March 8, 2009

We are definitely in the desert now! The drive changed the landscape dramatically and we left the hills and mountains behind and drove mostly on a straight road with flat desert surrounding us! It is very cool, actually. I’d imagined more of India to look like this, to be honest, so I am glad that I got out here to the desert to see it!
Not long after we got going, Rajish stopped to tell us that there was a good textile shop. Of course, we had to stop, and there were interesting things to see! The prices were more or less the same, and the quality was “same, same”, but interesting none the less. Mom got attached to a scarf…decided she didn’t want it. We headed back to the van, however, the guy selling the scarf followed us out to the van and started negotiating through the window! He finally came down to the price that we said was the maximum that we would pay, and mom and I got out of the (moving) van to go buy her scarf! Go figure!
We headed along our way, and drove through the middle of this huge market – located in the middle of nowhere. People from villages and surrounding areas meet in this spot to sell wholesale supplies to others. It was a very interesting experience, and I am glad that we stopped (I think Rajish also wanted to stop because he actually did some shopping of his own). It was a nice taste of what locals buy in their markets, because there were definitely no tourists there! The quantities of chillies were the most amazing part – they were literally being sold by the truck load. There were tents and tents of chillies. The scales are pretty fantastic, as well. They are the old-fashioned kind where the two sides balance out with weights and the product being sold. Very interesting.
It seemed as though Jaisalmer popped out of the middle of nowhere. We got there much more quickly than anticipated, because the road was quite empty and very straight. Other than passing many army vehicles and tanks going back from the Pakistan boarder, there weren’t too many vehicles. Mom and dad’s hotel looks like the fort itself! It is a ways East of the city, and is built out of the yellow sandstone, as is our hotel. We are located on the opposite side of the city, with a similar looking hotel. Jaisalmer is called the Gold city because of the colour of the sandstone used everywhere in construction.
Our hotel is nice and quiet. Almost too quiet, actually. We were told that tourism is down here at the moment because of the unrest at the borders. We are only about 60Km away from Pakistan, which is pretty close when there is unrest. The city depends entirely on tourism as its source of income, as there is nothing else really happening in the desert. And, because of its proximity to Pakistan, and the problems there, no company wants to start factories or other large-scale projects here. That being said, there are wind turbines – and we all (we meaning my family) got pretty excited when we saw those out in the desert!
We spent the afternoon in the hotel, reading and sitting by the pool. Because we are located outside of the fort (which is good…because the fort is slowly disintegrating because of the numbers of people living in the fort and the strain in which this is putting on the plumbing systems), it was too far to head in for only a couple of hours. It was a nice break to just chill out and read – I am getting into my book by this point! J
We did go into town for dinner, however, as mom found a “Little Italy” in the Lonely Planet. We didn’t think it was the same one as we had visited before, and it wasn’t. However, it was excellent food, an excellent price, with an excellent view! Caroline is sick, so didn’t join us, but I think Scott had enough food to feed a few people, so he brought some back for her. Hopefully she is feeling better for the camel ride tomorrow!
We found some internet, which was nice…but the @ sign didn’t work and the typing delay was so long that it took a good five minutes to catch up with what I had said…but better than nothing, I suppose! I think there may be internet in the hotel here, but the connection isn’t fantastic either. We shall see!!

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