Monday, June 18, 2012

The Elephant Experience

       Words cannot describe this experience. However, I promised I'd write, so I will attempt to explain. My arms are covered in scratches from carrying pineapple leaves. The mosquitos have made it look as if I've contracted smallpox. I appear as though I have been sitting in the rain, even when the sun is out. Those things could not possibly matter less when you spend the day with your elephant and mahout.
       The camp is rustic, but the people? They are kinder than any others. The elephants tower over me, but they nudge me gently with their trunks. My mahout and I speak half English, half Thai. He wants to learn, I want to learn. We point, we exchange words, we laugh. Thailand is truly "The Land of Smiles."
       Lunch was a stressful experience. I ate my sticky rice, worried about the impromptu surgery at the camp. My elephant stepped on a bottle, and I learned that big things that seem indestructable can be brought down by small things, in this case, a piece of glass smaller than a penny. However, a mahout is an owner, a trainer, and a vet, and many together can repair an injury.
       Then, we sit on a wooden platform, not talking, not working, just watching. My elephant is a picky eater, abandoning half of the plant, only to eat it later in the day. I can hear a rumbling in her trunk, and she sways back and forth, almost as if she is dancing.
       To ride is, at first, a precarious experience. You must balance, tucking your legs behind the giant, flapping ears. Soon, it is second nature. I sing some Etta James to her, and she grazes. I lay down on top of her head and mutter things to her. She may not respond to my commands yet, but it's important that she hear my voice. Soon, she will know me, and that is unreal.

She could eat all day.

Big Scratch!
It's love.

The view from above.


  1. Loving the posts!!! You look amazing and so does your Elephant. Does she have a name? Have you been enjoying the food? I think I'd be in heaven with all the pad thai I want. ;) So happy to hear you are loving it. Big squeeze being sent your way.

  2. Love the picture of you riding her! What's her name?

  3. Looks like you're having so much fun!!! Love the pictures and can't wait to keep reading :)