Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lovely Lola and Me!

I have come to an awareness in my life that you can experience just about anything ... for the right price. For example, in Alaska next year, I have the opportunity to fly in a helicopter to the top of a glacier and mush a dog sled. Now, I’m a mom who lives in Southern California (not exactly dog-mushing material) but, for the right price ... I can mush a dog sled, if I choose to. This shows you the mindset I am in while at the Port of Ensenada when I spot this lovely creature ... an energetic three-month old tiger named Lola.

Little Lola sits in a playpen of sorts, not really a cage but she is pretty well contained. Now, for the right price (a donation to help care for endangered and wild animals) I can hold Lola and have my photo taken with her. We are also able to take photos ourselves once their ‘official’ photo has been taken. Am I game for this? Absolutely I am!

The excitement level started rising within me the moment I realized this once-in-a-lifetime possibility was in fact a reality. All I could think of was, “I’m about to hold a tiger.”

Which soon turned to, “I am holding a tiger.”

This became my mantra.

As I sat down on the bench in their portrait area, one handler grabbed her camera (a small point-n-shoot) while the other handler went to retrieve little Lola. I say “little” loosely because afterall, she was just three-months old and not quite as large as her parents, I’m sure. But, she was by no means miniature as she was roughly the size of a full-grown Basset Hound ... and just about as weighty. He brought Lola over to me, enticing her with a bottle of liquid she very obviously loved to drink.

Now, I’m a cat person. I have two cats myself and I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t have a cat in my life. Obviously, Lola is not a domesticated cat ... she’s a tiger. But, they are of the same ‘family’ so to speak. So, I do understand there are a few behaviors and moods a cat can be in. One is the “I’m tired and lazy and I think I’ll just curl up here and rest for a bit, all the while being cute and cuddly.” Another is “I’m awake and wired and I just want to play and act crazy and show you how cute my teeth and claws are.

I got the latter Lola.

I was instructed to hold Lola securely under her arms with her face away from mine (which proved to be the most challenging!) and she was placed in my lap. Her low, guttural growling (you know, like a real tiger) is what hit me first. I couldn’t believe how ‘wildlife’ it really was! Next, was her feel. Her fur was coarser than I thought it would be. She was very clean, she just wasn’t as soft as I expected. And she was strong. I have often heard people describe some animals as being all muscle and up until now I only had an imagined knowledge of what that meant. Now I know. And it’s not only in my imagination that at just three months ... Lola could probably do some damage if she wanted to.

I am holding a tiger.”

From the moment lovely Lola was placed in my lap the squirming and excitement never stopped. Handler #1 kept getting her attention with the bottle while Handler #2 tried to get both me and Lola to look at the camera at the same time for our photo. That in itself was comical. I wasn’t so concerned about this photo as I had my wonderful hubby, Rod, in the background rapid firing the whole experience with his camera. I was more interested in Handler #1 as he really tried to get Lola to cooperate. I had a firm grip on Lola, but by now she somehow spun around and was literally facing me ... not so good with those teeth biting down on anything and everything within her reach. At one point she had two paws with claws wrapped around my right arm and her mouth was going everywhere ... oh, and don’t forget that guttural growling to enhance the ambiance!

I am holding a tiger.

 So, did Lola bite me? Well, of course she did. Not bad though (she didn’t even break the skin) but I do have a mark to prove it. She also scratched me with her claws. It was awesome! I was mauled by a tiger!

And then it was over. It was time to say goodbye to lovely Lola. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Although I don’t think the opportunity will present itself often. Here in the states we just don’t have wild animals in a booth waiting to be held (and I’m sure for good reason). But, I did experience holding a tiger ... lovely Lola ... and that has to be on the list of coolest things I have ever done.

Lunch and a Two-Hour Nap
We picked up all our packages from the excursion and went to board the ship. Bringing wine back onto the ship was easy. We simply had to go to the Security table and trade our five bottles of wine for two slips of paper. Seemed like a good deal. We immediately headed up to the Lido for our fill of food ... at this point we were pretty hungry. We then decided to go back to the cabin and relax a bit. Rod put a movie on and then looked shocked as I changed into an oversized T-shirt, pulled the blankets down and got under the covers on the bed. “What are you doing?”

I’m taking a nap.”

I guess all that excitement ... tours, scandals, wine tasting, bargaining and Lola ... really wore me out. It was a great day for sure and even though it was only 2 p.m. I was spent. So, with thoughts of margaritas and tigers I powered down to sleep.

I will always relish that blissful two hours in our cabin.

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