Friday, June 7, 2013

The Beauty in a Misadventure in Kerala

We read that the best place to see elephants in the wild was at a nature reserve in Kerala. It's the best place because the guidebook said it was "almost guaranteed" to see them. As soon as we had that information, we were making plans to go there.

So the day after our day at Fort Kochi and just one night after our 42 hour train experience, we got on a bus and rode for six hours. We then figured out we were still another couple of bus rides away from the nature reserve so we spent the night in some random city and left on a bus again the next day for another five hours on two different buses. It was a long couple of days and we were exhausted.

We finally got to the town next to the nature reserve. As we were checking into the hotel we saw posters with elephants on them and a map of the nature reserve. We told the lady behind the counter that we wanted to see the elephants, to which she promptly replies, "Oh, the reserve is closed for fire season. You can't go now."

What??! I felt so defeated. I had pushed us into taking bus after bus, day after day. I was doing the research at the time and it was my fault that we had to stay in that random city the day before because I had made a mistake. It was Jeremy's birthday the next day and now we couldn't see any elephants. Ugh.

We were all disappointed, but we did what every traveler learns eventually and we just let it go and tried to make the best of it. We spent the next day in a private car (with air-con!) seeing the sights we were still able to see in fire season.

The first thing we saw was a cave-like place with some very old carvings in the rock. It was there that we met a group of about 30 public school teachers who were on a trip during their summer holidays. At first, the men talked to Jeremy and Spencer and the women talked to me and Katie. Then later we all joined in on one big conversation. We asked what subjects they taught and when one guy said he was the music teacher, Jeremy jokingly asked him to sing for us. At first he refused, but then he complied and started singing. His voice was clear and strong and everyone was quiet letting his voice bounce off the rocks and fill the area his music. Another teacher joined him and they sang together. Some more joined in and it was beautiful. The four of us couldn't understand the words but we were all smiling, our hearts full.

As we walked down the hill away from the cave and towards the car, we saw a bunch of monkeys around the trail. It was obvious that people feed them there because there were a lot of monkeys and a lot of babies. It was fun to watch them and see all the tiny babies scurry about and ride on their mama's backs and tummies.

Next we went to a waterfall where we almost got heat stroke from walking in the afternoon sun. It was still nice though.

Lastly, we went to a small lake that we walked around. There was a nice shaded path all around it with seating areas, a playground, places to get snacks, and monkeys everywhere.

While driving around, we went through a lot of tea fields. It was cool to see them and think about how different and the same they were from the tea fields in Korea.

It was still a good day even though we didn't get to see wild elephants. We made the best of it and were happy regardless. That's one of the best things I learned while traveling: how to be happy when everything is hard and not going your way.

1 comment:

  1. Kerala is one of my favorite places in the world! I had no idea they had elephants there!!! So sad you couldn't see them, but it still looks like you had an incredible time!