We’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time.
Meet Boon. In order to start off on the right foot, we fed him a basket of bananas.
A fun story: In this world we are all born with different talents. Riding elephants happens to be one of Ty’s. Sloane was blessed with other talents, such as kindness, patience, and understanding. These talents did not prove beneficial during our elephant ride. As the saying goes, there must be opposition in all things. While Ty rode in peace and harmony with Boon, Sloane rode with moderate tension and anxiety. Nevertheless, Sloane was finally convinced to ride with her legs in front of Boon’s head (2nd to last picture) for a brief period of time. It was during this brief period that Boon went rogue and decided to tromp off the well-worn path, cross a stream and start eating the tall reeds on the other side. To Ty this wasn’t really a big deal, but then again, he wasn’t the one blessed with understanding. It turns out that an elephant moves and twists his head in order to eat and break off the plant/reed/tree/branch/whatever. This results in a lot of up and down, side to side, and twisting motions. According to Sloane, it is difficult to balance on top of an elephant’s head when this happens, especially with a baby acting as a mini-pendulum on your front. “It’s like an egg balancing on an egg!” While Sloane entered into panic mode, Mowgli remained calm as a cucumber and held them close with his small, but wiry right arm. After what seemed like an eternity (to Sloane), our guide took notice and called Boon back to fold. No humans were harmed. When asked if people do fall off their elephants, our guide simply responded, “some”.
The Elephant Experience: We openly admit that we like elephants more than other animals. We’ve long admired and respected elephants, so we wanted to make sure our first experience with them was both meaningful and ethical. We went all out and chose the Patara Elephant conservation farm, the highest rated (and probably most expensive..) company. We made the right choice. This place was in the middle of the forest and the elephants just roamed free. No cages, no chains (the caretakers were sleeping every night with an expectant mother due any day). They call their program ‘Elephant Owner for a Day’, and they put you to work. The entire morning was spent learning about them, feeding them, and bathing them. Then we got to ride with them through the forest on their way to lunch. Obviously we were still tourists, but we felt less like spectators and more like caretakers. It was an unforgettable experience. Ok, off the soap box now.
A Few Elephant Facts (based on what we remember)
1) Elephants sweat in only one place: right above their toe nails. Increased sweating is a sign of pregnancy.
2) They eat 10% of their body weight in fruits and greens daily. We were told Americans could learn a lesson from them. Touche.
3) The diagonal rocking back and forth motion (often in the zoo) is a sign of mental illness. These guys love walking several kilometers a day. If they don’t have enough space, they go crazy (imagine that).