Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Mowgli population control plan.

"You know, just going to do a bit of the Mowgli thing for a day or two, then head down to India for a month and play in some forts. It'll be brilliant."

-A Londoner explaining her travel plans; after a six hour bus ride and seventy-two more 'brilliants' I couldn't help but become infatuated.

The Mowgli population control plan.

If given the option, consider remaining content observing rather than sitting on top of an elephant as it saunters through the jungle. At a distance you don't realize the animal is being guided by its trainer with metal pole whacks to the skull, you're not close enough to hear and breathe in the beast's flagellations followed by a solid minute of falling feces, and your testicles won't be compressed into the seat's wooden post each time the elephant takes one of its long, awkward steps. It isn't so much an adventure straight out of the Jungle Book as it is a castration.

This blog, it's now being written in a much higher, squeakier pitch. Think Pee-Wee Herman after a date with a helium balloon.

Nepal's Chitwan National Park can only be entered with not one but at least two guides. "In case animal get one other can get tourist back," I'm told. Rhino charges are common, tiger sightings rare, but it's the sloth bear that brings the most fear. Guides are eager to show their scars, some don't need to life a pant leg, they simply point to their faces. Before entering I had to leave a telephone contact number so "we explain to family if bad happen." I've never seen such care taken since I've been in the country.

In the canoe, on the way into the park, a crocodile is spotted. It's also the same time I notice a strong smell of alcohol coming from the English-speaking guide. A half hour into our day long walk he vomits. He doesn't stop until unleashing over a half gallon of liquid in several short bursts spaced a couple minutes apart by gagging bouts. Then it's time for a nap. It's the first of many.

Between naps we walk little and stop a lot. We listen. We bend down, grab dirt, sniff it, sift it through our fingers, then sniff again. His English starts mumbled and ends gargled. I optimistically interpret that we're on the trail of the One-Horned Indian Rhinoceros. More naps, more dirt sniffing, eight hours later we're still on its trail. At least, that's what I'm probably being told.

As we find our way back to the entrance I recount having seen a tiger footprint, lots of large, frightening insects, the ass of a deer in flight, and a couple of monkeys. No rhino. Wait, there's a lot of Nepali gibberish being exchanged between my guides and the soldier with a machine gun guarding the entrance. We run downstream a half kilometer to join a few other Caucasoids with guide entourages. A rhinoceros is bathing in the river, it's blowing bubbles out of both ends. After twenty minutes it clambers out of the water. I'm amazed at my severe underestimation of the animal's size, it's prehistoric, more armor than a Panzer Tank, its ears wiggle stupidly. When you're that powerful there's no need to ever outsmart anything.

Upon returning to the guesthouse the manager inquires about my guide's services. "You see rhino, yeah? My brother good guide, eh?"

"Yes," I agree. "Incredible."

Keep drifting.

My main man Mowgli.

rhino butt

tiger track

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