Finally! The first rain drops in three months (!) started to fall just a couple of minutes ago. After weeks and weeks of sunshine and heat (we’re up to 40C these days), it’s raining! Oh, how I’ve missed the sound of rain drops… or that cozy feeling when you’re inside, listening to music, enjoying a cup of tea (soy milk in my case… it’s too hot for tea!) and everything stops around you. Even though this is no monsoon rain shower, it is a blessing and should be enough to clean the air, which is dirty, dusty and smoky. I find it increasingly difficult to breathe, and my eyes tend to be red and itchy these days. I haven’t seen the mountains in a long time, as they are constantly covered in a grey cloud of dust. Still, I’m happy it didn’t start to rain this morning when I was out in the fields, cutting banana trees for the elephants (my machete skills are excellent by now).
Besides, low season has started, and I love it! After a hectic January & February, it’s nice to have a break and take things easy. I’ve gotten into the habit of taking a nap after lunch. In addition, I finally found some time to finish a painting project some volunteers started back in November: our restaurant is as colorful (and ugly – but my Thai friend really wanted to use these colours…) as never before!
Yesterday, I got to experience something really cool: the camp’s owner showed me the bones of two elephants that used to live here but died last year. While she initially buried both elephants in the mountains, she decided to build an ‘elephant shrine’ a few months ago. Both skeletons are now on display in a small house, along with two big ropes that her father once used to catch elephants from the wild.
Seeing the bones was a moving experience that I find difficult to describe. I never really thought about the size of elephants or their bones before. Tutdao is massive (about 2.5m in height; 3.5t heavy) but I don’t notice it anymore. I’m just so used to it. As I was standing next to the bones, however, I realised elephants’ enormity. It just made ‘click’. The two elephants’ skeletons were the only thing that was left, but each pile was as big as me. Heck, their femurs and ribs were almost as tall as me! And these were Asian elephants; their African cousins are even bigger… All in all, this experience has added to my admiration for elephants. I wish everybody could spend some time with them and learn about them so more people would be motivated to fight their extinction.
Right, the rain has stopped so I’d better be off to work, i.e. cleaning the pens and feeding the elephants. I’ll try to post more elephant photos and facts in a couple of days, as I haven’t done this in a while!