I awoke and it was daylight already - the first time in my two weeks here at Elephant Nature Park. I had been setting my alarm clock for 6:00am but was always awake before then. The last couple of days I haven’t bothered, so this morning I slept through and was surprised by the light filling the room, it was 6:25am and the day had started without me!
This morning our group had the Ele-Walk scheduled as or morning chore, as you may have read before, it’s not work at all, but a leisurely walk around the park with lots of photo opportunities. There were many highlights and one of them was leading Jokia and her companion Mae Perm back towards the group of volunteers. I almost felt like a Mahout .... if only for a few minutes!
After the walk we had to clean out the main mud pit, the water is changed and several of us broke up the surrounding ring of earth with hoes. It wasn’t long before the first handful of warm sloppy mud was flung and it was 'game on' from there. Within fifteen minutes we were all covered from head to toe in reddish-brown goop. A clean up in the river was necessary before heading back to our rooms for a proper shower.
After lunch we had a group photo and then took several wheelbarrows around the park and out onto the main road cleaning up any garbage, we sorted five full barrows into recyclable material and the rest to be disposed of.
We were swimming down at the river when Navann and his mother and aunt came down for their bath. It was wonderful to have an opportunity to be so close to him and this time I was not standing back from the action taking photos!
After bath time the family headed up to the steps and Navann was very playful and inquisitive. Lek took some great photos of that cute baby pushing against me, he weighs a considerable amount and it was hard for me not to be completely pushed over. He has so much coarse bristly hair on him, but his skin is like soft leather. Again at the scratching log he came over and used me as a rubbing post. It was just unbelievable and probably the highlight of my stay. Thank you Lek and Heather for these beautiful pictures.
Tonight was the traditional dinner and I shared a table with Annie the long-term volunteer and Benjamin and Sarah from France. It was a delightful evening and an excellent way to end week two and an unbelievable day.