This past weekend I went up to our local Renaissance Festival. I LOVE RenFest. I could go there probably every day, all day long, and be a totally happy person.
At our local RenFest, they have camel and elephant rides. There are usually 3 camels, but they only have one elephant. She’s often a very busy elephant, but always seems super laid back and chill. The only thing they have separating this massive animal from the rest of the crowds and the festival grounds is a knee-high fence of rope. ONE ROPE. One single strand of rope that’s strung through wooden fence posts at knee level. And every time I walk by that area, I get visions of pissed-off elephants trampling people, and I say a silent thank-you that this elephant seems so very calm and non-pissed-off, since she would plow through that rope fence and not even feel it.
Well. This weekend, for some reason, she was not so busy. I walked by that area this time and she was standing right next to the rope fence, just hanging out. In fact she was kind of leaning against it with her legs, making it bow outward a little bit. Her handler was there standing next to her, of course, but she wasn’t really paying attention to him. She was too busy socializing with the crowd that had gathered next to her on the outside of the fence.
I thought, “Oh my gosh, she’s so close! I could touch her!”
I have ridden an elephant about twice in my life, both as a young child, and both in similar such rides where you lumber around in a small circle. It’s cool, don’t get me wrong, but you don’t actually get to really EXPERIENCE an elephant that way, ya know?
I have certainly never, ever TOUCHED an elephant. (I was always in the middle during those rides!)
So I went up to her, sidled through a hole in the crowd, ignored the visions of pissed-off elephants that danced in my head and the fact that one of her legs was as big as my entire body, and reached out my hand.
She immediately noticed me as a newcomer and REACHED OUT HER TRUNK TO ME. SHE SNUFFLED ME. SHE STUCK HER WET TRUNK NOSTRILS TO MY PALM AND SNUFFLED. THEN SHE SNUFFLED MY TUMMY.
And that was our hello. Then I petted her trunk a bit, right between her stubby tusks, AND IT WAS AMAZING.
I nearly cried.
Later, we got to feed her apples right out of our hands. And we learned her name was Paige. She is a very sweet elephant. She dripped some snot on the kid while snuffling him and he kept shouting, “BABY WIPE! BABY WIPE!!!” as he did not like elephant snot on his legs, but I thought it was an incredible experience, elephant snot and all.
So that was it. The day I really met an elephant up close and personal for the first time. I loved it. 🙂 Don’t even have any pictures! I was too busy being enthralled!