Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sleeping in Tents in the Desert

Roads in India are democratic.  A while back, the government tried to pass a law that only motorized vehicles could use the highways, but there were quickly massive protests.  As a result, anyone can use the roads.  On highways, I've seen herds of cattle, water buffalo, and goats; people riding camels; camels pulling carts, carts pulled by a horse, donkey, person; people riding elephants; pedestrians; as well as motorcycles, cars, trucks, and buses.  The vehicles going the wrong way are usually motorcycles, but not always.
  The animals below are water buffalo.  When I asked someone who's been here a lot how I could tell these apart from regular cows, she said that they have curly horns and they look deranged.  I'm not sure how insane this herd is, but the cows I've seen do look more laid back.

On the way to our tent village in the White Desert, part of Kutch, we passed this sign and had to stop for pictures.
  Here is what the desert looked lik at the Tripic of Cancer.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but hoped for something like the Sahara in Morocco - an endless panorama of sand dunes.  The desert here is different, flat, dry and dusty, with lots of scrubby plants. 

This fellow was hanging out at the intersection where we turned off the highway to get to the tents.

This was our tent.

The interior was quite spacious, with two beds, two low chairs to the left, and a pile of quilts near the back wall.  The temperature was hot during the day but got quite cold at night.  We slept under our mosquito net at night.
Nights were noisier than the days.  During the day, I heard doves cooing, and wind blowing.  It was very peaceful.  At night, though, the local coyotes had a lot to say, and the darkness was filled with howls, yips, and barks.

The tent had its own bathroom.  To get to it, you went out through the flap in the back of the picture above, passed through a small area with shoulder-high walls on each side, and then into another tent.

It was all quite nice.

There were also some bungalows, but I was glad Melissa and I got a tent.

The walls were made of dried mud, and it also covered the walkways.

This is the view across from our tent, seen during the day, and in the evening.

We ate in a separate area, with a roof made of sticks and thatch.  The ceiling looked like this.

Fabric was also used to decorate the support poles.

And this is Ahmet, one of our guides.

I liked staying in the desert.  The accomodations were not luxurious, but they were comfortable.  Showering involved a hand-held unit, with a trickle of lukewarm water, but we managed.  It was very dusty here, and our clothes, shoes, and bags become covered with an orange grit, but it was all part of the experience.
  I saw herds of animals in the distance at times, cattle or camels.  In places, there was a line of trees, offering a bit of shade, and sometimes there were people sitting there, watching their animals.  It couldn't be an easy life, but there was enough vegetation for the animals to eat.  In a few places, there was water, looking rather like a slough at home in Saskatchewan, and people grew food in small fields.  We didn't see many villages, so perhaps the people are nomadic.  I imagine life in the desert is slow-paced, one day much like the next, but that is only an outsider's view.  I learn more every day, but I don't always think of the right questions at the right times.

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