Varghese told us he was taking us to see the elephants. And boy did we see elephants.
When you first arrive, you walk past them, sitting on their piles of fresh greenery. They let you choose from a list of activities—we decided to skip the lumber toss. Neither one of us were really into forcing animals into manual labor.
We climbed on our elephant, Lekki, and felt the massive sway of her body walking up the trail. It truly was amazing. To feel them breath beneath your body, their large sides swelling with air, in and out. And then to reach out and rest a hand upon their thick skin, tough like cracked leather.
After the ride, we did the elephant bath. Which was exactly that. Somehow, along the line, these guys had convinced me to pay them to do manual labor. “Scrub harder,” they said, laughing. But I found myself instead stopping from time to time, resting my body against hers and feeling her breathe against me.
Then they told me to climb on. Adam watched from the sidelines which, in hindsight, was the wiser choice. I scooted up her huge body and waited while she filled her trunk with frigid water. It’s something else being sprayed by an elephant. It’s like a firehose. I was soaking after the first shot, and positively drenched after the fifth. But she was sweet after, letting me sit on her knee, her massive trunk sniffing about my feet.
If you’ve never looked directly into the eyes of an elephant, I recommend you go find one and do just that. We sat in awe, connecting with her on a level so far different from one you’ve seen before. Their eyes hold little world secrets, like their ancestors have passed onto them the earliest stories of creation. Like they bear the weight of knowledge in their sturdy frames.
It was one of the highlights of this trip, being able to connect with an animal like that. An animal of not only great size, but of great emotional capacity as well.