Okay, if you haven’t ever interacted with an elephant before, do yourself a favor and find a safe way to do so. They are some of THE BEST animals out there. As we drove (okay were weren’t driving but singing our theme song Adventure of a Lifetime by Coldplay) in, it was clear we were off the beaten path a little. The “roads” were sand and we kind of slid through it as we went along. We passed a random dude just walking, like really, where did he come from? And saw tons of different wildlife. Pulling up to the entrance of the Dera Amer property, we were greeted by a random younger guy in an adventure hat. You know those brown ones with the wide brims that are somewhat popular these days. There were also other elephant keepers there; one holding a tray of bananas. The first thing we did was feed our elephant the bananas. Fun fact, you do not have to peel them, they very happily take them in the whole peel.
Then we got to wash and paint an elephant named Lakshmi. First though she was really thirsty and needed a drink. It’s super fun to watch an elephant drink. Those trunks are really cool and so useful. Right, so washing an elephant I would say is like washing a semi. It’s huge and you can’t get to all the parts. But it also moves as you wash it. Not because she didn’t like it, because she wanted to lean in. Kind of like when a cat or dog leans in to have its head or belly being rubbed. I fell in love with our elephant, there is no doubt about it. I think we connected on a deep level. As far as painting an elephant, I think it compares to trying to paint a moving tree. It’s got thick skin that’s not at all smooth or flat making it kind of impossible. Plus they are huge. It’s tough work, but fun.
After we finished, it was ride time. Getting situated was not exactly easy, and sitting on top of an elephant doesn’t make you feel secure. The owner was telling me not to lift up on the bar that I was holding, so naturally I lifted up, it came undone and I briefly saw my life flash before my eyes before I got it back into place. Oh, you didn’t want me to do exactly what I just did? My bad.
It took a hot minute to get comfortable enough to actually enjoy being on an elephant in India. Our elephant driver was super nice and was telling us what he could about where we were. I only remember seeing some peacocks, a temple under construction and feeling like I was one wrong move from toppling off the side to certain death.
Then as we rounded a corner, as if appearing out of nowhere, was a small platform of two employees handing out free beer and wine. What the what?! Kingfisher please! Heck yes. I can now say I’ve had a beer on the back of an elephant in India. This cannot be real life. By the end of our ride we were super sad to be done. We took lots of pictures but unfortunately both elephants exceeded our carry-on weight limit and had to stay at the reserve. Lame.
The rest of the night featured more Kingfisher and dinner. We met some Americans traveling as well and had a blast laughing and just talking about our trip. It was the best last night we could have had together.
Ridding back to the hotel, with a little Kingfisher buzz, we sang (Adventure of a Lifetime naturally) and laughed. I’m pretty sure we will all be talking about that night for a long time to come.
And to be honest, when we first arrived at the safari we didn’t know what to expect and were very unsure of what we signed up to do. But trusting the experience and just letting it happen turned out to be the best thing we could have hoped for.
Jaipur, you have our hearts.