. A German traveler Hans was extremely into this hike, acting as if we were in battle in the 1920's. It wasn't that much different, only we had nothing but cameras between us and the big boys. Weaving in and out of elephant grass that truly is "as high as an elephant's eye", my guide assures me that our Tharo companion can protect us with his stick. After seeing the Tharo people dance a protection dance around the campfire that night, I can better appreciate that these sticks might, just might, protect me against a fearsome tiger. However I sincerely doubt that if Tony has me in mind for dinner, a stick won't stop him. I survive my all day long jungle walk seeing only birds, crocodiles (from a safe distance) and monkeys. The next morning I meet my elephant friend, Madru Kali, who is to be my guide on a jungle safari. On her back I feel inifinitely more comfortable in the jungle, with the exception being that I am now much closer to the leopards, who prefer to hang out in the trees. I see beautiful kapok trees in this jungle, and am reminded of my parent's favorite restaurant in Florida. In this jungle these trees grow mighty and strong, their roots spreading out wide like the foot of a great bird. I love my elephant and am reluctant to leave her, but I pose with her and then get a bath with the other working elephants down at the river. This is how I lose a pair of glasses, but well worth it! In the afternoon I go on a canoe ride in a hollowed out kapok tree, which is about the most tippy boat I've ever been in. I use all my power to relax, and try not to think about the 3 species of crocodile that live in the river and the German man who continually shifts the boat causing to lean precariously towards the flowing water. Finally we drift to the shore and get back on foot for another walk through the jungle, where I spot male tiger spoor (paw prints) and see trees thrashed, the work of a herd of wild elephants. My heart beating nearly out of my chest now, I am relieved to see the elephant breeding center, where I go safely behind a fence to see newly born baby elephants. In a few minutes, the walk and the canoe ride becomes worthwhile.
After leaving my puppy dog guide, I take a public bus for a six hour ride on barely traverseable roads west to see some wildlife in Chitwan National Park. Immediately upon getting down from the mountains the weather changes from bone dry to moist, humid air, and the vegetation becomes even more lush than the marijuana strewn hillsides of the lower Annapurnas. I stay at the Rhino Residency Resort, across the river from Chitwan. The next day I hike all day long through the thick heat looking for rhinos, wild elephants, tigers and sloth bears. Truth be told, I really do not care to run into any of these animals while on foot. I feel as tiny as a lowly ant, walking through this forest of grass. Taking up the rear of our party did not add to my comfort level. My motto is always to hike as slow as the slowest hiker, and when ferocious animals are part of the mix, I felt like it would be good manners for at least one guide with a weapon to be behind me. I recalled another motto when facing a hungry animal. "I don't have to outrun him, I just have to outrun you." Being the last of the pack was not where I wanted to be in Darwin's line