Crawling up an elephant is just as difficult as it sounds. When I grab Boonme's ear, she lifts her leg for me. I step on her foot, then her knee, then her shoulder. Then I grab her neck and shimmy up the rest of the way. Getting her to go forward involves gutteral grunting, which I will let you assume is very attractive. She sometimes listens, but not when there is delicious food to be eaten in that particular spot. Getting down is much simpler. I swing my leg over, search blindly for a leg I hope is raised, and drop.Elephants take down everything in their paths, so when riding, it is sometimes necessary to tuck my legs up or duck down to avoid being swiped off the top by a tree. They don't realize that their dimensions change when someone sits on top.
Today, Boonma and I practiced color names and fruit names. I can now say "red banana," because at the moment, I cannot for the life of me remember the Thai word for "yellow." If you'd like, I can also offer you a blue mango. Hopefully I am a better teacher than I am a student.
Our routine is quite simple, really. I ride, he walks or rides, and we let Boonme wander, looking for the tree or bush whose leaves interest her most. Sometimes we direct her to the shade or to a tree whose fruit we can pick for ourselves. I balance sitting up, or I lay down on her head. She's now heard the greatest hits of Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. I think it's important for her to hear the real classics, and she still sways as if she's dancing.
After lunch, I sit in the shade with the women from the village. The baby girl smiles and waves at me now, and sometimes, I eat ice cream from the shop across the street. It's slow-paced and peaceful, and I forget that life goes on in the busy world outside of my bubble. I'll rejoin it eventually, but for right now, I'll just sit next to this fan and drink my twice-daily cup of coffee.
She's just like me, always searching for food.