Today is the day that every volunteer has been waiting for. At 8:30 AM we board our bus for the 2 hour drive to the Elephant Refuge. Unlike yesterdays bus we have this one all to ourselves. One of our volunteers (who shall remain unnamed) thought it would be a good idea to chug 1.5 liters of water before getting on the bus. As you could imagine he couldn’t hold that much liquid for too long and forced 5 minute toilet break for him self on the side of the road (okay, it was definitely Zak).
At around 10:30 we arrive. This place is a paradise. The refuge is 25,000 acres and for the next week we will be living on its edge in a clearing surrounded by jungle. We have our own vegetable garden to grow and harvest our own food (All meals are vegetarian here) and sleep in bungalows made of bamboo.
After lunch and orientation the volunteers met some of the more lively members of the refuge community: the monkeys. The refuge houses a monkey rehabilitation center that saves monkeys from abusive domestic circumstances (pets, street performing) and trains them to go back to the wild. We watched as the monkeys taunted the local dogs for fun and one volunteer got too close for comfort with one of the Macaques (ehm… ehm… Hannah)
Before we could meet the stars of the show (the elephants), the volunteers prepared an offering. Sharing 4 machetes we chopped up 30 something watermelons, chucked them in a wheel barrel, and headed to clearing.
At approximately 2PM something big emerged from the jungle. One by one eyes became fixed on the creature. Cameras materialized. Tears of joys were shed. The first of our two elephants had arrived!
As soon as she saw the wheel barrel we knew exactly where she was heading. Each volunteer rushed to grab watermelons as the Muhoots (elephant trainers) distracted the elephants. The photo frenzy went on for about a half an hour before it was time for the ele’s to go back to the jungle.
Following dinner we enjoyed a documentary about the how these elephants were rescued and why this refuge was started in the first place before some late night camp games and show tunes.
Tomorrow the real work begins.
John And Briana