Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tea Time in the Forest

Its Monday morning. My tummy is full of jam and toast and we are setting off down the hill past the mahout village along the dusty road. We pass leafless trees and burnt fields. We cross the river and troop along, till the mahouts motion: elephants. We are greeted by an over enthusiastic Song Kran, and watch as the other elephants eat bamboo. Data collection starts and we follow them over a stream, up a hill and deeper into the forest, observing their every munch and poop.

Hours later we are waving good bye to Thong Dee as she strips a tree of its bark and we head back to the road. “Patti Saiee, mah teh coh ah? (Can we make tea?)” At that the mahouts nod and scuttle off to collect bamboo, firewood and water. Within 15 minutes we have a roaring fire, freshly made bamboo kettles and a group of beaming volunteers. While Boon Chew and Jor Doh make bamboo cups for tea in the forest, Patti Saiee tends the fire.
 Soon the tea is ready and Patti Saiee is using nature’s oven mittens (fresh green leaves) and pouring us each a cup. So, with the noon sun on our backs, the fire dying, and a warm cup of tea, I sit smiling. Thank you mahouts, thank you Thailand, thank you GVI.