Long drive to Jaisalmer, so up early and off early. We made our usual Stuckey’s stop earlier than usual. Then, after lots of road, small towns, and the occasional herd of road goats, got within visual distance of Jaisalmer.
What can I say about the Jaisalmer fort? A real-life sand castle. A Star Wars set piece. An outtake from “Dune.” It is one of the most magnificent things I’ve ever seen—the photo doesn’t do it justice. Truly one of the most glorious sights I’ve ever seen.
And then came the last straw with Ramesh. Jaisalmer being on the edge of the Rajastani desert, camel treks are quite popular there. Ramesh promised us he could find us a good place to have a camel trek, and that he could get it for us at “half-price”—something about me being a writer would come in handy. He assurued us that he could make it happen, and after all, he did find us a good place to stay in Jodhpur, so we said what the hell.
He took us to an area outside Rajastan that was known for decent camel trekking. So far so good. He took us to a compound with a series of huts, sort of a guest house for a camel experience. We noticed that a couple of the huts had their own air conditioners. Again, all right. Then we med the guy who ran the place, a tall dude with a loud starched shirt and a long pinky nail…the kind of guy you’d expect to sell you fake gold jewelry or style your hair in Queens. Not very camel-y.
We sat down with some tea and talked options for camel trek. He talked about taking us out into the desert on a “camel cart” (basically a horse-drawn cart with blankets) for a few hours at night. For a price at around double that of an actual camel trek. We explained what we wanted, and he said to get it would cost even more money. Then told us a cautionary tale about the German tourist on a camel trek who wanted to sleep by the fire, and got bitten by scorpions as a result, and whose life was saved because the trek guides were there. He said to get a trek at the price we were asking, he couldn’t guarantee that he could have guides to stay with us and protect us from god-knows-what-in-the-desert. Trying to scare us into paying his price. You can imagine how Natacha reacted to that.
Basically, Ramesh took us to a rip-off joint. And lied to us for the commission.
Equals the last straw.
We had Ramesh take us into Jaisalmer and said good-bye for the next two days, not telling him where we were staying. Once we got situated, we found a place to book a full camel trek for the next day, for about 1/2 of what jewelry boy quoted us. Then we bought light billowy shirts and pants for the desert heat. And after walking around the town a bit and having a nice dinner at a gorgeous rooftop restaurant in full view of the fort, we called Ramesh and told us we were firing him. Which worried us a little bit, but also felt FUCKING AWESOME. Um, I mean, it was a relief.