I was picked up this morning and 90 minutes after leaving the hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai City, saw my first elephant. Not a circus elephant. Not a trekking elephant. Not a logging elephant. Just a sweet old lady who is living out her days with as much freedom as she can after years of horrendous abuse and being unable to return to the wild.
There she was, just giving herself a dusting and hanging out in the sun. So miraculous!
After getting checked in, assigned to a room and a fantastic lunch, we had our orientation. I knew it would be hard for me because I knew this is where we learned about the atrocities that elephants endured before being rescued and brought to ENP. Within 20 minutes, I was in tears and had to listen to 40 more minutes of story after story of what happened to these beautiful creatures. The last 30 seconds was video of Lek (founder of ENP) singing to an elephant as the elephant died. It was truly heartbreaking. I just don’t understand how humans can do some of the things that they do.
Afterward, we had some free time, which I needed to sort through some of my feelings about what I had just watched. Luckily, our Volunteer Coordinator, Art, started things off on a lighter note informing us that we need to be careful as we work because Thailand has 2 season: hot and fucking hot. Lucky for me, I think I arrived in the hot season since I haven’t completely melted yet. Tomorrow work begins!