Day five at the sanctuary and we sadly woke up lacking motivation. We are tired. We are not accustomed to the manual labor and harsh heat. You can imagine how we are lacking some inspiration when our morning routine usually includes shoveling massive amounts of smelly poo . Today’s session was especially festive when I got some on my arm and leg. I thought the day was doomed. I convinced myself it was good luck instead.
After we finished the morning ritual, we headed in the back of a pickup down to a market a half an hour away to get food for the monkeys and more bananas for the elephants. We strolled the market buying pastries and we even got free fruit for being volunteers. The language barrier and confusion with money did not stop us, although they seemed to be laughing at us a lot.
When we got back it was perfect timing for lunch. Mel was especially stoked for the french fries. The day was looking up! After lunch, we grabbed a bunch of bananas each and some sugar cane and headed to the dam to feed the elephants while they bathe. We waited under a bamboo hut for their arrival. It never gets old. They came right up to us.
Dipoh arrived first, then the other two, Sarai Mia and Arun Reah shortly behind her. The sanctuary is trying to get them all acquainted better. Elephants bond just as humans do and Sarai Mia and Arun Reah have already formed that bond. Now they are just waiting for Dipoh to get more comfortable. Dipoh was a bit more chipper today and she started eating bananas, something she was not accustomed to in the poor village she was living. She also was not as shy with taking food from us. It’s amazing to see progress in just five days of spending time with the elies. We watched them head down to the bath while they ate and drank the dam water. We were lucky enough to witness Sarai Mia playing in the water for the first time. It was the most wonderful thing to witness. They were never allowed to play in their past lives. Milestones like this is what the Mahouts, trainers, and volunteers alike all wait for. They hope she teaches the others to enjoy the water more, too. We stood by and giggled while she was fully under water tossing her head from side to side. Everything we lacked this morning washed away with the spirit of the elephant.
When we ran out of food they started grazing, so we walked back to the kitchen to make some food for them later.
We got an hour break so Mel and I took that time to hand wash our clothes. They are covered in all sorts of dirt and dust and our time here is coming to an end. At four we fed the elephants again by the shelter. Today hopping from elephant to elephant was the culmination at feeding time. They are all so different. Dipoh eats slow and shyly, Sarai Mia likes to be picky and likes a lot in her trunk, Arun Reah eats pretty fast as well and is always next to Sarai Mia. Khamlin is the gentle one.
We closed the night with wine, beer, and dinner while hearing about the future here at CWS. Starting in July they will have electricity, which will help the sanctuary flourish. They hope to be able to rescue two elephants that are in a nearby zoo but it would be a game changer to have a male elephant on the property. They will kill to get to a mate, so they need plenty of securely closed acres so no one is harmed. We walked back with the almost full moon lighting the way to the bungalow where we hope to get plenty of rest for our last full day with the elephants.