We arrived in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan at noon after a cold and bumpy overnight bus ride from Pushkar and were immediately greeted with a swarm of touts holding up signs and all trying to usher us into their guesthouses. It’s nice to feel wanted but there was an air of desperation with a touch of aggression about it. Feeling grateful to have my new travel buddy Claudine by my side we pushed through the crowd and made our way into the labyrinth of Jaisalmer’s narrow winding streets.
Leaving the hustle and bustle of the bus terminal and wandering into the far more relaxed ancient passageways was a relief. We took our time, partly due to exhaustion, calling into a few guest houses and trying to barter down prices before choosing our home for the next week (pictured below with my travel buddy Claudine in the window).
Jaisalmer’s really beautiful, enchanting in fact, but we were exhausted after hardly sleeping on the overnight bus journey and crashed out for a few hours in our room. When I woke up Claudine had gone, I went out to explore the place and bumped into her in the street.
We decided to book a 2 day camel safari in the Thar desert for later in the week and then sat in a vegetarian restaurant for hours eating Thali, Indian sweets and getting to know each other. The next day and our first full day in Jaisalmer was so amazing! I really was falling in love with Jaisalmer, Claudine and all the friendly shop keepers that kept giving us free chai. Jaisalmer is a great place to shop and while we were browsing all the stalls and small boutiques we met some musicians in the street and they invited us back to their hut on the hill.
We spent the entire day getting to know this wonderful gypsy family. We listened to their music, the instrument they played was called a Ravanhatta, looked at their photos and played with their children. They even cooked for us, drew henna on our hands and gave us presents.
The view of Jaisalmer fort from their home was incredible and we stayed with them until the sun went down, making music, talking, the smoke in the air… it was an unforgettable day.
After our camel safari we went back to visit our new Jaisalmer gypsy friends. The guy wanted to marry Claudine even though he already had a wife who was sitting with us but she didn’t seem to care. Claudine seems to actually be considering it, she is so in awe of these people. They persuaded Claudine to cancel her train ticket to Varanasi but there’s no way I was going to.
The next day Claudine was quite emotional because I gave a book away that she wanted to read, we went back to see the gypsies that evening and got hit with a hard sell. They laid a whole load of things in front of us. It was slightly uncomfortable but for me not unexpected. I mean I did wonder why they were being so kind to us. It turns out they were opium dealers as well as musicians so they wanted to sell us some opium too.
And that’s ok, they’d given us an amazing experience in Jaisalmer and had, I believe, been genuinely hospitable. So I did buy quite a few things from them. It was a fair exchange. Claudine was a bit disappointed though, she thought they were completely genuine without any hidden agenda but everyone has some kind of agenda right? I do believe he would have married her if she’d wanted to though, that part was genuine 🙂
So now she regrets cancelling her train ticket.
I left by myself for Jodhpur at 10.30pm that evening with the plan to meet up with Claudine at the train station in a few days so we can go to Varanasi together. She has my train ticket to Varanasi so fingers crossed she shows up.
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