I didn’t know if I would have that specific moment during our Surin project. I knew what I wanted to write about and what I was feeling from the beginning of this trip, although last night was when it really sunk in for me. The morning of Friday, our last night in Surin, I felt that everyone was excited for the bbq and the talent show that night. Over the past week all of us had been getting to know each other, the mahouts and the elephants. We have thirteen people together on this trip, all from different backgrounds, upbringings and environments back at home. For about twenty-two days we are together almost 24/7 living, breathing, eating, communicating, and experiencing this project together.
Friday night at the start of the bbq the mahouts all got together and made dinner for us to share and enjoy. You could see that they were excited for the night, sharing a meal, drinking and dancing to come. Our whole group as well has been excited for the night to come to celebrate and let lose. I was sitting with three other mahouts and a couple of my friends and seeing the smiles of the mahouts, it all hit me. This part of the adventure is almost over! Emerging our vastly different cultures together through food and animals and with barely any communication through the English language, this week has been amazing and very fascinating for me. We have built this unspoken bond with the mahouts and the elephants. Simply communicating through smiles, laughter and body language.
This communication through respect, love and bliss that has been the essence of our relationship the past 5 days. Yes the mahouts will meet other volunteers and move forward with the lives they live. Although for us, this past week has touched us for the rest of our lives. Through the elephants and the culture of the village and the social constructs of the mahouts.
I thought that I would be leaving with solely a strong connection and meaning behind meeting and bonding with an elephant but with that I have met and seen the culture of each mahout in this village. I do not know the mahouts outside of the bonds of their elephant and the project. Although I will say that I think it is incredibly selfless to be choosing to be apart of the Surin project.
And I am forever touched by meeting these people and living alongside of them. And with that I feel that each one of us has had a special connection with the elephants and individual mahouts. The thirteen of us are all unique and different from one another but we can all share in common this connection and experience we just went through.