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I'd Like To Check You For Ticks...

NEPAL | Sunday, 28 November 2010 | Views [2166] | Comments [1]

To warm up and relax after our trekking, the 3 of us headed south to the jungle of Chitwan National Park.  We were told that the drive from Kathmandu would be anywhere from 4 to 7 hours, in our private car, depending on how much mayhem you encountered on the way as the actual distance could not be more than 200km.  Well we set off after loading up on cough syrup at the neighborhood pharmacy and shortly became a part of a massive traffic jam along a very windy and steep road.  It is a never a good sign when your driver turns off the car and gets out, which is exactly what ours did.  We probably just sat idle for an hour before cars started up again and we moseyed on down the road, never really finding out what caused the delay.

About 7hrs and several inches of dust later, we arrived at a pullout near the park where a 1980's Land Rover was waiting to take us into the park to our lodge. The "driveway" into the lodge took about 30 minutes and included fording a quite substantial river where Jane declared she could see the water through the rusting floor below.  At last we arrived and were greeted with lunch (which for those who know Victoria, understand that 7 hours in a car without a proper lunch spelled trouble) which was much appreciated.  The afternoon was spent wondering around and doing a quick (but filthy) wash of some of our trekking clothes.  Victoria had the honor of doing so as she was currently behind in our Gin Rummy competition!

The next morning started at 6am with a quick tea and biscuit before our first of 3 elephant safaris to spot the wildlife in the park.  The major attractions in the park are the mighty Bengal Tiger (which nobody sees), one-horned rhinos, leopards, several deer species, and sloth bear (a bear what has apparently no resemblance to a sloth, but named that anyway).  The 3 of us climbed a tall loading dock while the elephant driver backed the animal up; we climbed aboard a rather comfortable platform and set off into the morning dawn.

The elephant driver, in addition to controlling the large female mammal we were bouncing along on, was an expert at spotting wildlife and reading tracks.  At one point he actually jumped off the elephant and left us alone on the beast as he began looking for rhino tracks around a muddy hole.  Obviously he had complete faith, but to us we felt quite abandoned and even more so when the elephant started walking away in search of a tree to eat.  With a few words of command, the elephant came right back and even picked our driver up with her trunk allowing him to resume his seat around her neck. 

While very little wildlife was seen apart from a few spotted (or axis) deer, the experience of riding an elephant in a jungle was well worth the tortuously long drive.  Most of the time we followed a well-worn path but several times in search of animals the elephant was steered into the thick (and supper tall) grass which was of no problem for our 2-ton lawn-mowing machine.  On command, she would even use her trunk and reach ahead to quite literally remove an entire tree from our path!  Anybody that needs to build a trail should certainly hire an elephant for a day. 

Our days and afternoons were filled with jungle walks, bird watching, jeep rides, canoes and relaxation in the warm sunshine.  On these expeditions we spotted some wild boar, barking deer, several monkey species, an owl, an enormous python that is apparently the "smaller" one in the park rather than its man eating relative the "larger" one, crocodiles, and lots and lots of birds!  On one of our elephant rides we followed tiger, bison, and rhino tracks through a creek bed but the fog and tall grass kept us from seeing any animals.  On our last night at the lodge, a wild elephant stopped by and tore apart the kitchen in search of food.  The next morning the staff was hard at work repairing the five windows and walls that were demolished.  Apparently this is not unheard of; the elephants not only come seeking food but also come in the night and break the chains of the female trained elephants and steal them away.  All of the babies born in captivity have wild male elephant fathers...

When we returned to Kathmandu we learned of an unexpected souvenir that had come back from the jungle with us.  On one of our nature walks we had learned about leeches and ticks but didn't think much about them.  Suddenly we felt ourselves living one of our favorite country songs by Brad Paisley.  This is where our title comes into play: Victoria found and removed four ticks from Travis and hopes that is the last time she has to live that song again!

We ate a piece of apple pie and thought of the delicious Thanksgiving dinner we missed this year; lentils and rice just don't cut it. Hope you all enjoyed it for us. 

Off to India this afternoon!

T&V

 

Comments

1

Better thee than me at 18,000 feet, and I realize how "wimpy" our trek was, lo those many years ago. Dust and dung smoke, ah yes, but ticks were not one of our problems.
I love living your adventures vicariously.
Be happy......xoxo

  Grand Nance Nov 29, 2010 1:51 AM

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