Saturday, 25 February 2017

Busy Boys – a Tale of Two Weeks (the next bit!)

Due to James getting Delhi-belly a week or so ago we couldn’t join our friends, Louise and John, for a trip into the jungle. Very kindly though, the organisers rescheduled our places for a later date. Hence we were able to enjoy the adventure now, with the addition of a third place for Cris.


After arriving at the jungle destination, and having some lunch, we had an incredibly rough Jeep journey through the forest for 45 minutes before we arrived at the beautiful Dudhsagar Falls.


The pool into which the water falls is teaming with ‘carp fish’. They are enormous and swim around you without much fear. Throw a bit of food in and the water boils with these huge fish.


Much as we’d have liked, we didn’t have the pool to ourselves but these two gents look very relaxed as they discuss the politics of the day (or something)! Doug and Cris were the only people allowed to swim without buoyancy aids, as our guides knew they were strong swimmers.


High up on the rocks adjacent to the Falls, James was able to zoom in on these monkeys (probably also discussing politics!)


Cris demonstrated just how good he is at swimming as he made his way against the strong current which the falling water causes in some parts of the pool.


A lovely view of the Falls from the pool at its base. The west coast railway line crosses the substantial stone bridge about a third of the way up – the rest of the Falls disappear skyward! On the Goa / Karnataka border, and at 2000 ft, they are the second highest Falls in India. They are, however, the only ones to remain in water all year round and form the headwaters of the Mandovi River.


Fortuitously, just as we were leaving, we were able to see one of the incredibly long trains make its way along the mountainside and over the Falls.


Our guide (who remembered us from our last visit – he reminded us that we were with a family! And he was right, we were with the charming Morris family) took a posterity pic for us with the Falls and railway bridge behind.


Getting back to where the Jeeps were parked there were a few ‘cheeky monkeys’ around who were happy to be fed.


Even a mother and baby were happy to partake of the offerings – stuffing as much as she could into the sides of her mouth!


Back at base-camp we were lucky enough to have a hut (the visit included an overnight stay) very close to the river and, while all the visitors were elsewhere, we had the opportunity of witnessing a very special and private sight. Two elephants came down to the river to bathe – one was blind and the other looked after, and guided it, with the most amazing care.


Eventually the blind elephant was helped to fully immerse herself in the water. We stood for quite a while and watched this incredibly moving example of friendship. What a treat!


Later in the day, as the daylight faded, we had the chance to get into the water and help the Mahouts scrape the elephants clean with coconut husks. Each elephant has five Mahouts to care for it. There is one chief Mahout and four others in various stages of seniority or training. It’s a very special position to have and one which usually is inherited down through the family.


While the visitors are working away another elephant has some fun by spraying them with water!


It’s a great privilege to be able to get so close to these huge and gentle animals and it’s very plain to see how much they enjoy the company and fun of having visitors around.


Although James still has a bad shoulder from his (self inflicted and calamitous) fall down the veranda steps (!) he still didn’t want to miss his turn for the elephant shower.


Cris has enjoyed many “firsts” during his two weeks in India but this one must rate as one of the tops ones!


The elephant was a large male and he certainly enjoyed giving us the benefit of his very powerful blasts of water!


After our evening meal the elephants, dressed in their fine traditional costumes, joined us for some more intimate fun. They enjoyed being fed with corn balls by Cris ……….


……. and Doug, and afterwards ………


…… giving each of them a ‘blessing’  …….


…… and a hug!


Cris was not to be left out – he also had his hugs.


An extra cuddle for both Doug and Cris!


Cris had a lei gently placed over his head. This intelligent and loving animal even arranged it straight if it landed at an angle!


And, of course, another cuddle!


Four elephants joined us for after-dinner pleasantries – the forth one is out of picture. They looked so smart in all their gold and jewels!


For the final part of the evening we all gathered around the camp fire (ging gang goolly style!) for a bit of fun.


It didn’t take long to get a few people up to dance around the camp fire. Here’s James and Cris in full swing!


Later James offered a few (dreadful – according to Doug) jokes when the open invitation was announced. This is Doug at a different point in the evenings proceedings to James’ joke telling!


Our hut position next to the river gave us a second opportunity to witness a private moment, this time between elephant and Mahout. For about 1/2 hour the Mahout looked at the elephant and the elephant looked at the Mahout – deep in thought and conversation no doubt. 


Due to the ban on “elephants rides” (which we fully endorse) we were, instead, given the opportunity to walk with them. And that is so much more pleasurable – to be close to these superb creatures (and being given a few words in “elephant talk” so that we could communicate with them a little bit more), to walk and touch them during their exercise period was simply fantastic!


No need to say anything here!


Elephant food (apart from branches they systematically tear of trees!) doesn’t seem to change much ………


…….. when it comes out of the other end!


Here we are, having rolled the food into a ball, feeding a very pleased animal!


It’s not really possible to be afraid of these wonderful beasts – Cris certainly wasn’t!


Here’s James trying to see how an elephant’s mouth is constructed (or some other such thing). Indian elephants have much smaller tusks than the African species – colouring, smaller ears and bumps on the head are other distinguishing features.


We also had an opportunity to visit the home of a Mahout and his family. The children gave us a lovely rendition of “Twinkle, twinkle little star” ……..


…….. and we gave them some sweets and a few rupees in return. Indian children seem to born ‘running’. They are sturdy and strong beyond their rather delicate outward appearance and they’re so full of of life.


Cris had a go at making paper from elephant poo (as you do!) …..


….. and also making masala!


Well, after returning from the jungle adventure the BIG day arrived – Doug’s birthday and yet another infamous “island trip”! This time we took along Cris (of course), and two friends from south Goa – Julroy (right) and Ashvil (behind Julroy).


Cutting a long story short – we saw dolphins, delivered the stuff for the beach BBQ later and then stopped at another island for some swimming, snorkelling and fishing (no fish caught again!). Here’s Julroy showing off (who wouldn’t when you look like that!) ……….


….. and here’s Ashvil NOT showing off! Ashvil is a champion body builder and usually looks even more awesome than this. At present he’s resting for a month before starting his training for a big event in August. Just to labour the point – Ashvil doesn’t need to show off! Lol.


Here’s James with Ashvil – like an awful lot of Indians, Ashvil can’t swim but is still happy to be in the water.


Here’s Doug with his three chosen birthday friends.


Doug and Cris chatting and resting from snorkelling.


A birthday group pic on the way to Grand Island for the BBQ


Two lovely guys and best friends!


Grand Island is home to a lot of wild life including huge numbers of Sea Eagles that continually soar overhead.


Arriving at Grand Island.


This is Ajeet – he’s a boatman and we’ve become friends over the last umpteen trips we’ve done. He always wants us on ‘his’ boat because it’s more fun (that’s his opinion, not ours!) and he looks after us and is a real joy during our day trips to the islands. Behind him are the sun shades which they erect for our comfort during the BBQ.P1020734

This is the trip home where Ajeet joins in (his work generally completed) and he can relax amongst some of the passengers. Namely us!

Well, that’s the final ‘island trip’ during our time in Goa. Each one has been very special for one reason or another but all of them have been a real ‘hoot’.