Learning with Elephants - My Family Travels
Meeting Lucky for the first time
Refreshing Lucky
Walking around the sanctuary

I have always heard that trips enlighten, and yes, that is true. After a trip to Thailand, I realized that trips teach many different lessons, especially on how you perceive the world, and they remind you to be grateful. But these lessons did not come from people, instead, they came through a different kind of teachers: elephants.

My parents and I like to travel because that way we share memories together. In 2012, we visited Asia; it was my first time going there and my first long haul flight, so I was super excited. After some days in Asia, we headed to Thailand. When we landed in Bangkok, I immediately felt the high humidity, but I perceived that everyone was amiable, so I knew that we were going to have a great time. The next day we headed to a town called Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, specifically to an elephant sanctuary called “Patara Elephant Farm” (www.pataraelephantfarm.com). Everything was perfect, the weather was so nice and everything around us was green and lush.

We had the opportunity to spend an entire day with elephants and be the ‘owner for a day’ while learning to take care of them, bathing them, feeding them, bareback riding them, and the coolest thing was swimming with them. Because I was the youngest one in the tour, I got the smallest one. Its name was Lucky, it was 5 years old at the time, and it was the sweetest elephant ever.  But even though my elephant was small, it was difficult to climb him up. Once up, it was an incredible experience to feel its rough skin and its tiny hairs on the back of its head while we were going to a nearby waterfall to swim and have a picnic. One of the highlights of this day was when I bathed Lucky in the river. He was very playful so he laid down and I could see in its eyes that he was enjoying how I scrubbed his face and trunk.  As a thank you, he splashed me and sprayed water with its trunk all over me!

Throughout the day, the guides told us fun facts about these gentle giants. One of them was that these animals live in family all their lifetime; that thought reminded me about the importance of family and the vital role it has in a person’s life. They also told us that if you are good with an elephant they will remember you forever and recognize you whenever you come back.

Being surrounded by so much vegetation and by generous and majestic elephants, I realized that taking care of the Earth is a commitment everyone should make because we only have one planet to live in and it is important that we preserve it for future generations to enjoy it too.

Sadly, the end of the day came and as a prize for letting me take care of Lucky I gave him a mangosteen while saying “didi, didi” which meant: “Good boy!.” We hugged and I said goodbye hoping to come back one day to someday see Lucky again.

Spending a day taking care of an elephant is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I would recommend to anyone because these beautiful animals teach you the importance of family and cohabitation, to be thankful for the good people in your life and to enjoy and care for the environment; especially to preserve and treasure such a magnificent species. It was one of the greatest days of my life!!

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