McKenzie, Maggie, and Tricia coming at you live from the rooftop of our funky, Jaipur hotel. Welcome! We are surrounded by car horns, colorful twinkle lights, and the music from the restaurant below. For the first time in a while, we can see stars above us. Soon, we will hit the hay, but for now, let’s recount the events of the day.
Our morning began at 7:30 am for steaming hot chai, cornflakes (with ~warm~ milk), homemade bread, and bananas. After breakfast, we left Agra behind for Wildlife SOS. An hour drive took us to the first wildlife sanctuary of the day. At the sanctuary we saw sloth bears for the first time and learned about the ancient culture of the “dancing” bear. “Dancing” bears started about 400 years ago by the Kalendar tribe as a way to entertain the kings. Mother bears are killed and the cubs are sent into the trade. A hot iron is pierced through their snout, so a rope can be pulled through giving the owner power over the bears. In 2009, Wildlife SOS rescued the last dancing bear in India. One story that resonated with us was the story of Rose, a young female cub who lost her paw to poachers. Since being rescued, rose has become an “empowered young female that defies her disability by climbing trees”. The veterinarian at the sanctuary gave a demonstration involving many needles, and Margot ~may~ or may not have had to leave the room. We met up with Harpeth Hall alum, Reed Nirula, and her husband, Arjan, to head ten minutes down the round to the elephant sanctuary. Instead of enclosed green spaces, we were met with “wide open spaces, a room to make a big mistake” and sand. (P.S. We are writing this at 11:30 pm and losing our minds)
Our first endeavor at the elephant sanctuary was a boxed lunch that included two hard boiled eggs, a shredded cheese and mayo sandwich, fruit, and Appy Fizz. One of our favorite stories of the day was when Marguerite Coombs’ Appy Fizz exploded, everyone laughed, and no one aided. It was funnier when we realized that all the men at the sanctuary were laughing at her along with us.
Then, we went to go meet the elephants! Everyone got to feed and learn about their tragic history. It’s inspiring how easily the elephants trust and forgive the new trainers, after being tortured for many years. We got to meet the founders of Wildlife SOS and discuss the laws about elephant trafficking in India and surrounding countries. We said goodbye to the elephants and headed to Jaipur.
To fill our time on the bus ride, we sang camp songs and played games. After jamming for five hours to Bollywood music, we have finally arrived in Jaipur, and here we are again on this rooftop.
McKenzie looks like Paul Leon Tuzenu with her cargo pants and many accents. Tricia is still recovering from the the curds from dinner, commonly used in Indian cuisine to quell spices. Maggie looks like a bandit in her bandanna. Thanks for tuning in, updates from fellow travelers to come! Alavida!
-Tricia, McKenzie, and Maggie