The path before me seemed somehow inviting - a thick tree-enshrouded passageway through the dense jungle that surrounded us all. My friends sprawled among the crumbling walls of an ancient temple now reclaimed by the greenery and all its inhabitants. Lounging in the shade, away from the spirit-sapping humidity, a hundred monkeys chatted about their new guests.
I hoisted my weapons to a more comfortable position and continued into the shady green of the path. Stepping over snaking roots and choking vines, I walked toward what a guide had said might be the river we wanted. It was late afternoon and ground mist swirled around my boots. Bats glided under the canopy, hunting some of the billions of insects that sang a constant serenade.
The bank opened up onto the river, idling by under a cathedral dome of endless trees, and I leaned on the trunk of one as I watched the velvet shadows stretch across the green. It grew quiet. Almost imperceptibly, as if the jungle heads its breath. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Slowly, with causal motion, I slid from the tree trunk and brought my weapon to the ready, turning fluid as I did.
Before me in the violet shadows, impossibly quiet, stood an elephant, blinking passively at me as the boy on its shoulders peered down at me, pointing to the water. Lowering the weapon, now so out of place, I watched the giant slip past and into the stream, the shy smile of its rider affirming what I had begun to suspect for sometime.