The lunch bell rings at Elephant Nature Park at noon.
Had we really already been there a few hours?
The time so far has flown by.
And, while I love that the experiences were that supremely amazing thus far, I don’t want the week to fly by. I want to savor every single moment and feel every single second. Especially those times I was with the elephants.
I’ve been there a short time and I already never want to leave.
We approached the main area and that’s when I see the food.
Just outside of the massive kitchen are two long tables. And, on top of those tables are pan after pan after pan of home-cooked Thai food.
Before coming to the park, I had read about the food from other people. It had received nothing but rave reviews, and now, displayed on two tables are more Thai dishes than I can ever imagine.
There’s Pad Thai. Three types of curry. Tofu prepared 10 different ways. Taro chips. Salads. Lychee. Rice. Soup. And more.
My eyes bulge and I realize I’m really hungry.
I load up my plate with a little bit of everything and head to one of the long wooden tables that looks out onto the park. In the distance, I see two elephants in a green shelter. The medical shelter. Further out, there are more. And water buffalo. About 100 of them, grazing in the long grass and sloshing in the puddles.
Everyone in the volunteer group are instantly friends. Lucy, Katy and I talk about re-entry. By the end of our first lunch, I feel like this group of people, this experience with this group of people, will be one of the most memorable experiences in my life.
We finish eating, then Jack tells us its time for our next activity: bathing the elephants.
He reminds us to respect Thai culture and not walk around in our swimsuits, but instead put them on underneath of our clothes.
I run to my backpack (we would get our room assignments later), grab a pair of shorts, a T-shirt, my bathing suit and my water shoes, and quickly change.
Bathing elephants! Being able to stand next to these creatures in a river and dump water on them! Excitement pounds through my veins as we make our way down to the river bank and the elephants, wading in the rushing water.