Friday, August 5, 2011

6 Favorite Animals (and Plant) in India

By: Kim

6) Scorpion at Vellore

We almost stepped onto this scorpion at Vellore while walking at night. Thank goodness for Folu’s fine-tuned night vision!

5) Elephant Drinking Water

We saw many elephants on this trip, but watching this elephant drink water in its natural habitat was so unique. It felt like we were in a scene from Animal Planet!

4) Large Spider in our Kitchen

A special late night surprise Patrick found in our kitchen at Gudalur.

3) Large Moth in our Kitchen

We first thought this was a bat! It flew into our house in Gudalur one night (and almost into Molly’s face) and flapped all around our kitchen. The first time Morgaine tried to put it outside, it flew right back in! It’s quite beautiful after you get over the fear of it landing on your face.

2) Touch-Me-Nots at Gudalur

Touch-Me-Nots were everywhere in Gudalur! Upon touch, their leaves close up and their branches bend down. Really cool.

1) Leeches at the Tea Estate

The hike to the tea estate was beautiful. Initially, the jeep rides were bumpy and steep, but once we got out the vast greenness and low clouds was breathtaking. We were at 3,000 feet in altitude  (tea is best grown from 3,000 to 5,000 feet, we learned), surrounded by acres and acres of tea leaves.

We soon walked into muddier areas, and by the screeches of everyone (mine and Molly’s especially), it was clear we were in Leech Country. They don’t hurt, they don’t transmit anything, but they are SO disgusting looking! The leeches point upwards on mud, dirt, and leaves, twirling and squirming around, hoping to latch onto flesh. And boy were they were successful.

After being bitten between my toes, Dr. Chandy helped me pull the fat leech off. The anti-coagulant in leeches made me bleed for about an hour or two after the bite. Molly tried pulling a leech off her foot but it ended up sucking her finger... David had about five leeches on him. There was one, which he didn’t discover until a long while after, was so plump with blood when it fell off!

In the end, we learned how tealeaves are picked and how black tea is made. I still think leeches are gross, and I even had a nightmare about them the other night. But I can’t deny that the day was so much fun and exciting, and the scenery was mesmerizing. As for the leeches, we’ll just have to think of it as blood donation to the wild. It was well worth it!

BONUS CREATURE! I forgot about this guy.. not sure what he is, but that's a lot of legs!

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