Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Elefante se Balanceaba Sobre la Tela de una Araña

This morning I woke up for an elephant ride safari through Chitwan National Park. Elephants go out into the jungle with four to five people on their backs to see some wildlife. You get on the elephant using a high platform. You then step into a tiny box with two to three other people.

The elephant is then guided by a driver using voice and movement commands, and sometimes a stick, which I thought was sad. We rode through the jungle for about two hours, being whacked by branches.

Recommendations: Wear long pants or your legs will be all scratched up. Wear sneakers, because like with me, a branch can tear your flip-flop off. Then the elephant will have to go back and pick it up with your trunk for you. Also if you are scared of bugs, this is not the trip for you.

I am deathly afraid of spiders so I was freaking out anytime we went through a bush. On many occasions random bugs dropped on me from the leaves, some of which included spiders. When you are in the cramped little box there is nowhere to go so you just have to whack them off.

On one occasion we went through an ant nest and big red ants began to climb up the elephant and onto the tourists. My way to deal with the spiders was to not look for them. If one fell on me I would scream a little then flick it off.

On the safari we got to see a mom and baby rhino bathing in the water along with many deer, monkeys, and bugs. The animals were surprisingly calm around the elephant and tourists, unlike on the walking tour where the animals bolted from the hikers. I heard this was due to the fact that the elephants cover up the human smell so that the animals don't even know you are there.

(Currently there is a gecko climbing on my bedroom wall, how cool.)

After the tour was down we joined the same elephants in the river for a bath. The drivers pulled the tourists on the bare backs of the elephants as they sprayed themselves with water. The drivers used voice commands to direct the elephants to spray water onto their backs, and roll over dumping the tourists into the river.

We helped the drivers scrub the elephants with bricks to remove mud and insects. At first I thought it was kinda mean to scrub an elephant with a brick, but then I realized how thick their skin was. They even seamed to enjoy it.

Lazily the elephants, drivers and tourists played in the water. All parties came out soaking wet.

Side note: At many points I felt bad for the elephants. I am not sure if they like tourists on their backs. I am positive they don't like being hit by sticks. I am not sure how the elephants are treated, they are fed well, they get to roam around the jungle for many hours a day and play in the river. I think that they are probably better off than the elephants in the zoos in America.

I am going to the elephant breeding center in a couple of hours to see how the elephant population in Nepal is maintained.

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