After our morning tasks, yes more leamok, we were sent to work on the farm. We uprooted small banana trees and replanted them giving them a larger ground space for growth. An elephant eats about 66 pounds of bananas a day so it’s important to keep the trees thriving for them. We also planted bean seeds which will start off in tiny compost bags before planting them into the earth.After lunch we all piled into the back of a pickup truck and went to the local school which consisted of one large hut divided in two classrooms for about 80 children. School starts in the afternoon as the children can help at home before school. The teachers were late so we were honored with the task! With heads peaking out of the window, we entered the room to loud “Hellos” in English, so loud they nearly knocked me over with their energy! There was a huge language barrier but we quickly fixed that with counting to ten, saying the English alphabet and a classic game of head, shoulders, knees, and toes. We spent the afternoon here and left with handing out stickers to everyone and high fives all around.
We arrived back just in time to make dinner for the elephants. By day three we knew what we were doing and started without hesitation. Feeding time is my favorite interaction with the elephants. My favorite to feed is Dipoh, she is the newest elephant here at the sanctuary. She was not abused before coming here, which isn’t common, but her mahout had died and she had no one to care for her. Tonight she was shy while eating, come to find out it was because she was homesick. I know it seems crazy for an elephant to be homesick but they are the third smartest mammals, behind dolphins and humans. Their brains are similar to humans. Being on the road, I easily know the feeling of being homesick. I felt for her today and slowly fed her dinner reminding her that we all feel this way but we need to eat to gain energy and strength.
Our nightly routine with the other volunteers is a beer on ice before our bucket showers. As hot and long as the day may seem, this time of day is one of my favorites. The elephants are fed, the sun is setting and beer on ice never tasted so good. Not to be confused with ice cold beers, there’s no electricity here, so it’s beer on ice. As our favorite English moms from our previous volunteer gig would say, “cheers big ears!”