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[Comments] (1) all things elephant: For Christmas Eve last night all the outsourced couples gathered at Alan and Kerri Erickson's house for a Bangalore Christmas party. We decorated sugar cookies for Santa (and ourselves!), played some gift exchange games (wherein Susie & I totally cleaned up) and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. Each family brought a different tradition and ours was the cookies.

During the gift exchange, we won bacon (imported!), ribs (also imported!), a watch, Crisco (also imported!), and a gingerbread kit. Like I said, we cleaned up. With 10 gifts total in the adult pile, we went home with 5!

Christmas night we set out the gifts. Maggie got legos and Dalton got a Handy Manny tool kit, which is kinda noisy, but a big hit with the kids. Santa brought Dalton a box of 25 balls and Maggie an Elefun! Unfortunately, Elefun does not come with batteries, and Big Bazaar was completely out last night at 9 pm. So Christmas was slightly tainted. However, we found an Office Depot on the way home from our Christmas activity today that actually carries C batteries. Apparently batteries are not common here because most people at the store didn't know what I was looking for.

Today we went to the zoo! The zoo costs $4/person and includes a safari ride. Because we are white, and therefore rich, we got to ride in the front of the bus, have someone snap all of our pictures for us, and didn't have to wait in line. In exchange for all of this, we were coerced into a tip. I gave about $2.50, which is a lot, but it was worth it not to wait in line. I feel like I flew first class today! The safari was totally awesome! We literally saw lions, tigers, and bears, all extremely up close.

We also got to ride an elephant! The kids were free and the elephant ride cost $1.50 per person. Again, we had to tip to have our pictures taken, but that only cost $0.50. Then I held out a coin in my hand and the elephant tried to take it from me. But his aim is poor and his trunk kept getting Maggie, which didn't make her too happy.

The kids were as popular as the animals. One man gave the kids cookies and wanted a picture with Maggie. Maggie was a good sport. Eventually I realized he wanted ME to take a picture with MY camera. What am I supposed to do with this picture? Most people that ask take a picture with their own cameras.

Also, the animals are very accessible here. The zebra was right against the fence and people were petting it, then turning around and pinching Dalton's cheeks. Thanks for the germs people! We only petted the elephants, however, as they are the only animals with zookeepers monitoring the petting process.

The zoo takes 90 minutes each way, which is a bummer. But we had a lot of fun for under US$20. One odd charge, however, is $0.50 to take your camera inside. In comparison, dinner at Domino's cost about the same, although we bought enough pizza for leftovers tomorrow. And those batteries for the elefun cost about half of the trip. In the US, for the whole family, a safari and elephant ride would probably cost hundreds of dollars. Next time I'm going to ask for tips to take pictures with my kids. I could have easily payed for the trip this way!

This is hands down the best Christmas ever!


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