Rajasthan is brimming with hidden gems waiting to be explored by curious travelers. As an adventure-seeking vacationer, I thrive on veering off the trodden path and immersing myself in challenging and revitalizing experiences. My recent escapade through India has left a myriad of incredible memories jostling for my attention. Journeying from opulent cities and palaces to the humblest of remote villages—Ranapur, Pinwara, Ghothal, Bera, Jawai and some unnamed—has been eye-opening.

For this solo traveler far from modern conveniences such as plumbing, electricity, water taps, Wi-Fi, air conditioning, infrastructure, or English speakers, I find true bliss! With the help of my guide Kishir, who is fluent in all Hindi dialects, I interacted with various tribes who had never encountered a foreigner before. In order to build trust upon arrival, I would bring small gifts and blow bubbles (which initially scared them until children came out to pop them and everyone joined the fun). Occasionally, I would donate rupees to an elder—always greeted with smiles.

The Bhil people, living in mud huts even today, were the poorest among those I met. A woman offered me a grubby cup of tea which I drank nervously, hoping not to suffer from “Delhi Belly” later that night. Fortunately, I didn’t; instead my heart swelled with appreciation. Thinking of our fellow solo traveler Rachel in Kolkata who experiences this daily gratitude fills me with envy.

Thank you, India—my cherished land—for deepening my connections and reminding me to be ever mindful of my abundant blessings on this incredible solo journey!

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Terry Pawelko