As is wont to happen when you’ve tried to sleep through a sandstorm, getting up and having to tiptoe past sleeping camels and stray dogs just to take a piss, and having to haul a sandy blanket over yourself to stay warm, we didn’t really sleep in.
In fact, Natacha & I were up early enough that we could hike to the top dune and watch the desert sun rise over the dunes. A treasured moment.
We brushed what sand we could out of various crevices, knocked back some chai and—believe it or not, eggs—and saddled up once again to head out of the desert.
By the way, did I mention that Brit Kate was basically c-teasing Brit Richard the whole trip? Oh yes. Hopefully Natacha will fill in the details on that, as she has a better memory of it. But yep. British girls are famous across the travelers’ communities for basically treating the world like spring break, and our duo was no exception: flirting with the camel herders, looking for dude attention wherever they could find it, and drinking and toking whatever was offered them.
(Here's a New York Times article on how horrendous British tourists are. They're the new "ugly Americans!")
Tennessee rode on Emma’s camel on the way back and I wondered if that didn’t represent some new intimacy they might have had. And by “new intimacy,” I mean the night before, maybe they did it. Though to be fair, the dual-camel ride was my only proof.
Earlier in the trip Emma had mentioned that they might spend the night at a guest house in the fort. I mentioned that the Lonely Planet was trying to warn people away from that, as all the water runoff of the city (from showers, toilets, etc.) erodes the sandstone foundation of the fort. On the trek back, she said, “Ken, Tennessee tells me that the lonely planet just says that because the hotels outside the fort pay them to.” Oh, okay, Emma. Instead of believing the backpacker’s authority on the area (Lonely Planet, not me) and UNESCO, it makes more sense to believe a guy who’s paycheck comes from a tourism company located inside the fort. Whom you probably did it with.
On the way back, Richard was sick of riding his camel, so he decided to walk along the herd. In flip-flops. Frankly, it seemed he’d only gone on the trip to follow Kate and Emma (mostly Kate, who had been traveling for the last 8 months sans boyfriend).
Considering the amazing places Rich had traveled to in the past two years (Mongolia, for one) I have never seen someone traveling for two years be such a complainer.
I do remember Emma cooing to him, “Riiiiiiiiich, Riiiiiiich, is that more comfortable than riiiiiiding?
Should Iiiiiiiiiii get off my camel toooo?” And Rich basically having a plume of black smoke coming off his head, he was so miserable. Kind of hilarious.
We made it back to the trailhead in about two hours, posed for a group photo and got back to Jaisalmer by noon or so.
Remember what I said how amazing the fort was from a distance? It was no less impressive from inside…just a fascinating place. Narrow streets, Ancient temples, a palace, cows, dogs, tiny shops…there were ramparts all along the edge with fantastic views of the city around us. We walked around, shopped a bit, and mostly imagined what fort life would’ve been like.
We then picked up our train tickets from Jaisalmer to Delhi, and later, had dinner with our travel pals Marie and Greg (whom we ran into when picking up our packs from the trekking office), taking them to the rooftop restaurant we’d been to before. In our last night in Jaisalmer, it was a pleasure to share the dazzling evening views of the fort with them.