Mo, a small yet resilient woman, lead us through the thick jungle. Wielding her long and sharp machete, she sliced away the lower hanging branches and the bushes taking over the path. Swiftly and without sound she paced on whilst her head moved in all directions. She was using all the senses she was gifted with flew over the paths carrying the eager of a kid on exploration. Then in sudden freeze, she’d bring us to a halt and hold her hand up to say both “quiet” and “listen”. The ground shook at sporadic beats. I held my breath out of intensity awaiting the stomp to come. Boom… Boom… With every shake I felt the presence of something huge. Something of immense size. Moments afore, we had stood inside the footprints left by this creature causing the vibrations. A quiet shiver glided over my back as my eyes gazed through the jungle. Going off of the sounds, we knew surely that it was close. They were close. A whole bundle of it. Excitement grew, placing my mind in those of the explorers of Skull Island, awaiting the appearance of King Kong. But nonetheless, despite size and proximity, the thickness of the jungle had them well hid.
Thus we continued the humid hike, pausing at fascinating mushrooms, bugs and the occasional animal tracks inclusive of wild dogs, gaurs and even a tree mauled with scratches by a bear. Though impressive and riveting, the drops of sweat on our backs were not for these majestic animals. We were seeking for the wise giants roaming around in groups. In attempt of doing so, we hiked hour after hour, up and down, gazed over fields afar, crossed a river over a log and glared through the leaves of this never-ending park in the sweet, desperate hope of spotting one. Then, at the near exit, a set of stomping followed by beautiful trumpeting was our bitter-sweet, thick on the sweet, end of the depleting day. A song of the giants to wish us well. With a grand smile of excitement and the tiniest hint of melancholy due to the absence of sight, we waved Mo bye and scooted off to our cabin where we recollected ourselves before continuing the hunt. For the night would hold another opportunity in the shape of a night drive.
In the meantime, I thought a grand and clever idea, as my miss hopped under the shower, was to let the room breathe in some fresh air. With a door wide open and the screen door shut, fresh air would flow inside and living things would remain outside. Clever indeed, as I lay in bed reading, basking in my brilliancy. Oblivious of the intelligence and bluntness of some living, I slipped in a comfortable daze with eyes locked on my book. Until suddenly, the corner of my eye sensed a moving shade. A monkey small, however for its kind massive with arms bulking and razor sharp teeth stood fumbling with the door. Steadily, he pushed the screen door open and stumbled in. Surely it had to open this way. Shamelessly, ignoring my presence, he ambled into the middle of our room and began scavenging through our stuff on the hunt for anything edible. My mind raced on what would be the nextest smart thing to do as our luggage had been poured into a cluster in the room. My hand shot for my phone when his eyes had lingered on it. The moment he found what he came looking for he hobbled away, but not before checking out my wardrobe to which I attempted to bar him. This brought his focus on me with a fierce scream whilst showing his needle-pointed teeth as warning. Not keen on getting flu shots or commencing a fight at all with a group-like animal that have teeth that easily pierce through human skin, I remained at frozen stance on the bed as I watched the little guy carry his victory meal out. For extra disrespect, he indulged and finished our meal right outside of the lodge from where we viewed him.
Come darkness, a four by four stood outside of our cabin ready for the short drive. The air carried a cool breeze but packed with enough warmth to feel comfortable sitting on the back of the truck. During the ride about we saw many a deer, a handful of porcupines and even a fox, but alas, not what we came for.
On our final day, we did naught but traverse through and through the park praying and pleading. As the fast wind pushed into my eyes, I slightly glanced up and whispered softly that I need not see these giants as I have seen them grander and greater roaming in the dozens in the wild of South-Africa, but let it be for her, the cute lady whimpering at the mere thought of these beauties. Let it be for the sweet woman who cried seeing those that were bounded, and likely beaten into obedience. Let her see the fascinating wonders nature has put onto this world within its natural habitat. Those sentences repeated in my head, as we circled again and again. Alas, they seemed to have vanished and were nowhere to be found. That evening, we dined with slight disappointment, yet understanding as nature is no zoo. One does not go into the nature with guarantees and that is okay. That is how it should be. We finished our final meal and went back onto our scooter to hit the bed. But instead of going left, as the sky had not completely turned into a dark abyss yet, I continued straight to have one final go. One final, desperate attempt. As the scooter made its calm roar, I crossed my fingers going into the turn, shooting a fast prayer and using up all the luck I had reserved, and the moment I heard a squeaky gasp from behind me, my heart was relieved. I thanked and thanked as I watched the sparkle in my lover’s eyes. She beamed with precious joy as she rushed towards the grass touching the asphalt. Pointing at the distance, I too saw a large group of Asian elephants. Standing on elevated ground, we admired them. We could not touch them, they were faraway, but they were free. Free, wild and happy.