Periyar- Fire and a Spice Tour

lighting the fire

lighting the fire

We decided to visit Periyar with its beautiful rolling hills, tea farms, and nature preserve, because my husband’s children had joined us for a few weeks and we wanted to show them a good time.  We also wanted a closer glimpse of the India’s amazing natural world and wildlife.   On the recommendation of our guide, we got massages and visited the Kadathanadan Kalari Centre  for a Kalari Traditional Martial Art Show :

lighting candles

lighting candles

jumping through flaming hoops

jumping through flaming hoops

traditional show

traditional show

twirling

twirling

twirl

twirl

My husband’s daughter really wanted to ride on an elephant so we visited a place that had spice tours and elephant rides.  The first giant elephant we came across had recently urinated and a giant wet stream covered the ground below it.  From a look at the tusks and a very pronounced sexual anatomy, I quickly concluded he was a boy.  People gathered around looking curious and excited, and I watched from afar.  There is something about animals, they show what they are feeling, and this elephant did not feel happy.  The trainer standing next to the elephant had two sticks in his hand, one had a small pointed hook sticking out of the end like a poker stick.  The elephant’s eyes were down.  To see such a magnificent creature reduced to little more than slavery was really hard.  Separated from the big male, a female elephant stood chained under a wooden roof.  Her sides were bulging; she was very pregnant, and she waded her trunk through palm leaves at her feet.   She made some motions with her trunk towards the fruit.

Since there was a wait to actually get on an elephant, we first took a tour of the connected spice plantation.  Our guide broke fresh pieces of oregano, allspice, cilantro, lemongrass and had us taste.  He then explained that all pepper came from the same tree; black, white, and green were just picked at different ripeness.

on our spice tour

on our spice tour

spice tour

spice tour

white, green, or black pepper (depending on when picked)

white, green, or black pepper (depending on when picked)

While the spice tour was all very enjoyable, my mind kept wandering back to the elephant, the poker stick, and the chains.  I’d read stories of elephants going crazy under such conditions, and our friend had reinforced that.  He told us that elephants showed dominance by stepping on each other’s heads and so in training the trainers jumped all over the baby elephant’s head.  We fed some fruit to the female elephant but decided to skip out on the elephant ride.  We hoped see plenty of wild elephants, free in their natural habitat, the next day at the Tiger Reserve.

the only photo I took of the elephants (this is the female)

the only photo I took of the elephants (this is the female)

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