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After only one-day delay we were on the road…Yay!! We had our bags packed full of mosquito spray and sunblock. Mr. ‘I prefer horsepower engines over real horse power…’ Couldn’t even begin to get his head around the concept of riding an elephant!!!! It was early and we were driving further and further away from civilization and further and further into the lush green jungle.
Once we arrived we were all given our mahout uniforms, 2 bottles of water and a satchel of bananas. It was a cool crisp morning…. The air smelled of fresh outdoor excitement. As we went to change we were shown to our cabin quarters. They were three rooms side by side—2 bedrooms and one bathroom all connected by a common outdoor wooden walk way/porch. The accommodations were simply perfect. The rooms had just enough space to fit a double sized cot and our few small bags. The fresh smell and feel in the air reminded me of waking up camping as a child. The trees and ground were still cool and damp as the sun was struggling to peek into see. You could faintly hear the muted voices buzzing with curiosity about the day. We all quickly changed and rushed back to the outdoor picnic meeting area. After a very thorough introduction, concise lesson and a short prayer to the god of all elephants “Ganesh” we were off to meet our new friends. There was about 10 other people joining us, but none were staying the night, we weren’t sure if this was a good or bad thing.
Before we knew it there we were immediately dwarfed and surrounded by the unbelievable presence of 20 gigantic, glorious elephants; fanning their ears, plodding step by step toward us–in search of… bananas!!
As I stood feeling numb holding onto my bag of bananas… I struggled between feelings of complete terror and awe, equating to… exhilaration!! I fumbled and panicked, surrendering my entire bag to one elephant!! Oops, what an incredible feeling, to have something so enormous want something from you. The look in their eyes as they marched forward is incredible!
Soon we were being partnered up and introduced to what would be our personal elephant/best friend for the next few days. I fell in love immediately. My elephant was absolutely beautiful. Her eyes were filled with such warmth, tenderness and pure soul. As I gazed into them, I didn’t know what the rest of the world was doing at that moment…but for me my entire existence stood still in time. Her grace and magnificence were simply breathtaking. Her name was Bijon.