Sunday, November 25, 2007

Day 8 -- Travel Day

Today was a mad dash back to the Ajmer train station, as our cab got stuck in the sands trying to cut across the desert. It eventually got unstuck but had to stop to fill up its flat tires as Jon and I watched my watch tick closer to our train's departure time. Not to worry, though, as our train was 2.5 hours late :) This ride back to Jaipur was not air-conditioned and was quite uncomfortable. Still, we got to ride with many locals, which is probably a valuable experience. The car was a sleeper, but we weren't really able to find one of our assigned berths. Apparently, there are 3 levels but one had been folded away for daytime travel. We managed to wedge ourselves onto one bed where we played cards and read a little bit.

Jon and I left Jaipur on time for the 2 hour train ride to Sawai Madhopour. Aside from being a railway junction, there isn't much else going on in this sleepy town. A bit exhausted from all the day's travels and eager to get to our swiss tent, we couldn't wait to be picked up and rushed to our lodge. Ah, but it was not to be: nobody came to pick us up, or answered the phone when we called. After about 7 helpful people dialed the phone for us, we hired our own rickshaw to the lodge. It was a little bit frightening just because we had to go out on a deserted road to get there, but the ride went smoothly. We checked in, got settled and had a nice meal with some musicians and dancers for entertainment.

I'm enjoying our time in India, but I am exhausted. The poverty is overwhelming, and as Americans we stick out as having money. It is exhausting to turn down each rickshaw driver's offer of a ride and each vendor's offer of "whatever [I] want" each time we get off the train or walk down a street. Still, traveling here continues to be a valuable experience, and it's definitely one I won't soon forget!

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