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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Speaking the same language, but not really!

In August we ventured out to Dubare in the Coorg region of Karnataka state in India.  This is about a 6 hour drive south and west from Bangalore into the green hills famous for their coffee.    Our Spanish exchange student, Alvaro, was in town and we wanted to show him some wildlife.   India is famous for their safaris and general abundance of animals (not only the cows, goats, chickens you see in town) but the peacocks, tigers and elephants.   We settled on an elephant safari in Dubare and booked out stay at the government run "Jungle Lodge."    
After the normal but bumpy 6 hour trip, we turned down a narrow dirt lane, fresh from the rains, our driver could only think of what a mess the car would be.   We followed the lane to a dead end.  I could see a sign for the Jungle Lodges and thought we would be walking through the foliage with our stuff, my irritation level was increasing...Just then a small motor boat pulled up and it dawned on me that we were crossing a fast flowing river in a boat just larger than a bathtub to the lodge.  

Now I must remind you we are seasoned travellers within India, always prepared with snacks, gin & tonics to go, cards and plenty of insect repellent.  These essentials make sure even the most unexpected accommodations are tolerable.   During the boat ride - I kept thinking, what did I sign myself up for!

We arrived at the Jungle Lodge and to my surprise there were about a dozen brick villas, with a view of the river, equipped with a covered porch and plenty of space to spread out.   We had three villas and began unpacking our spread of chips, Cheetos, soda and drinks.    After heading over to the cafeteria pavilion, again I was pleasantly surprised with the mix of western and south Indian cuisine and the availability of sodas and kingfisher beer.   Alright, this journey was turning the corner.   Our afternoon included a jeep safari that allowed us to see the over 20 elephants roaming in their protected habitat, baby elephants feeding, peacocks scampering across the fields and some squirrels.  Now we have lots of squirrels in the Midwest, but our guide was most excited to show us the variety in India!   Small wonders...

After dinner and playing on some non-standard playground equipment (think tire swings suspended from high trees and large spider nets pulled 10 feet above the ground) we retired to one of the villas for cards and snacks, looking forward to helping wash the elephants in the morning.    About 3 am, Doug and I awoke to a tapping.  I was sure someone was at the window.  Doug sprang up from bed, put on his camping headlight and started to investigate.  Now this is where i really wish i had a camera, to see him in his boxers with the headlamp on was something else!   He told me to go back to sleep it was nothing.  

Hours later we all got up, I noticed a trail of potato chips in the corner of the room and my Tupperware container had tiny chew marks all over it...  I was promptly informed that a rat hat been in the cabin but Doug decided it was better for me not to know.   We checked in with Will who was looking for some sunscreen, sure he left it in our villa.   Searching high and low we found the tube that had about a dozen holes, clearly eaten through the night.   We decided to pack up and head to the river, hoping to enjoy the elephants and then get the heck out of there!   

After a rainy but nice time washing, feeding and then riding the elephants we checked out.   I complained about the rats and the staff kept showing me the bill, insisting that (I thought he was saying the rats) were included.   It took me about 10 minutes to realize he was saying VAT (As in tax!) and not RAT.  It wasn't until I showed the staff the chewed up tube the realized I was complaining about RATS.   Their response, "but Madame you are in jungle."

I am assured next time that won't be a problem, but I won't be coming back!