What would Sri Lanka be like? It is an island only 3 hours by flight south of India. Would the food be the same, clothing, food, scenery? I was curious and couldn’t wait to experience a new country and dive into this project.
I arrived in Colombo after a delayed flight from Delhi at 2:30am! The project site was 2 hours from the airport and I was so exhausted I could barely think! I found some internet and booked a hotel close to the airport and thankfully the owners were so sweet and came to pick me up at 3:30am! The first thing to greet me once I got to my room was a few cockroaches that decided to catch me off guard while I was in the bathroom…didn’t sleep much. The humidity was fierce and I felt I could cut a hole through it! The next morning the organization picked me up and to the jungle we went! The landscape was beautiful, winding through mountains, lush greenery, birds singing, the sweet smell of pineapple and jasmine flowers lingered through the air.
Tamsin, the volunteer coorindator greeted myself and another volunteer who had just arrived from England. She gave us a tour of the grounds, basic information about the foundation and meeting all 8 elephants. In addition, we learned how to get to town to pick up the basic necessities and snacks which was about 20 minutes away. She has been here for 3 years and is filled with so much information. She also told me that I would be assigned an elephant that I would be responsible for during my time here (volunteering here isn’t just elephants baths and rides its very labor intensive) and a typical day starts waking up at 6:30 to have breakfast at 7am and ending after 5pm.
The volunteers share a cabin that has 4 rooms with several bunk beds and 2 bathrooms. During my time, there were about 10 volunteers which changed week by week like a river, some leaving and other arriving. The minimum duration to volunteer at MEF is 2 weeks with the majority doing 3 weeks to 3 months. There was no AC or hot water and most of the time we showered outside and could practically air dry it was so dang hot. The bugs, not a big fan coming from the girl who screams at the sight of a spider and will gladly pay the nearest person in sight to take care of it. So ya, there were mosquitoes which practically ate me alive, scorpions, snakes, huge spiders, cockroaches and so much more.
Looking forward to getting settled in the jungle, meeting the volunteers and the elephants tomorrow! Let the work begin!