Growing up with a total of seven dogs, 2 cats, one rabbit, a tarantula, and a host of other animals including turtles, hamsters, and fish, I definitely developed a love for animals at an early age. Yet no matter how hard I tried to dress my dogs in capes and call them warriors, none of my domestic pets held any sort of fear in my mind. Chloe, my black labrador retriever just licked my face before getting her feet tangled in the bed sheet tied around her neck.
Superdog, she was not. But I loved her anyways.
After reading The Jungle Book, and discovering the quiet sense of dread, accompanied by a slight tingle up my spine that Sher Khan could induce, I vowed to one day meet this beast, and face an animal that would not love me unconditionally. Over the years I forgot about my fascination with tigers and focused on more tangible life markers: going on my first date, graduating from high school, picking a college, and eventually, a career path.
It wasn’t until years later, when I had quit my job and rerouted my life, that I found myself in a small bookstore in Lima, Peru. Wedged in between Steve Jobs’ biography and Sex & the City was a book that brought back the spark of my youth in a rush of emotions. Black faced with the body of the beast padding slowly across the top, The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht was suddenly in my hands, and out the door. It traveled with me as I hiked the dizzying mountains of Huaraz and sun bathed in the hammocks of Mancora. It spoke of my childhood desires with such intimate detail that seemed too unreal to be true.
It was then that I knew I had to meet my tiger.