To climb onto an elephant, one must say the command; the elephant will kneel down. Grab an ear and swing your left leg over. Always climb an elephant from its right side. Many elephants do not like to allow passengers to board the left side.
Some elephants cannot lower to the ground all the way–they might be too old or pregnant. Instead, they will offer you a leg to hop on and hoist yourself up from there.
Once on the elephant, situate oneself on its neck so that one’s knees and legs are directly behind its ears. Allow your feet to dangle in a relaxed position. (It is good to either go barefoot or have strapped on shoes and not just flip-flops.) Place both hands on top of its head and slightly lean forward for balance. Feel the wiry hairs on top its head. The hairs are thick and about three inches long.
When traveling downhill, one must pull their knees up and forward towards the top of the elephant’s head so that the feet now wrap around its ears. This prevents one from toppling over the elephant’s head and onto the ground.
Occasionally, pat the elephant’s head and tell them nice things. Stock pockets with bananas. Bananas are candy to the elephants. Trust the mahout. They know the elephants better than an old friend. And now enjoy!
Text and Images © 2014 Rachel Routier
Re-print © 2014 The Black Lion Journal
Re-printed with permission.
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