Sunday, January 1, 2012

Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage

Our run-away

Today we headed out for the Elephant Orphanage about an hour outside Kandy. The road, of course, wound through numerous villages, motorcycles, get the picture. We noticed that this area was full of pottery - every shop was selling various vases, plates, chimes, and other kinds of pottery. Sadly, every shop looked like the one before it. We started reflecting that we've also seen all fabric shops together, or all picture shops. Apparently, that's pretty standard here. Sometimes it's because things like the clay is readily available in a region, thus many people are involved in making clay products. Other times it's because there's a distribution shop nearby. Wood workers seem to work in a similar manner, sharing the resource and then all selling at the same spot. Fortunately, some do work to ship things overseas, selling wholesale - hopefully they're successful on other levels besides waiting for sellers to stop by.

We arrived at the Pinnewala elephant orphanage just in time to see the elephants playing in the river - they were wonderful to watch. There were 8 babies in the group - they spent lots of time rolling in the water, spraying, nursing, playing with each other, stretching, and generally cavorting around. The teenagers were the rebellious lot. One of them decided to head across the river. She found the grass growing up the slope and started feeding, rolling in the grass, pulling out tufts, and generally playing around. When the keeper neared to get her back into the river, she ran off down the river...with the keeper in pursuit. She finally relented and splashed back into the water, making a big show of moving towards the rest.

Ahhh...feels good
Trying to scratch

There was one particular rock that was quite popular among the elephants, especially the older ones. The would come up and scratch their rumps on it, moving back and forth for quite a period of time - one BIG itch, that's for sure. A few of the small ones tried but it really wasn't at a good height for them...they'll grow into it, I'm sure.

The orphanage was started to take care of 4 elephants that were found orphaned in the wild. A couple were just young but apparently one had been blinded and another had argued with a land mine. The orphanage worked to care for the numerous elephants that could no longer live in the wild, and, over time, they have grown into a herd of 86 different animals. They bring them in various groups down to the river a couple of times of day - hence the great show we got to visit. 

Heading from the river, through the town

To get there, there parade through the village - a great tourist treat...and way to get the tourists into the shops that line the street! The local hotels have placed their balconies for perfect viewing, even turning chairs so you can sit and watch...and it's not their fault that they just happen to serve tea, or coffee, or whatever else people want while they watch cavorting elephants. The one we went to had a great sense of humor...the entrance to the restaurant was under an elephant....with a posterior view of said elephant as you leave.

The day included yet another surprise...Jeff called our next hotel, per request, to confirm our reservation. They responded that yes, they did have one for use...but it was for the day AFTER we thought we were arriving. We suddenly had a hole in our schedule...and we were leaving Kandy in the morning. Fortunately, between our traveler's guide and our driver, we found a place. With it being the big travel season for Sri Lanka, guest houses were quite full!

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