A yogi met us this morning on the lawn by the pool to do stretching. Nine of us were there at 6:30 am and felt great after the session of yoga and meditation. We "om"ed in the land of Om. We had breakfast and at 9 am were on the bus heading to our next adventure.
The distance was about 120 miles which took us almost five hours to drive. The traffic was wild in the city once again plus the potholes were amazing. The Sikh driver says you have to have good eyes, good brakes and good luck. We've only knocked over one motor cyclist and had one good shouting match after a near miss so far. On the drive the wheat fields were being harvested by women in bright colored saris using scythes. Twice we were stopped by herds of camels blocking the road.
On arrival after our dusty, bumpy ride we were greeted with mango juice while we checked into our rooms. After a quick lunch we all went on a canter, an open air vehicle, into the park. Ranthambore was once the private hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur. Tiger heads shot here in the park were on display at the home of the Rajput at dinnertime last night. Rajput is the name used for male descendents of a Maharajah. The last tiger hunt was in 1961. When Indira Gandhi took office in 1970, alarmed by the rapid decline in the tigers, she submitted a bill to Parliament to ban the hunting of tigers. The bill passed unanimously. People were moved from the park land and Ranthambore opened in 1973. It has been a success story. There are about 50 tigers in the park. The total number of tigers left in the world is estimated now at about 1,100-1,200. There are still sad setbacks. Two weeks ago a goat was killed in a village in the buffer zone. The villagers put poison in the goat's carcass and as a result two young male tigers died. The villagers would have been compensated for the dead goat but, apparently, it is a slow process.
The guide on our canter told us that a tiger had made a kill of a deer at about 8:30 am this morning. We drove quite a distance on a dirt track to the spot where the deer carcass was still in the brush. The tiger takes a nap after eating. How civilized! We were hoping to see the tiger come back in late afternoon for a drink of water and to check his kill. It was about 4 pm by then. We sat and waited in the heat for about 45 minutes when the tiger appeared. I could have cried! What a gorgeous animal and his face was magnificent. He dragged the deer up further into the brush and then walked down to the water and climbed in the water. He laid down and lapped the water leisurely and then emerged on the bank and rolled around on the ground a bit and wandered off. We felt so happy to have seen this wonderful big cat. We were all thrilled as we headed back to our lodge for supper as the shadows were lengthening. I must mention some of the other animals we spotted on our drive in the jungle. There were many langur monkey families, a mongoose, kingfishers, peacocks, yellow canaries, baby marsh crocodiles, a lizard, and two types of deer, the spotted deer and the Sambar deer. The spotted deer are very similar to the white-tail in MI but the young are without spots while the adults have spots. The Sambar deer are quite large.
On a sad personal note, I learned today that my beloved cousin, Colleen, died yesterday. From her first visit to the doctor to her passing was about a week. She had an extremely aggressive cancer. Charley and her two sons were with her. She was the "O" of the "OK" girls. She was bowlegged and I was knock-kneed. She was a joy to have in my life so I am thankful to have all my happy memories of our times together. When I get to the holy city of Varanasi, I will put flowers in the sacred waters of the Ganges for her.