Sunday 9th February – Dera Dunes Retreat

Another leisurely rise and a day at ease, catching up on my blog, Facebook and emails, then reading and snoozing in the hammock. This was punctuated by another cookery demonstration at 11.00 – the delicious fired okra and some pakoras and then a communion service at 12.00 around the outside bar. Lunch of course was delicious and needed more snoozing to get over it.

At 4.00 p.m. we went out to meet our camels for a ride into the desert. Christine got one that seemed to burp or complain continuously (it is hard to tell the meaning of camel oral outputs.Mine appeared to be heavily pregnant which was why I came off her walking like John Wayne. We rode off, each with a handler keeping our camels more or less under control. Mark sat like a maharaja on a cart as did Peter and Glynis. We swayed along a path through the nearby village, passing the school and madrasah. Numerous holes in the sand betrayed the presence of desert rats, but only Karen was lucky enough to see one. Then we climbed the hill, leaning forward in our saddles as we did so. We followed the ridge to where the Retreat had set out a bar and chairs for us to enjoy a drink as the sun went down. It was beautiful to watch.

Back on the camels we now had to descend the hill, continually reminded by the camel handlers to “lean back”. I began to feel like bacon by the time we got back into the village! It was great fun, even if we did feel a little sore by the end of it.

We then discovered that dinner was to be served al fresco with tables set out in the performance area and braziers lit to keep us warm. The main highlight was chicken cooked in a pit whichI have to say did not look very appetising but apparently tasted good.We had cauliflower done the same way,which was tasty. However as the meat eaters were served that as well, we were on short rations! Other dishes were served and there was a rather exotic looking dessert resembling a gateau. A good attempt, but the Indians are not a nation of puddings. It was all very pleasant aided by the fact that it was a comparatively warm evening.

An early rise tomorrow as we head south!

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