Thursday, March 01, 2012

Laos 3

Jan 17  We’ve chosen Elephant Village for our Elephant riding tour. It’s an Elephant sanctuary for old and dying elephants and the animals are well cared for and not abused like at some of the other places.  We climb onto the Howda (elephant seat) and set off.  Its bumpy and the seat sways under the elephants powerful muscles.  I clasp onto Kyle as we descend down a rather steep hill.  Whats to keep the elephant from tripping and toppling down?  I almost feel as if I’m at a 90 degree angle. I picture myself being trampled under this magnificent beast.  Watching National Geographic is one thing, but to be on top of a creature with so much weight and power is breath-taking and poignant. I fear and respect this animal more than I ever have before now as it holds my life strapped to its back.

The ground levels off and the line of elephants splash into the river, but I don’t truly feel my most at ease until I’ve switched with the mahout (the elephant expert driver) and am riding on the elephants neck.  Her skin is as rough as sandpaper and as wrinkled as a farmer whose worked in the sun 80 years.  Its so thick I wonder how hard I’d have to pinch for her to feel anything.  I like feeling the elephant directly under me. I can ride with her, moving as she moves, and its much more comfortable than the seat on top.  She continues walking as I stroke her leathery skin. (All of the elephants at the sanctuary are girls, the males cause too many issues- as they tend to do across species)

It's amazing.  Truly amazing.  I loved being on on the elephant, and can only wait impatiently for the next elephant riding experience we might get. 

After our elephant excursion, we head to a waterfall.  The water numbs the skin with a single touch.  Lisa, Kyle and Deirdre jump in anyways.  I happily film and take pictures warm on the shore.

Lisa and Deirdre climb into our bed after dinner for our final goodbyes.  We’re parting ways after the evening, they to Vietnam, and us on an off the beaten track tour.  We chat laying comfortably on each others laps across our queen size bed until both Lisa and Kyle are snoring.  Although we are sad, we plan to meet them in Ireland in April so we know it isn’t our final goodbye.