A night camped out in the wilderness with only a blanket of stars for cover. Sounds romantic doesn’t it? Well, if you call swallowing 2 litres of sand and being constantly covered in a thick layer of grime romantic, then this trip had romance by the bucket load!
I clung on for dear life as Leyla stumbled over her own feet again. Don, riding up high on Michel Jackson in front of us seemed to be doing a slightly better job of navigating the rocky terrain…but not much. It never really occurred to me before now just how odd (and ridiculously clumsy) camels actually are. The camel train of 11, which we were now a part of, were ambling their way through the desert scrubland. The train was lead by Hakarm and his pals, three young Indians who had lived out in the desert their entire lives.
Sat up there on the top of Leyla’s hump was like being perched on some very wobbly scaffolding. The fierce sun beat down on my face, causing my bright purple hippie trousers to sweat a dirty purple ink all over Leyla’s saddle cushion. I really don’t think she was too impressed, which may be why she made the ride extra uncomfortable and left me unable to walk straight.
We stopped at the Khurri Dunes, scrambling to the top with a picnic feast of veggie pakora and delicious chai. Feeling completely at peace, we glimpsed the incredible sun set over the sandy horizon and vanish into nothingness.
In the darkness, we sat around the campfire, ate a deliciously spicy meal and listened to live Indian love songs before settling down in our luxury accommodation for the night…a couple of old, sweaty camel blankets.
I couldn’t sleep. I can’t for the life of me think why. Was it the thought of being stung by a deadly scorpion? Or the sand that kept finding its way into my nose and mouth? The stench of camel? Or maybe it was more the fact we were around 11 miles from the border of the country and I couldn’t help thinking of all those tanks we passed whilst on the train. Whatever it was, I lay awake watching the silver coin of the moon complete its perfect arc across the night sky.
And then I felt it. A deadly presence in the camp. We were being attacked! The sound of pots and pans crashing into each other made me sit bolt upright in alarm. The culprits were boldly staring at me, not even caring that I was awake. And then one of them, no doubt the boldest of the gang had the cheek of walking right up to me and curling up on my pillow. It bared its teeth at the rest of the hounds, who then raced off in defeat. Seeing those not so pearly whites made me think twice about shoving it off my pillow and so I had to accept my fate of a thousand fleas jumping into my hair as desert doggy and I lay still, protecting each other until sunrise.