through the chaotic streets, dodging cows, tuk tuk's, and motorbikes alike. Rachel and I had a random man buy us some tasty masala tea and chatted with us, then a flower vendor insisted on giving us flowers for our hair. A very pleasant afternoon in Jodhpur. There is a large fort here that I toured, which was interesting and has some great views of the blue infused town. I also went on a jeep safari, where we mostly saw cows. In case you didn't know, cows rule here in India, and they know it! Toured some local handicraft shops and took part in a welcoming opium ceremony. Opium is illegal in India, but it so widely used in ceremonies that they allow you have it, but not grow it or sell it. They grind the opium into water, filter it, and drink from their palms. We only sampled a very small and weakly brewed opium tea, but it was an interesting process to witness.
In a few days it will be Diwali, a large Hindi festival. I'm very excited to be here and its been fun to watch the locals get ready for the festivities. 

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