Monday, November 26th, 2007
There were fewer distractions along the way this time, but we stopped to see a small waterfall for a few minutes and for milk chai, of course! Then, not far from the park, Durga spotted three wild elephants, a mother, father, and infant, feeding in the jungle foliage below the road. As I stepped near the edge of the drop to get a closer look, Durga started dashing back to the rickshaw, shouting at me to do the same... I wasn't afraid of the elephants at all, but then I figured, "Well, if Durga is scared, maybe I ought'a be too!" We practically pulled off a wheelie getting out of there, and Durga explained that wild elephants might charge if you disturb them.
At the park, a personal guide walked me through the terrain that looked like jungle and desert all at once, with tree-like cactuses and, well, just plain cactuses scattered amongst dense forest. We climbed up a hill where there was a nice view of the surrounding mountains and a few stone-age dolmen graves, still balanced in place thousands of years later. I also met a little brown mantis who crawled around my hand for a bit before it was time to put him down keep going. The guide was hoping to see some wildlife to point out to me but I have a feeling the heat was keeping them in their shelters. We came down the hill to a river which we followed back the park entrance, where Durga was waiting.
The ride back was beautiful. The heat has diminished to breathable and there was barely a cloud in the warm blue sky. Actually, I saw way more wildlife driving around with Durga than trekking through the park. We spotted a Changeable Hawk-Eagle (I wasn't sure if it was an eagle or a hawk, I looked it up, it's both...) and another Lion-tail macaque. We passed a small coffee plantation and some pepper trees, and, in the distance, a waterfall that I thought must be spectacular up close, as it rushed down through the small patch of tea.
Stopping for chai at the same place we had on the way in, a small harvest of coffee beans lay drying on the cement. They almost looked like lotus seeds with their pods changing to blueish gray and black. Another thing I enjoyed about the rides through Munnar were the full grown poinsettias that lined the road. They looked much more magnificent in their natural element than bunched together in small pots at Zellers. It was also amazing to see them the size of small trees, making me realize I didn't really know what poinsettias really looked like.
We also passed a sign that claimed we were 5500 meters ASL, but I'm pretty sure it was feet, not meters.
Finally, just before arriving back in Munnar, I looked back and spotted a cute little orange and brown fox crossing the road. I used to see fox about every year back in Nova Scotia, it made me happy to see one again here.