Gina writes:

I've been looking forward to writing this entry, because I get to tell you about my experience bathing baby elephants!

Having some kind of contact with elephants has been a dream of mine while here in India. So when I heard about a camp near Cochin that rescued and trained work elephants, I was really excited! When I heard that they bathe the baby elephants in the river every morning and that the tourists can help if they want, I was even more excited! Then a friend told me that when he went, health regulations or something prevented the tourists from helping with the bathing. I was less excited, but glad that he helped me not to set my expectations too high.

Then, you can imagine my delight when we arrived at the bathing area and I was invited to help! The mahout (elephant trainer) gave me a piece of rough coconut husk and motioned to splash water on the elephant laying on its side and then scrub scrub scrub.

To be that close to something so huge but docile was amazing! Knowing that the "baby" that I was bathing weighed 4 tons and could easily trample me if he was standing and became agitated was surreal. I had to catch my breath at one point when I realized just how lucky I was to be able to do this, truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

There was a gargantuan adult elephant that was being led to the river as we arrived.

I eventually got to bathe him (her?) too. Only one other person wanted to do that, I wonder why?

After we hung out by the bathing area for about an hour, we left to see the next item on our day-trip itinerary, the mini zoo. Unfortunately, this stop pulled us out of our reverie. The only reason I'm mentioning it here and including pictures is to beg anyone finding this blog and visiting the Kodanad area to NOT patronize this animal prison. The state of the cages, the lack of wildlife or any simulation of a natural environoment, and the number of animals in each cage made me sick. Shame on you, Kerala, for endorsing this as one of your tourist attractions.

About 14 eagles in a disgusting cage.

Our last stop of the day was to the Athirapilly Waterfalls. We followed a sign that said "Best Viewing Point" or something along those lines, and ended us hiking down a set of switchback to the bottom of the falls. A great view rewarded us!

Right now is the dryest part of the year in Kerala (and most of India). We both said that it would be amazing to see these falls in monsoon season!

Overall, an excellent day-trip. We were in a comfortable car for the drive, our guide pointed out some interesting roadside sights, and our two travel companions were pleasurable company. However, we agreed that we would have been satisfied with seeing the elephants only and then returning to Cochin by lunchtime.