Just when we think it couldn't get any better, POW! What a magical day we had!
We went into a small village near Ranthambore where we wandered around photographing the morning activities, and meeting the villagers. Krish took us to a school (K-8) where 200 children swarmed us with wonderful energy and excitement. They displayed their prowess with speaking English, and begged us to take their photo and talk to them.
Next we went to visit a farmer and his big extended family in the same village. They served us tea and cookies and we chatted with them about their lives. They grow guavas, millet, mustard, and enough wheat to feed the family for a year. They own about 10 acres and 5 water buffalo. A young woman of the family had just recently died when digging clay from a clay pit (for plastering house walls) and the pit collapsed on top of her. She bled to death before she could reach a hospital (none nearby) and the farmer told us philosophically "it was her time to go". No anger or bitterness. The Hindu belief in karma permeates everything here.
We drove on later to a women's craft cooperative, started several years ago to help retrain and employ families who had to be relocated out of Ranthambore National Park when it became a game preserve for tigers. It's a place where people make hand-made items to sell and also learn other skills. It has become a nice little support community in itself. We met both men and women who were sewing, blacksmithing, wood-block printing, and cooking, and of course we bought stuff to support them. One amazing thing was how they did clothing alterations in minutes. If some garment did not fit correctly they would take it apart and remake it on the spot! They cooked a lovely vegetarian lunch for us and we visited for awhile there.
In the early afternoon we drove along atrociously bad roads towards Agra, stopping briefly at a wildly decorated Hindu Temple for a look-see. This is the first thing we've seen that looks like this, but they say that Southern India will be loaded with this type of thing! Can't wait!
Our destination yesterdayj was to the OAT campsite, near a small village somewhere -who knows. It is remote and lovely here, sweet fresh air, the best night's sleep I've had since arriving in India. We were gobsmacked by this place, absolutely blown away. It is a lovely enclosure of about a dozen white tent cabins surrounding a green lawn (you don't see green lawns here). Each tent has 2 comfy beds, 2 chairs, a bedside table with reading lamps, is fully carpeted, AND each has a private bathroom complete with shower!
We were greeted here with marigold leis, tea and popcorn and samosas. Next they draped all the women in veils amid the men in turbans and took us out to a field to meet the camels. For the next half-hour we each rode a camel, a magical experience of swaying gently in the saddle, listening to the soft ankle bells ringing, and seeing the fields and farms from a high viewpoint, just at sundown! lovely!! After that we went into the kitchen for a cooking lesson. We made chapatti and a veggie dish with a chef who doubles as a Sherpa and high-altitude chef in summers.
And wait, there's more. Next were the musicians and dancers by the fireside, then the huge dinner in the dining tent, before we finally strolled off to our own little tent heavens.
I could write hour more about the magic of this day, but hopefully my photos and Daniella's will add to the narrative! Enough already
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Location:Somewhere in India