Spices and Elephants!

Trip Start Jul 03, 2008
Trip End Dec 07, 2008

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Flag of India  , Kerala,
Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thursday July 17th , 2008

For all intents and purposes, I didn't sleep at all last night.  The legacy of that ice cream bar was still with me, and thus the hours between 2-5 a.m. consisted of me unloading the contents of my stomach.
Even though I was feeling like the health equivalent of a zombie, I roused myself in the morning with the knowledge that today was a day of rare opportunities: a visit to a wildlife preserve, a tea plantation, a spice plantation, and the coup de gras, an elephant ride!
   So we drove out to the wildlife preserve where we boarded a boat with a bunch of very excited Indian families and set sail.  The terrain in the Periyar Wildlife preserve was gorgeous; I had a moment of nostalgia and homesickness, as it actually reminded me a little of California.  It was a beautiful day and a great cruise, although we went out expecting tigers and elephants and saw only water buffalo, but se la vie.
  Afterwards we stopped by the hotel to freshen up, but after a moment to gather myself I decided to forgo the tea plantation to sleep of my sickness.  Upon waking I felt much better and the group had returned, so we headed off to a spice-growing neighborhood.  I say neighborhood because it wasn't a plantation but rather a small community of subsistence farmers who grow spices.  The pictures will do most of the talking but it was gorgeous.  For many of us it was our favorite section of the tour, just being in the semi-jungle and very authentic India.  Bring on the elephants!  Initially I had some reservations because they were old and had these huge harnesses on their backs; it was a bit touristy.  But for all our estimations they weren't mistreated, the handlers never struck them and just used gentle commands in Malayalam to direct them, so we didn't feel too disingenuous riding them.  And it was really cool besides :).
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