18 Jul One week and 37 elephants later….
I can hear the question already: “What did you do!?”
Here is how one participant described their time at Elephant Nature Park (ENP):
“Cold showers, machete grass cutting, pumpkin washing, banana planting, rats, dogs, shoveling ele poo, ele bathing, chilling with local school kids, riding in really sketched trucks, cuts, bites, muscle soreness, lots and lots of Thai food, tubing down a river full of ele poop in the pouring rain and one insanely fantastic week pretty much sums up elephant nature park. Yup.”
I think it’s safe to say we did quite a bit.
We also learned a lot. Want to know the difference between an African and an Asian elephant? Or how many muscles are in an Asian Elephant’s trunk alone? Or how about knowing how to prevent two, 5000 KG animals from making love? We learned how to observe an elephant’s mood. We could tell you how to best shovel elephant dung WITHOUT getting it on someone else. And we know how to cut, bind and carry elephant grass. Maybe most importantly, we also know how to avoid being squashed while walking next to our big friends!
But to end this blog with a collection of cool elephant facts and an impressive list of unusual activities fails to fully capture our week at Elephant Nature Park. Our collective experience was nothing short of phenomenal. The story behind ENP and Lek (ENP’s founder) is admirable, inspirational and unforgettable. The values, work-ethic and unwavering love shown by Lek towards elephants who were abused, tortured and forced to obey through physical violence permeates through the entire organization and leaves a lasting imprint upon those who visit. And the dedication, love and hard-work illustrated by Lek, Antionette, the “kwan chang” (elephant caregivers) and the park staff shows us that when people push their barriers and follow their passions they can finally begin to see that illustrious needle in the haystack.
Maybe it’s not really about how much grass we cut down for elephant feed or how many trees we planted. Maybe it is less about dodging elephant dung and more about spreading the passion from people like Lek and organizations like Elephant Nature Park, and allowing ourselves to become more motivated and inspired students, travelers, global citizens, humans.
So instead of asking “what did we do?” maybe a more meaningful question is “did we learn something (anything) that will stay with us and transform us when the days turn to weeks, when weeks become months, and when months melt into years?”
The answer? You’ll just to have to wait for our return…
With Love from Chiang Mai,
The SEA ECO crew
Next up (the following 3 days): a sit-down session with monks, temple visits, night markets and more! Afterwards, it’s our longest bus ride yet as we make our way to Cambodia!!