I'm generally game for most things, and I was curious about the elephants. But the minute I got to the preserve, I decided that I would not enjoy novelty rides, such as those offered on the backs of elephants and camels. The creatures always look sad, and even a bit tawdry in their heavy makeup; they seem weary of their work, and profoundly displaced in city squares--even in protected countryside areas. And they frighten me, as well they should.
Elephants are fabulously large; camels are fabulously nasty and they even spit; both are completely mysterious. And will remain so, no matter how much we think we've tamed and mastered them. The plight of elephants--and lions--should make us all weep; they're in grave danger and their numbers are dwindling.
I suppose, if you have a vast desert to cross, it helps to be carried by a creature that doesn't need water. And if you have uncharted mountains to climb, you might feel more confident starting on top of a mountainous being. Lumbering along on the back of our elephant on our way to a campfire dinner, I finally understood exactly how long those historic Mughal treks across India, with princesses perched in their golden howdahs, must have felt. What I will never understand is what ever possessed anyone to climb on the back of an elephant in the first place.