As we made our way down the river we made a couple of stops for the “call of nature” on the sandbanks along the way. On the occasion when the best that the environment could offer in terms of privacy was a completely flat area, my idea of a lady holding each end of a blanket for a makeshift screen was the perfect solution……..of course the guys were left to their own devices.
As the sun, looking like a huge orangey/red ball suspended from the sky, started to drop towards the horizon we were delivered to our campsite. A large, flat sandbank containing nothing but, well……sand!
My comment of “eeeehhhh man, where’s the facilities?” drew laughter from our “Girl Power” boat as we stepped ashore.
The first thing to be erected by our boat crew was our toilet tent, complete with a neat hole dug into the ground…..not as difficult to use as you may think ladies – believe me – and I’m a novice! Our tents were then erected for us in a semi-circle around the camp fire, communal blanketed seating area and mess tent.
In our “home from home” we were given a mattress, pillow and blankets. As it got dark and I fiddled with a dodgy tent zipper I became aware of being attacked by thousands of moths and flies. They flew at and around me from all directions, attracted by my torchlight. They flew in my face, in my hair and all over me and my tent – they were on the inside too! I think I should have swotted up a bit on camping tips as I seemed to have done everything wrong; leaving my torch on in my tent to attract every moth and fly in India and bringing most of the available sand in from outside on my shoes.
As I was wondering how I was going to cope all night with the mass of flying creatures the onslaught suddenly seemed to die down, and Ajay explained that the insects only have a short life and fly between 5.30 pm and 9.00 pm, then they die. Thank goodness I thought, now all I have to deal with are the marauding man-eating tigers and king cobras sliding silently across the sand……destination – my tent!
I suddenly felt a bit nervous again as we sat on our communal blanket sipping steaming chai in the dark, laughing and joking with each other whilst our delicious evening meal was being prepared by our boat crew.
Of all the meals we’d had together so far, sitting cross-legged or kneeling in a circle in the torchlit mess tent, passing round dishes containing local food, this was the one I had enjoyed the most. The camaraderie of a bunch of people who were all “in it together” was enjoyable, people who were strangers just over a week ago bonded and got to know each other better. Everyone seemed to relax……assisted by the rum, cognac and wine being shared generously.
Later lying in my tent in the dark I remembered a documentary I’d seen when Bot Flies had burrowed into some poor unsuspecting ladies head. I got the heebie-jeebies and decided to sleep all night with my hat on!! As I was so tired and also, I suspect , due to a generous slug of Courvasier kindly shared with me, I slept like the proverbial “log”. I only woke once to find sweat pouring down my face and neck, my head feeling like it was in an oven. I decided I must remove my hat, and prayed to the 30 million Hindu Gods and Goddesses to protect me from the dreaded Bot Fly (actually, I’m not sure if they even occur in India but I wasn’t taking any chances!).