October 5, 2014

elephant poo

today's my day to get up close to the elephant poo.  we are in a bit of a rush as they are taking the volunteers on a field trip to a local primary school and we need to finish quickly so there's an extra team on the chore this morning and it goes quite quickly.  it takes less than an hour for us to muck out 12 or so of the elephant pens.  the pens are the sleeping areas for the elephants.  they are concrete and have been built since my last trip when the elephants were chained by the foot at night inside a shelter so they would not roam off the property.  cleaning the pens is not so bad as the elephants are vegetarians and not so stinky.

we are off to the primary school to practice some english and it's a pretty  nice school.  they have chairs and desks and chalkboards as well as activities for the kids.  we make some bracelets together and learn a rope jumping game.  the children seem happy and well cared for.

we shoot back to the park for lunch.  did i mention the food here is fantastic.  everyone is loving the food even though it's all vegetarian.

next we head out for some afternoon chores.  they call it fertilizing but that's really just a nice way of saying we're bagging elephant poo for the other half of the volunteer team to spread around some newly planted trees.  it is really hot and humid and we fill three bags then sit in the shade for 5 minutes and repeat for about an hour when our coordinators set us free for the afternoon.

 Mae Jan Peng was born in 1945.  she is the oldest elephant at ENP.  she was rescued from a logging camp in 2010.  despite her age she is in good health.  she hangs out with her mahout most of the day and he puts a flower in the big hole in her ear to cover it up.  it makes her easy to spot and identify.

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