Megs the She Devil and Kaewta
This morning we retrieved the elephants from the jungle and took them down to the river for a bath. We (more like the elephants) had to forge a new path through the jungle. I followed the elephants on foot in full mahout garb- flip flops, shorts, and a cap sleeve shirt. Just as I was noticing that this place was an entomologist's Disneyland, Gary (an Australian volunteer, here to give Phot english and business lessons) asks … "Ever seen a cobra before?" Before I went any further, I had to convince myself they had anti-venom for every snake in this jungle. True or not- that is what I was gonna believe.
I rode Sidooh again- he's uhh… the most lively of the three elephants here at the refuge. As he bathes himself, he twists and turns his head underwater.
If I hold on tight enough, he takes me under with him. If I don't, he whips me off into the current. It's all Juke (his mahout) could do to keep himself on Sidooh, while repeatedly retrieving me from the current before it whisked me away.
Getting food for the kids
After our bath, we made our way back through the jungle to camp. I could only marvel at the beauty that surrounded me. In every direction I looked, I saw only mountains and jungle. Back home, the horizon is riddled with homes and sky-rise buildings. But not here. We slowly made our way through the jungle and as I bobbed up and down to the rhythm of Sidooh's steps, Juke was singing a beautiful folk song in his native Thai. I was absorbed with a feeling of tranquility.
Megs took this one. I think it's one of the best of me and Kaewta.
Soon, we came to a path with low hanging, thorn-bearing tree branches all along the way. Juke went onto Sidooh's neck so that he could use his machete-like tool to cut the branches away. I found myself on Sidooh's bare back with nothing to grip on to. I had to divide my attention between dodging Juke's flailing machete, balancing myself on top of Sidooh's back and fighting off fire ants (mot •daang) that were falling out of the trees onto my head, neck, back… my everything! I enjoyed myself immensely.
When we got back to camp, we had a great breakfast. After that, we cleared a nearby corn field and brought back the stalks for the elephants to eat. It was really entertaining to watch the elephants search through and feast upon the few ears of corn left on the stalks. The ears of corn were "nuggets" of deliciousness.
This afternoon we went down to the village swimming spot along the River Kwai.
I got to climb a tree and jump into the water with the local kids. The water was a bit shallow and the tree was quite high. Needless to say, I'm not walking as well as I was this morning. I'm just not as young and ah… light anymore. I fall harder than I used to. I bit my lip and hobbled back to camp on my bum foot. On my way back, I helped pick mangos. I picked and ate the best mango I have ever had. It had just the right sweet and sour ratio to satisfy my palette.
Sidoh loves the ladies. Just like his mahout. Right, Juke? hehe
We took the elephants for their afternoon bath and once again, I had to hang on to Sidooh for dear life. I swear he does it on purpose. After the bath, we returned the elephants to the jungle for the night. On our way, Sidooh grabbed a few snacks- chomping on anything his mahout (Juke) would let him get his trunk on. These guys never stop eating. At one point, we came upon a sign of civilization- power-lines.
High up on Sidooh's back, I found myself swinging right at them. As I swung towards them I recalled the shock I had received from the bathroom light the night before. It really hurt- the worst shock I had ever received. Anyway, I managed to suppress a squeal as my body swung right into the power-lines. Nothing happened. I'm still alive.
A happy girl.
As we tied the elephants up in the jungle, Juke and the other mahouts spotted a wild chicken. I found myself hobbling through the jungle on my bum foot, following them around as they searched for the chicken's eggs. They came up with nothing, but I was quite impressed that they even tried.
After dinner, we went searching for wild elephants in a sugar cane field a few kilometers away from the camp. They ended up out-smarting us, but it was still a great experience. In the past, snipe hunting was the closest I ever got to anything like it.
How was your day?