I've returned from the Elephant Nature Park! I can't describe how amazing the experience was... so I'll just share what I wrote in my journal:
I'm very sad... The reality of the experience is hitting me just now. I loved my time in ENP. From the bonfire to hopping on the back of a truck filled with corn, digging around to find a cob to eat as we drove through the jungle, villages and farmland. I loved quoting 10 things I hate about you with Tori while de-husking corn, and all the volunteers and mahouts gathering around me to watch me draw. And the variety of people here... I shoveled elephant poo with the scifi writer who gave one of my favorite children's book illustrator/writers his big break (SHAUN TAN). I love this town and how the people joke and laugh. I can feel that there is a reason for each person I've met on this trip, that their stories and influences are important, some more than others but significant nevertheless.
And waking up to hear a choir of dogs, roosters and elephants every morning, retiring to bed with dirty feet from the dust, tired from the labor, full from the delicious food (pad siew everydayyyyyy!!) and happy because I accomplished something grand. Seriously, the sand task was the most tiring... Trekking to the beach, shoveling sand into giant sacks (10 volunteers filled about 200 bags of sand), loading them on to the truck bed, then emptying them into the elephant pens. We made two big mounds for the babies to enjoy. We weren't even done loading all the sand but had to escape because the babies were RUNNING to get to the sand. And they doooove trunk first, kicking and trumpeting. Seeing our 3 hours worth of work demolished and destroyed in a matter of seconds was worth it. Then to linger by their pens, watching them play and Lek (the beautiful soul responsible for the park) sing que sera to lull them to sleep...!!! Once the baby was asleep, Justine and I were invited in. The world felt so small in that moment, like it all fit in that little elephant. Oh, and how she snored! SO LOUD! I rested my hands on her stomach as she slept and gave her all the love I could possibly summon.