Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dinner with the Mahouts

Tonight was a very special occasion for the project because volunteers enjoyed an amazing and fun dinner party with the mahouts, elephant owners, and their families. Volunteers split up for dinner and each ate at their respective mahout’s home. We hope to continue this event fortnightly and help build upon GVIs strong relationships with the mahouts and the community of Huay Pakoot.
At Patti Saiee’s house (Thong Dee’s mahout and owner) two of us enjoyed a dinner of Musatoe (crushed chillies and eggplant) and pumpkin leaf soup, with Patti Saiee and two of his older sisters. It was amazing to see their family relationship and that in our small village brothers and sisters still live together into their 60s. We also tried to teach his family a few animal names in English, which caused a lot of laughter!
Over at Boon Jan’s owner’s house three of us were very warmly welcomed by Jordo (Boon Jan’s mahout) and his family. Dinner was fantastic and very different to anything previously eaten. As well as the yummy pumpkin leaf soup, we had some sort of pumpkin and onion dish and a delicious dish of zucchini, egg, coriander and basil with other leafy ingredients that don’t translate! It was a great experience to have the whole family sit down to eat with us and have them try to explain all of our dinner ingredients, laughing at all our pronunciations. Jordo was the perfect host and while we hung out watching the general evening activities such as fish de-scaling and preparation and the routine beetlenut chewing, he even found time pose for pictures and to teach us a whole new string of handy Karen words.

After being waved in by the 80 year old basket weaver we settled down in Boon Chew’s house (Mana’s Mahout) for an excellent meal. As we sat with our bowls of rice, Boon Chew got himself one and joined us with a big smile on his face. We quickly dug right into some delicious food which consisted of spicy Musatoe, Lo co boo (not sure what it was but it was good!), Sobadaco (a cabbage dish), and a soup that tasted strongly of lemon grass. After we were all stuffed we sat around and met two of Boon Chew’s sisters and his nephew. It was amazing to hang out with them in a family atmosphere and watch Boon Chew playing with his baby nephew. Overall it was a great experience eating with the Mahouts and we hope to continue this tradition.