We then stop in two small villages, where children and their parents unfortunately try to sell us clothing or crafts and incessantly ask for a pen, money or anything else. Irene succumbs and has a girl paint henna on her hand in exchange of a few ruppees. They proudly show us their mud-walled homes, very simply made and with little belongings, and place some popcorn in our dusty hands. We courteously accept and ask questions, play with the children and answer to what they all ask: What is your name??! (Usually followed by: Do you have a pen? Give me 10 ruppees!). They even look in our pockets that we have previously emptied on purpose.
The Thar desert is no Sahara, but there is a small area of sand dunes, and that is where travellers set camp for the night. Camera in hand, we leave our guides taking a nap and go explore the dunes. Not far, another big group of people are arriving on their camels (dromedaires more specifically =P) so we go as far as possible to have them out of our sunset pics. It seems we’ve taken too long there because our host is calling us from camp for dinner. As we are about to sit down, a small sandstorm starts, moving a lot of sand into our food and turning dinner in a crunchy delicacy… Not a experience we would repeat.
Huge beetles start surrounding us; they come from everywhere, attracted by our flashlights, body heat and food. They bite slightly and leave cute paths of footprints on the sand.
Bellies quite full, we take a matress, blanket and sleeping bag each and choose a good spot, when a doggie approaches, in the middle of nowhere. It drinks desperately the offered water. Is is hard for dogs here and they learned to survive in such extreme conditions, from village to village, tourist camp to tourist camp.
A hole under our pillows helps keep our belongings safe. Turns out the dogs could grab anything taking it away in search of food. We wait to watch the stars, but unfortunately there isn’t much visibility tonight :(.
Sleeping in the desert can be a romantic experience; only if it wasn’t for the biting beetles, stealing dogs and wind slapping sand to your face. Oh, and tripods with sand grains everywhere that require complete dissasembling and a 2-hour cleaning… (Don’t try this, kids!).