Saturday, December 7, 2013

the elephants

Our last day in Kandy was a little sad. Kandy is truly an amazing city, and I hope we get to return some day. It's a UNESCO World Heritage City, and it's so easy to understand that. It's the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, an ancient capital of kings. And just so physically beautiful on top of all that. Plus, it threatened to be sunny today, unlike our previous days which were cloudy at best, and drizzly/rainy more often. But Kandy is beautiful even in that weather. I was so sorry not to have more time there. The night before we ate in the hotel restaurant for their dazzling specialty of 17 curries. SEVENTEEN CURRIES. My word that was a lot of curry, but they were all (but one) incredible. Neither of us was too nutty about the manioc, which was mostly like eating a tasteless bit of compacted bread or something. After all that food, we had a substantially lighter breakfast this morning and hit the road around 10:30.

Along the way to Negombo, we stopped at the elephant orphanage. It's a huge tourist destination, the kind with a parking lot full of giant buses and lots of shops selling elephant doodads, calendars, magnets, shirts, etc. But it's the real thing, too. They rescue orphaned babies and elephants that have been badly hurt, and take care of them the rest of their lives if they can't be rehabilitated, and those that can are cared for until they can be released. The highlight is when they take the elephants to the river to bathe.

we really loved seeing the elephants

I didn't notice it when I took the picture, but those two are in step!

I have a much cuter picture of Marc with this little elephant -- will upload in NYC.

SUPER bristly, more than I ever imagined.

Love, but I would really not like to see this charging at me.

he really gripped me HARD, and tried to put me in his mouth. it was great and also a tiny bit creepy feeling.

the cross-legged baby has a deep and sorrowful-looking wound on that crossed leg.

I was hoping to feel that baby elephant kick, but no dice. Elephants gestate for almost two years,
and she was due in two months. That water probably felt very good to her.

splash water! splash water! splash water! (the mahout kept shouting at me)

and so I did. she kept lolling her trunk around, and then piping it up out of the water for some air.

Being in the river with that mama elephant was one of the special moments in my life. She stood there for several minutes, unwilling to come when the mahout was calling her. He called, she ignored. He called, she ignored. He reached out to tug her ear toward him, she jerked her head away. And then, slowly and as elegantly as a pregnant elephant can, she lowered her rear end and then her front end, and then rolled onto her side with her back to us. Nope, she was not going to move, we were going to have to come to her. I loved her for that. If you are pregnant for as long as elephants are pregnant, you get to decide what you will do, as far as I'm concerned.

The trip to Negombo was rough, due to roads that were sometimes so bumpy I felt like I was in the back of a military transport vehicle with no shocks or padding. We finally arrived in Negombo, where we'll stay until a cab picks us up at 2am for the trip to the airport. It was a genius idea of Marc's, to get this little room. It isn't fancy, it's just a small guesthouse, but we have a place to leave our stuff, a place to rest, a spot to hang out for the long last hours. We took a tuk-tuk to a restaurant for dinner and now we're just hanging out. Marc went back into town on his own to get some snacks, and the tuk-tuk driver kept trying to convince Marc to go get a sex massage. "Very pretty girls," he pressed. Marc laughed.

The airport is actually on the outskirts of Negombo, a town north of Colombo, so staying here for the evening puts us closer to the airport than if we'd returned to Colombo. Our flight will leave at 4:30am for Dubai, and then we'll connect a couple of hours later for our flight back home to New York.

When we're back there, and before I leave for Austin on Tuesday, I'll do a wrapping-up post with my last impressions, things I've been noting here and there that never quite fit in a post, but that I do not want to forget. I don't need any help remembering that I love Sri Lanka, the warm people, the sheer beauty of the place. I'll miss it very much, and I feel forever grateful to have had the chance to come see the bit we saw. Lucky me, lucky mud.


  1. What an incredible experience- a gift, actually. I can't even begin to imagine what it was like to be in that river with that elephant. I think you were each imparting something to the other.

    1. I like to think that, Kristie! My touch was definitely different than the mahout's, and I hope she knew that. It was such a brilliant experience, and something we almost didn't do. Maybe much of life is like that. xo