Monday, April 10, 2006

Minor Camel Injury in Jaisalmer

In Jaisalmer I signed up for a two day overnight camel safari into the desert. It was amazing, but like all things in India, it was also a little crazy and chaotic.

Everyone else's camel had cool Indian names like Hanuman or Maherena. My camel's name was Michael. What kind of camel name is Michael anyway? Apart from his name, I immediately sensed that Michael was different than the other camels. Physically, he appeared to be slightly smaller and didn't seem to socialize much with the others. In fact, it felt almost as though the other camels didn't really like Michael. He was the outcast of the camel community.

The first time I mounted Michael he immediately sprung to his feet and began to trot off. I was excited because I thought that this meant that Michael was an intelligent leader-type of camel. I chalked up the other camel's dislike of Michael as some sort of jealousy. I couldn't be further from the truth.

I soon learned that Michael was the only camel that did not know where he was going. All of the others had a built in sense of direction that would efficently and effortlessly lead them to each destination on the trek. Lacking this sense of direction, Michael would run off ahead of the group as quickly as possible before eventually stopping to stare blankly at the horizon, his head turning in every direction, trying to figure out where to go next. During this time the other camels would overtake him and he would try to speed up to keep up (breaking into a trot, which really hurts your ass). Each time he would eventually be relegated to the back of the pack where I was left to deal with the collective smell of all the camels' farts. And let me tell you, these animals fart a lot. It's disgusting.

Not only did Michael lack a sense of direction, but he also had a nasty habit of smelling other male camels' asses during the ride. Getting this close to the other camels' asses simply subjected me to their strong smell as well. Strangely he had no interest in female camels, just the male ones. Soon the group of travelers I was with began to refer to him as "Brokeback Camel" and there were jokes of "forbidden camel love". Even our camel drivers thought that this was hilarious - "Michael love to smell other camel ass. That is Michael's style."

During the day we visited remote desert villages filled with cute children and stopped for lunch uner the shade of trees. It was hot - upwards of 45 degrees in the middle of the day - but the desert was stunning to see. At night, we slept on the sand dunes in the open- no tents or anything - under beautiful stars. It was amazing. What was not amazing, however, were the dung beatles that were literally everywhere on the dunes. So sleeping in the open meant that I shared my bed with hundreds of these nasty insects. I guess that it was a small price to pay for such an incredible experience.

The next morning, we watched the sunrise over the dunes and set out on our camels. As expected, Michael was the first one to start out and was soon running down the dunes in the wrong direction, causing Raju the camel driver to scream furiously while running him down to stop him. About 10 minutes later, once again in the lead, Michael went the wrong direction. Realizing he was going the wrong way, the group and the camel drivers began to call for him. This obviously confused Michael (who seemed easily confused). Panicked, he suddenly bolted, full speed, towards a tall bramble tree full of thorny branches.

I had only a few seconds to cover my face as Michael pressed through the bush. The thorns ripped my pants and cut up my leg and arm. I was lucky to be able to hold on to the saddle. Emerging from the bush, I had thorns stuck in my hand, foot, leg and thigh, and was bleeding everywhere. Stupid camel.

Besides the minor camel injury I sustained and the strange dung beatle bedfellows, the trek was one of the best things about this trip. Next time I want a cooler camel and less dung beatles.


Anonymous Christina Campbell said...

Hey Della,
Add another fan to your club! Remember me? Lisa's gorgeous and hilarious best friend who used to visit you sinners at Queens?! She sent me the link to your blog a few weeks ago and I've been reading it since. This afternoon you had me practically peeing my pants over your special Brokeback Camel! Travel writing just doesn't get much better than that!

Anyway, do keep up with the heart-breaking, insect-eating, monkey-luring, and other un-ladylike antics. I'm having way too much fun living vicariously through you!


1:44 PM  

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