I love to share with you about my travel adventures- food and otherwise. Last night something happened that was pretty terrifying- but shows the power of nature by way of her mighty wild creatures.
I’m in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka, and we had traveled deep into the jungle to a surf spot. You can only access it by a very bumpy dirt road only suitable for tuk tuks (a bouncy, small, 3-tired motorized vehicle). We were warned we had to be done surfing and out of the jungle by 6, but with the great waves and yes, slightly cocky attitude we could stretch it out (despite seeing the piles of elephant doody along the road) to 7 pm, when it was most definitely nightfall (apparently when the elephants come out).
We got into the tuk tuk and drove along the wind-y dark road about halfway. Then all of a sudden our driver stopped. A large wild elephant was standing about 30 feet ahead of us in the road ! He was standing still, but then started to walk and then quickened his pace into a trot in our direction.
The tuk tuk driver slammed into reverse and went back so far and so fast the back tires slid off the road and got completely lodged in the jungle mud and the engine died. We were stuck.
It all happened so fast: elephant!! Tuk tuk driving backwards! Ugh, Tuk Tuk stuck! Then the sinking realization came over us…we were on foot with the elephant.
The driver freaked out and ran down the road (every man for himself apparently!), with the 3 of us falling over ourselves to get out of the back and do the same. I only paused to take off my flip flops at one point. I don’t think I’ve ever run so fast since high school track. This Italian guy we were with was spouting off something about going in zig zags and trying to get behind a large tree, but thankfully the road was very wind-y anyways and not easy for an elephant to make rapid turns.
Luckily we made it all the way back to where there was a military base near the surf spot and started shouting to the guards. Within minutes a few soldiers came out with lights, machine guns and torches and agreed to walk us all the way out of the road to safety.
The walk back was scary but exciting. We stayed close to the guys with guns, but the elephant tracks were all around the road and we ducked into the jungle, getting cut up with thorns and thistles. But hey- we had protection and made it out alive.
This was one of those rare moments in life when you realize there’s nothing you can really do, nowhere to escape to. Case in point: when faced with a wild elephant, cars and jeeps and motorized vehicles completely out of the picture, you can easily see who rules.
Lesson of the story: Be sure to listen to the locals and guides when you travel, safety first always! AKA do not be a cocky traveler. Be cool, be respectful. :)
More travel stories soon to come! It has been a very full, colorful few weeks to say the least.
Have a great Labor Day coming up… and see you soon!
Sending love from Sri Lanka,