The elephant made quite an impression on me while I was in South Africa. This animal is so gigantic! Their big, round bodies are seem hard to move around and still they can move with such elegance, spraying water in the air, shaking their heads and flapping their ears.
From Johannesburg I took a half day tour to an elephant sanctuary outside of the city. A man from a nearby hostel picked me up at my city hostel. In African style we arrived way too late even though we were speeding. The caretaker of the elephants had already started talking, but luckily I hadn’t missed any of the action.
I caught his last sentence and then it was time to feed the elephants. As I grabbed some food from the big bucket, the elephants approached me, knowing what was about to happen. They held out their trunks, ready for you to put it in there. If you accidentally dropped something, the trunk would speedily find the ground and clean it like no vacuum cleaner could.
The caretaker took us through all the areas of the sanctuary. Each of the five elephants had their own little room. They kept them happy with food to prevent them from going crazy, even at night. Nobody likes a wild elephant charging against the walls. Even though these were not fully grown elephants, they could easily take down the building.
Three of them were brought outside. The caretaker brought us up close and showed every interesting part of the elephants to us. You could feel his skin, the trunk and hair. The elephants barely noticed you were there. They were just happily flapping their ears to keep the flies away. It’s funny how you touch them very carefully, as if they would break if you press too hard. When you touched their trunk you could feel the huge muscles as the trunk moved around. Impressive!
As if feeling elephant wasn’t enough, they could give you an affectionate, wet kiss. As the trunk approached my cheek I couldn’t help but move away from it. Eventually I braced myself and then felt something dripping from my cheek. That trunk which was moving over the dirt like a vacuum cleaner before, that was now touching my face. As a souvenir I received a big fat patch of mud to take home.
Since I was dirty anyway, I took an elephant for a walk. I squeezed my fingers in his trunk and started walking. I think the elephant was walking me. There was no way I could actually lead this powerful animal and my hands slipped away from the trunk more than once. It felt kind of awkward and I bet that elephant was laughing at me.
Laughing or not, I was indeed happy and glad I got to experience this.