Thursday, May 9, 2013

New Dehli with Katie and Jeremy

After months of traveling with just us two, we finally met up with Spencer's sister Katie and our friend Jeremy. It was so good to see them and be able to travel through India together. There's nothing quite like sharing three twin beds pushed together to bring four people closer together. That, and suffering through a 42 hour train ride. Yes, forty two hours!

But first, we were in New Dehli, the huge sprawling city with the Red Fort. We didn't do much besides wander the streets window shopping, eat on rooftop restaurants, and see the epically grand Red Fort. Here's the proof.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Camel Safari in Rajastan

Bopping along on a camel out in India's desert state of Rajastan, the first thing I noticed was the silence. India is normally a mash up of noises and chaos: tuk-tuks, cows, salesmen, horns honking, and people shouting. But in the desert, all you hear is the sound of the breeze against your head scarf and the sounds of the camels. It was so refreshing.

We chose a three day/two night safari and I'm so glad we did. The first day and night, we only saw our guide and one other person, an old lady who was cutting brush to make a broom and stopped to have some chai tea with us. That night we saw one the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen while standing all alone on sand dunes. It was like we were the only people in the, Bengali (our guide), and the three camels.

We spent each morning riding the camels for a few hours and then took a break for lunch and relaxing time during the hottest part of the day. We didn't have a lot to do since our guide did all the cooking and cleaning  up and wouldn't let us help. We asked Bengali all about life in the desert and how he learned to speak English and take care of camels. We laid under the shade of a tree on the saddle blankets or wandered around the surrounding area looking for interesting stuff or good pee spots. At around 3:00pm, we would ride for a bit longer to some sand dunes to set up camp, watch the sunset, jump on the dunes, and eat dinner.  Then we would crawl in our blankets and watch the stars come out until we fell asleep.

I don't know what it is exactly about India that makes we want to say the word "magical" all the time. I've never loved or hated a place so much as India and yet I still feel like it was fairy tale.

A Magic Moment in a Desert Fortress Town

The desert in India's state of Rajastan is a wide expanse of shrubs, sand, bushes, more sand and a few trees scattered about. It's not as barren as I thought it would be, but there's really not a lot out there either. Coming in on a bus we saw scattered villages, road side tea shops, shepherds with their animals, and lots and lots of land. Then the was the fortress, perched up on a hill in Jaisalmer.

It was a great time of year to visit the town as the weather was great with a breeze that cooled us all down in the late afternoons. We spent the night in a 800 year old building in one of the least maintained, and therefore cheapest rooms. Even with the crumbling walls and lack of hot water, I felt like Princess Jasmine in my castle-like fortress room.

The streets of the fortress in Jaisalmer are made for tourists. The slanting light is beautiful, the architecture is ornate, the people are kind, and you can buy some of the best souvenirs in India on the narrow streets. Plus, there are public trash cans so the streets are clean and well cared for. Public trash cans are a rarity in India and I was more than glad to see them!

One of my favorite moments while wandering around was around sunset when the light was golden and the air was cool. Everyone seemed to be out and visiting friends and family. We were working on getting good and lost when we saw an old man walking slowly and carefully with his hands behind his back. As we scooted around him, two little girls paused their tea party to come running up to him and slammed him with big bear hugs. The girls were smiling from ear to ear and so was he. It was so darling to see the love they shared in that magical light. It's moments like this that remind me how sweet life is and how much we should cherish it. 

The Golden State

Well friends, it’s been a while since I’ve posted and I’m going to catch up. I promise! I had so much fun in India and then we got home and things have been very busy with wedding celebrations, visiting with family and friends, and eating all the food I was craving for the past two years (tacos are my favorite!). I love living abroad, I love traveling, and I love coming home. It’s all been so great! I love California and I’m so happy to be back here in this magnificent Golden State.