Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Don't let their casual llama smiles fool you.

You have to hand it to Spanish Fork (or The Fark, if you’re hip). They create festivities you didn’t know you’d needed until, all of a-sudden, they're there. As if planting a gorgeous Hare Krishna temple in the midst of cow pie Utah was not spectacle enough, the local spiritual peeps felt pressed to celebrate the llama. Annually. In some moment of Zen-like curiosity and wonder, they decided, once and for all, that there must be llamas. Hundreds and hundreds of them, to boot. And, owning up to that same curiosity (minus the Zen), we clamored for everything llama. We heard about the $3 admission price and decided, all at once, “Yeah, that’s worth it.”

I visited the temple and its llamas for my second time not very long ago. The thing that lured me there my first year was landing myself a llama on a T-shirt. I didn’t know why I had to have it. Just that I didn’t have such a thing yet. Volunteered for a couple of hours under the tyrannical rule of some woman I forget in name (but certainly not in demeanor) making vegetarian pizzas. It got me in free and got me a $10 shirt, no less. My temporary “boss” was a crazy bit of a slavedriving sort that I recall. I also recall those two hours seeming not unlike an eternity. In the end, the shirt wasn’t of the design they led to believe it would be, it shrunk two sizes in the wash and I missed the entire llama rodeo because I was spreading tomato sauce on pita bread. Nevertheless, I returned. I craved more llama.

This time out, I doubt we stayed more than two hours. It was plenty long enough. Was close enough to hear someone get spit on by a llama, got to feed a lot of them (feeling their strange, vacuum-like llama lips on our palms), got scared by getting too near even more and even watched them try to get forced through an obstacle course. This is where I noticed how resolute this animal can be. The course generally consisted of llamas stepping up onto platforms and stepping down again. One particularly dangerous feat involved leading them through what appeared to be an abandoned van, the out again. Consensus? Most won’t do what you want them to do and, even when they do, llamas know little more than walking and eating. You can try to teach a llama new tricks, certainly, but chances are nothing you want to happen will happen. Gentle giants? Hardly. They're not fooling me for a second, either.
See this? On the left, you see Melanie smiling. On the right, you’ll see a black llama smiling. Only their smiles differ quite a lot. Hers says, “Hey, I bought a Ziploc mess of crumbled granola bars and old corn for a buck! I get to feed it to this strange beast for free! Lllama llama llama!” Being one who is more or less fluent in llama, however, I can reveal with some certainty that his grin says, “She came in here with 10 fingers, but she’s going out with eight.”
This would be the calm before the storm. This is just before he permanently disfigured Melanie. It was a dark afternoon at the Petting Zoo. She forgave him later, even feeding him from her newly bandaged hand.
A rare moment here with the Baby Llama. Notice the wink? Llamas can be particularly fresh when they wanna be. He didn’t stray far from the Mama Llama, but he was throwing out these winks like nobody’s business.
Children are sensitive creatures. They can sense things. Remember the kid who could see dead people? Well then. Though her brother seems rightly intrigued, the older sister knows better than to approach Wee Llama. The ever-watchful Mama Llama packs a mean hoof to the head. She is no respecter of persons. She’ll take the kiddies out and close things out with a tappity tap dance on their mama’s head. Sister knows this. She knows all of it. She even knows the Broadway tune Mama L. will be whistling while she taps even. This is why they keep their distances.
This llama is nonplussed. There’s a fine line between nonplussed and ferocious but, really, she’s just bored. She’s also full. She doesn’t NOT want to, as his shirt urges, feel the love.
No Entry Llama, while owning a curious name, was behind bars for some unknown crime. He heavy breathing proved he was fierce. Look closely and observe the scowl.
This is that same guy from behind. And what a behind it is—bet he’s produced his share of throw rugs in his day. There was little kicking happening, but it’s because people knew better than to mess with No Entry Llama. Even scarier were his brothers: No Trespassing and Keep Out. All three were the kinds of llamas that will have you waking up and screaming into the night. Beware.
Llama lies! Especially that “gentle” part.
This is me, approaching a llama as he was in the process of relieving himself. He seemed so relaxed and at peace with the world (a rarity!) that I knew I could get this close and not worry about being charged. Luckily, my instincts proved correct. Drawback? It was pretty stanky. Don’t try this one at home. If, well, you have a llama in your home. And, if you do, you know what I'm talking about.

Observe the llama. They look part rabbit, don’t they? And it appears that, with eyes that gargantuan, they can see right and left, but not front and back so easily. If you’re going to approach him with a carrot, do so from the side. Just do it slowly. A spooked llama drops his ears like lightning! Makes me shiver to remember it.
Tara does not trust the llama. She knows of its spit. She has felt of its nasty tongue whilst feeding it. But she wants to hug the llama. She wants to quiet the beast within. Still, she knows—as her “too scared to not totally smile” look can attest—that she is a crazy person to attempt a llama hug.
She went for it anyway. Bravery, thy name is Tara. Although, to be fair, this may be a reindeer. I can’t rightly tell from the photo. Maybe she got confused and got Rudolph in a choke hold. What’s most important, though, is that she scored her hug. And, good heavens, she’s happy about it!
Tara is more a man than I am. I mean that in a good way. This pose was as close as I dared to go. It lasted exactly two seconds. I am ashamed at my lack of spine. Let's move on.
Behold! These bold llamas are rather picturesque. That’s all I have to say about that. Other than they seem to resemble those really crazy feathered hens. You know the ones I mean, don’t you? Which came first, the chicken or the llama? A question for the ages.
Strangely shorn llamas, Melanie, temple and tiny Tara, more or less in that order. This was taken just before an event that has an angry llama chasing those owners of fast feet down a cobblestone street, sending the slow and foolish flying over walls. The winner gets an authentic llama rug. The losers are lucky to escape with their lives. We didn’t stick around for that part, though. I wonder how it turned out?

Until next year then … when we return, clamoring for more.


Marie said...

You had me at "llama."

That first picture may be my favorite llama pic ever.

Their cousins, the camels, are also deceptively benign. Approach at your peril.

Cindy said...

Ha ha! Llamas! Here's another evil one:

Sherpa said...

My fave is Tara with her eyes closed hugging the llama---with a big teethy-llama smile on her mouth. That picture rocks.

So does the llama's expression in the picture right below. That's a content llama.

ewesa said...

hahaha! dainon you are being funny

Bawdy said...

Thank you for capturing my brief moment of Llama Love! Genius! I have to say that your interpretation of Llama fest 2007 literally had me in tears! By the way...That hug totally made up for the nasty corn dogs on the way home!!

This is Erudite Travel...and I'm that girl... said...

Interesting. Did you get to sit on the floor and sing Hare Krishna in the temple? I almost wonder if that was really part of llamafest or they were actually initiating me into the religion, and I was blindly singing my proclamation of faith to them.....I guess I'll never know.

Parisian Cowboy said...

these llamas seem rather well behaved.

Dainon said...

I did the whole sitting on the floor thing for a while, but escaped before the singing started. They prolly shaved people's heads after that for all I know.

f*bomb. said...

I want to wrap my entire body around that fuzzy-llama's giagantic neck.

Andrea Jolene said...

I'm a friend of Miss Tara B's - and had to connect to your blog when she mentioned Llama Fest (clearly - who could resist?) And I'm glad I did! I'm also glad you made it back with your life and limnbs - ya'll's ward lives on the edge. My ward mainly eats cookies and wanders around the cemetary. The dead are safe (or ARE they?)Thanks for the laugh.

TRIBU said...

I thought the running of the bulls was dangerous...running of the mama llamas with projectile spit is a whole other way to risk life and limb. Facsinating blogumentary!!