The next morning, I packed my things and went to Renuka.
Linda was sitting in front of the hotel. She didn't look so well so I asked if she was OK. She said her stomach was not feeling well. Maybe the dinner last night wasn't good...I thought. Although my stomach was fine but she might have had something bad.
She also said the other three tourists who had applied for the tour cancelled because of health problem. So we were the only ones who were going now.
"But I don't want to cancel this because I really wanted to join this tour."
I was worried about her but we confirmed that we're going as planned.
I deposited my backpack in Renuka. Since I had heard they could keep our lagguage in their storage room while we were on the tour, I had checked out Latan Palace this morning.
After I put my backpack in the storage, I asked a staff to book a bus ticket. I was thinking to go to a town called Jaipur after the Camel Safari. Although Jaisalmer was an interesting place, I thought it's about time to move to the next place considering my planned length of staying in India. The staff booked a bus leaving at 4:30 pm tomorrow.
Linda said she was thinking to go to Rishkesh in the north to learn Yoga so we were taking different roads after Jaisalmer.
Since Camel Safari was to start afternoon, we still had several hours. I went to the nearby pharmacy again and explained about Linda's condition to a guy at the counter.
"My friend is having a stomach trouble and..."
Then the guy said before I finished talking.
"Diarrhea? Then drink this with water."
He gave me a pack of powder. I got an impression that he had done this thousands of times until now. It almost looked like his daily routine or something and because of that, I though this medicine might work.
I went back to Renuka and gave the medicine to Linda. Then I went up to the rooftop restaurant. I ordered a fruit pancake and a cup of chai for breakfast then Linda also came up. She didn't order anything but put the medicine into her bottled water and drunk it.
After the breakfast, I walked around the town alone.
A staff at Renuka told me that I should have some protection against the strong sunshine that I would likely receive during the tour. So I bought a long-sleeve shirt and a scarf at a used cloth shop.
When I came back to the hotel, a staff told me a man had joined the tour. It seemed he was out now. There was still some time to depart, I sat in front of the hotel and watched the streets and people passing through.
Shortly after that, the new member of the tour returned to the hotel. He walked to me and we greeted each other.
He said with a soft smile. He was a tall guy with beard, looked around 40. I had seen him earlier. We met in front of the hotel yesterday and exchanged small greetings. He was also from Germany. I was wondering what kind of person would appear and his smile and soft speaking manner made me feel relieved somehow.
The deperture time came and we got on a car that came to the hotel to pick us up. They said we go to somewhere out of the town first then switch to camel.
After a short drive, all the buildings dissapered and the car drove through an open space. We didn't see any other vehicle or people. The car zipped through an unpaved road at about 80 km per hour.
We stopped at an old ruin called Bara Bagh and looked around it for about 20 minutes. The car drove again for a while and stopped at some place.
Then we saw four camels and two guides waiting for us.
The car drove back to the town and we exchanged simple greetings with our guides. Three camels were for us and one camel was for carrying supplies, it seemed.
"This is your camel. Her name is Mania."
One of the guides introduced my camel. The man who seemed to be the leader looked around 40 and the other man also looked like the same age. They both looked calm and reserved type.
It was my first time to ride on a camel. It looked pretty big when viewed at close range. The man told me how to mount and when I mounted it as instructed, she stood up. The height of standing camel was higher than I expected, I was surprised a bit by the dramatic transition of my sight.
There was a small protruding object which was about 10 centimeter long and that's the only thing I could hold. I was pretty sure I would be thrown away if this camel went on a rampage.
As if reassuring my anxiety, the camel started walking slowly at steady pace. Two camels were connected with a loose rope and our guides walked in front.
As picking up some firewoods along the way, the party moved forward in a open space. My legs and hip started to hurt a little bit after a few hours. Although it was only two days and one night this time, I heard some tours take longer. It must be hard doing this for several days, I thought.
"Two hours is enough for me."
Robert said as smiling when we were side by side.
The scenery around us didn't look like the desert I had imagined. It looked more like savanna or something. Except some small bushes we didn't see much vegetations so the climate must have been similar to desert though.
However after a while the ground started to be covered by sand little by little. Then we arrived at the sand dune where we were supposed to camp.
The ground here were indeed covered by yellow sands and it looked like my image of desert. But it was only around here and if I looked a bit far, I could see the same earthy grounds were spreading.
Still, the sand dune looked mythtical and beautiful.
It was almost sunset.
Our guides were preparing for dinner. The leader-like man called himself "Dina" and the other man was called "Ralu". Since Ralu didn't speak English, Dina did the most of the talking.
"Are those camels yours?"
I asked as pointing at the camels resting a bit far from us.
"No I'm borrowing them."
Calmly looking Dina answered.
"If I buy a camel myself, I need 40 thousand rupees. I don't have such money."
As saying so, he chopped vegetables and threw them into a pot on fire.
(From left: Our guide Ralu and Dina)
We saw a beutiful sunset.
Then it was dinner time.
We had curry, chapati, rice and vegetables cooked with chili-like source. The meal Dina and Ralu cooked for us was a little spicy but very tasty.
After the dinner, Dina used a water tank as a drum and sang songs with Ralu. He said they were songs of a desert tribe. The melodies and the rhythms were somewhat simple but listening to those songs by fire was really something. He asked us to sing some songs so I sang a Japnese song called Shimauta, Robert and Linda sang a fork song in German then we sang some English songs together.
Dina wanted to hear more Japanese song. I thought Japanese pop or rock didn't suit this situation so I wanted to sing some traditional fork song. But then I realised that there was no song that I could remember the whole lyrics. The realisation made me sad and disappointed.
'I should memorise some songs that I can sing in a situation like this...' I thought so althought I didn't know if I would ever have this kind of chance again.
After the singing, we talked. Robert seemed to be an experienced traveler as well. He talked about his past travels, his job, his son and his grandfather. Then we talked about the information era we are living. We talked about Mt. Saint Michel, Paris, Truman Show... the topic switched from one after another.
Robert and Linda found out that they both lives in Berlin and their houses were only few hundred meters away from each other. Of course they hadn't met until they came to Jaisalmer. Or maybe they had since they said they use the same supermarket. In any case it was an amazing coincidence that people who lives so close met in a desert town in the westernmost India.
Linda showed the pictures in her camera to Dina and Ralu. They were watching it curiously for a while. I wondered what they were thiking watching those pictures taken in some other countries they had never been.
"Do you think we are crazy?"
Robert asked Dina.
"We pay money to ride on camels and camp in a desert. Then go home, satisfied. What do you think about tourists like us?"
Dina didn't reply. Maybe Dina didn't understand what Robert really meant and I didn't think Dina could answer the question anyway. But I could somehow understand why Robert wanted to ask that.
Around 10:30 pm, we got into sleeping bags that were laid on the sand. Dina put several blankets on it so it was a bit heavy but I imagined it would become very cold once the fire is gone. It was very warm inside the sleeping bag.
"If it's cold, tell me anytime. One oclock, two oclock, three oclock, four oclock, anytime. I am here." Dina said.
The sky seeing from the sleeping bag was filled with countless stars. It was amazing. Probably the best starry sky I had ever seen in my life.
"I can't believe this. We're camping in a desert!"
Robert said joyfully.
I had dreams that night.
All the dremas were related to my daily life in Japan. Then I woke up in the middle of the night and found myself in the desert. It was a strange feeling.
'I'm in a desert of India and Pakistan is just over there...'
I was thinking as looking up the starry sky. But somehow I still couldn't feel it as reality.