africa part 2: making friends with elephants

introduction + africa part 1
africa part 2
africa part 3
africa part 4

happy new year, everyone! i seriously cannot believe the holidays are all over! hope they were amazing for everyone. they were a whirlwind on our end, but so much fun to see so much family and out-of-town friends. why does that time always go so fast?

it has been a while since i've blogged, but now that it's the new year, i thought i'd get back on the wagon and hit the ground running. i still feel like i have so much to recap from last year and plan for our trips this year. eeeee! 

since it's a little more than 20 degrees here in KC, i'm still dreaming of africa and mexico (more on that later) and the warmer, sunnier temps. le sigh...

while these photos may not cure the cold weather blues entirely, i'm hoping they at least help a little! so, back to africa we go! so we saw lions and cheetahs on the first day and day two of our african journey led us to this darling place: the elephant sanctuary.

our friend mark had been here before so he knew what to expect, but we had no idea. we were greeted by one of the guides, simba (no joke, that was his name and he was wonderful!), and led into the monkey sanctuary. i didn't realize the elephant one even existed and then we were treated to monkeys too! it was a fun surprise and i basically wanted to quote "Madagascar" the entire time (lemurs not pictured). 

 the cool thing about this area was that the monkeys were just chillin' in their natural habitat. each day, the trainers set food out, but otherwise they are left alone to climb, sleep, eat and clean each other like they are here!

the cool thing about this area was that the monkeys were just chillin' in their natural habitat. each day, the trainers set food out, but otherwise they are left alone to climb, sleep, eat and clean each other like they are here!

 this monkey reminded me so much of a human; it was weird! the facial expressions, noshing on his lunch, his mannerisms. so funny!

this monkey reminded me so much of a human; it was weird! the facial expressions, noshing on his lunch, his mannerisms. so funny!

 this bridge reminded me of indiana jones or something. and it swayed enough for me to run as fast as i could over it :)

this bridge reminded me of indiana jones or something. and it swayed enough for me to run as fast as i could over it :)

after seeing the monkeys, we got to main event: the gorgeous elephants! normally the center allows people to actually ride on the elephants, but the teenaged elephants have not been feeling the love lately so they are not available at the moment. sounds just like real teenagers! but while that was a bit of a bummer, i'm so glad we got to interact with them by feeding them, watching this one pictured below suck down a five-gallon bucket of water in 12 seconds flat (yes, you read that right) and walking them by their trunks. they are huge animals, but so calm and peaceful. i loved every minute of it!

 look at the size of those paws!

look at the size of those paws!

 mark and leah getting acquainted with a new friend.

mark and leah getting acquainted with a new friend.

 never has he ever walked a lion!

never has he ever walked a lion!

 geniuine reactions: take 1!

geniuine reactions: take 1!

what a(nother) crazy day! in only two days, we started to get a really good idea of what africa is all about and i did not hate it! not one bit. can't wait for you to see what we have cooking up in 2016!