San Jep and Mario’s mud bath
By Brittany, USA
It was my week one, the first time I had ever seen an elephant and the big wrinkly fellas didn’t disappoint. We trekked up a few hills and wove down a couple paths and BAM there they were: elephants. Mario and San Jep were excited to see us, well in actuality they were excited to see the bananas we brought. We went two at a time feeding the eager momma and baby the bananas and we were overjoyed by our first elephant experience. Banana stores depleted, we sat down to observe the pair but Mario was having none of it. He continually attempted to come over and inspect us, probably assuming that we were holding out on him because we still smelled like the bananas. Eventually Old Chief, their mahout, got Mario to back off and mother and child made their way to a muddy little clearing. What we then observed was a volunteers dream!
San Jep decided that she fancied a mud bath and she plowed head first into the muck and mire. A full blown elephant water party ensued when Mario decided to join in. Our group of volunteers frantically snapped photos and whipped out the video cameras while Old Chief sat, nonplussed, smoking a banana leaf cigar. As volunteers, we are supposed to hang back and observe the elephants from a distance but we usually move away from them rather reluctantly. This hike was an exception. When San Jep and Mario finished with their mud bath they decided to come say hello and the volunteers booked it out of the way. Nobody wanted to get drenched in mud by a cheeky baby elephant. We finished our perfect day with a lovely hike through the forest and a good natured bit of bragging back at base hut. Now we all have fantastic photos and memories that will last a life time.