One of the things I had hoped to see was an elephant, up close and personal. During our drive out to Wayanad, we made a brief stop at Pookot Lake. Like most scenic parks, it had picnic tables, a playground and boating on the small lake. The park offered a unique feature: elephant rides.
As we walked around the lake to the ride, we noticed that no one was in line and there was no elephant. I was really sad because I wanted to play tourist and have my picture taken on the elephant so I could post it on Facebook and brag about my out-of-this-world trip. Our driver asked the park employees what happened to the elephant. He was told she had the day off. If I had been 5 years old, I would have cried and had a tantrum.
While walking back to the car, our driver made a few discrete phone calls. We left the park to head to our next stop. He told me that he knew where the elephant was – she had the day off and was having a bath in a nearby river. We immediately headed for the river. We left the car and walked through a soccer field down to the river and there she was!
My elephant, named Roopa, was eating a snack of leaves and playing in the water! When her keepers saw me, they yelled out to Roopa a command (in Malayalam since that is the only language she knows) to spray herself with water. I started snapping photos as quickly as I could. When the keepers realized that the bank was too steep for me to climb any closer, they walked her over to me. I stepped to the river’s edge and was able to pet and talk with my new friend.
Since I was too busy playing with Roopa, the driver and my husband had to take the photos. I had the time of my life! I didn’t get to ride her but I had a personal audience with a beautiful 20-year-old elephant named Roopa.
As we headed back for the hotel in Calicut, I decided this was definitely one day that I will remember for many years to come. Next stop: Palakkad to visit relatives and check out the oldest Jain temple in Kerala and a fort with a moat.
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