Originally, we had planned to stay in Agra for two days but seeing as how we saw the Taj Mahal in one morning, we decided to change our plans and take a detour to Jaipur. We saw some pretty interesting things, but I think my favorite part of the trip was simply riding in the car and seeing the countryside. As with anywhere, the smaller towns were dramatically different from the large cities. The drive to Jaipur was several hours and about halfway there, Dave asked if we would like to see a temple. In the spirit of being adventurous, we agreed. He pulled off the highway onto a small, two-lane road where we promptly came upon a herd of sheep.
Once Dave had honked the horn numerous times, we passed the herd on the side of the road....only to come upon another herd about half a mile up. Then another. Then another. Dave explained that these were real life nomads. Literally. Wandering the Indian countryside with little more than their herds. I don't know about you, but when I think of nomads, I think of people back in Biblical times, not 2012. It was interesting to see that this was still a way of life for so many people.
We arrived at the temple a few minutes later. This temple was rather different from any other that I've seen anywhere in the world, in that it was built down and into the rock, rather than up towards the sky. It went about two stories into the ground, down behind us, in order to collect rain water.
We headed back to the highway and passed the herds of sheep, again. After another couple hours, we arrived in Jaipur. We checked into our homestay then headed into town. Dave dropped us off at the City Palace Museum, which turned out to be a tourist trap. The only upside to this stop was getting to see a...snake charmer! After taking pictures of him, I was persuaded to join him on his carpet for a photo. I don't know how he managed to do it because I was sitting quite far away and staring quite intently at his basket but somehow, he signaled to the snake to lunge at me. I absolutely cannot stand snakes and proceeded to scream bloody murder. (The charmer insisted that his snake was "safe").
We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping. Nothing can compare to the determination of the shopkeepers in India. Long story short, I had had my eye on this patchwork quilt with elephants on it. I approached the first shop I came to that had one displayed. For those of you who have visited Canal Street in New York, you have probably been led down a dark alley to a secret room that's behind a wall. It was a similar case at this particular shop and we were led into a basement that was no larger than the size of a jail cell. After about 20 minutes of haggling, I could tell he wasn't going to go any lower. We high-tailed it out of there and stopped in the next shop with the quilts. While I was making my purchase, the first shopkeeper is furiously pounding down the street, seemingly in search of us. Glad we doged that bullet.
We walked around the market for a couple of hours. We were frequently asked where we were from. We turned it into a game to see how far-fetched we could get while still being believed. That afternoon, we told people that we were from England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. I also was acosted in English, French and Spanish by one particular shopkeeper. It was a rather exhausting afternoon, but it resulted in some lovely finds.