We spent the night at Sohan Deep, a brand new hotel that was still under construction. It was just down the hill from the fort and across the street from my favorite Jaisalmer restaurant.
Rafiq said it was much less expensive than the wretched “resort” place where we’d had lunch the previous day. After a substantial breakfast of scrumptious aloo paranthas, we headed for Gadisagar Lake.
It must have been well over 100 degrees. I had to cover my head and neck with a cotton shawl to keep from getting instant sunburn. Within seconds of leaving the car, I could feel sweat running down the back of my legs. It was physically uncomfortable, but at least this time there were no touts stalking me with leather hats.
We dropped pieces of bread into the water for the fish. The water was so murky, you couldn’t ever see any of them. There was just a “bloop” sound once you dropped the bread, the water would swirl, then the chunk of bread would disappear.
Sonar Qila, the Golden Fort, was next. Soon after we got there, after climbing one brief flight of stairs, my heart was pounding, I couldn’t catch my breath, and I felt dizzy. I was glad I’d toured the fort two years ago. There was no way I could do it this day. I begged off the fort tour that everyone was going on, and Rafiq, who had seen the fort several times before, stayed behind to look after me.
We rested in the shade a bit then found a shop selling cold soda and juice. Just across from the shop was a temple with a pair of faucets which people could use to wash up before going inside. There were some large cups on a chain near the faucets. I went over and splashed some water on my face. It turns out the water was chilled, so I filled up one of the cups and dumped it over my head.
“That might be a problem for you,” Rafiq said.
I thought he meant that I had just committed a social blunder, but it turned out that he thought the cold water might make me sick. Indians often won’t drink refrigerated soda or beer until it’s room temperature because they think it will give them a cold! I explained to Rafiq that if a person is about to suffer heat stroke, which I thought could be a real possibility, that cold water on the head was actually a good thing to do.
After dumping the cold water on my head and downing most of a liter bottle of mango juice, I began to feel better. I returned to the faucet and poured another cup over my head, then doused the front and back of my salwar as well. I didn’t care if I looked like a drowned rat. It was so hot that I wouldn’t stay wet for long.
When the group finished the fort tour, we adjourned for lunch to the supposedly air conditioned restaurant next door to the Royal Rasoi. The AC didn’t work very well, but it was much better than not having it. After a very leisurely and long lunch, we piled back into the car and headed south. We were going to spend the night in the desert.