Saturday, January 30, 2010

Elephant Camp and Sam

As promised, we stopped by Sam’s house in the morning before leaving Erawan Resort. However, Sam was still asleep; not wanting to wake up the young “lover” and have another confrontation, we bid the family final good-bye and drove away. 

Our next destination was Sai Yok ElephantCcamp only an hour away. However, poorly navigating in curvy and steep roads we went in completely different direction and lost two hours. The mood in the car was somber. No one talked. Everyone was thinking of Sam. Eventually we found the camp and for a little while forgot about Sam. 

The elephants were beautiful. Large gray animals looked proud and unconquerable. 

We were thoroughly mistaken and soon found out the harsh reality. 

When we paid the guide for the ride, he took our elephant on the bitten path. Riding through narrow paths into the water and bending smooth corners, he followed the guide’s orders. At one point, the guide got off the elephant to take our pictures and when he got back on, the elephant started to blow air through his trunk, making rumbling sounds and refused to go. Yelling at the old mammoth, the guide grabbed a short wooden stick with a sharp metal hook and hit the animal with all his might on the head. We screamed. Feeling worse than the dirt under a rock for paying and enjoying the ride based on animal cruelty, we sent lots of good energies to the elephant, gently caressing his rough skin and whispering words of regret and encouragement. The animal calmed down. The rest of the ride was a pure torment. All we wanted was to get off the succumbed elephant and ask him for forgiveness. Luckily the ride was over shortly. As soon as we got off, we looked at our elephant. One of his eyes was almost white; he was old and half-blind. Barely holding back tears, we thanked him for being patient with us and expressed our sorrow for abusing him. He was moved away a moment later. 

We stayed just a bit longer, caressing babies and feeding them bananas. But none of it was making us feel any better and so we left. Trying to get to our next destination we got lost again. The mood was unanimously morbid. The animal cruelty we witnessed hang vividly in our minds. The thoughts of Sam came back. We imagined him waking up in the morning and when finding out that he missed us, getting on his motorcycle and being so upset, riding so fast and getting into an accident. Our imagination grew dim pictures. I stopped the car and pulled over. What are we going to do? This whole day is horrible. Nothing at all is going right. Should we go back to Erawan? The vote was 2 against 1. One of the girls thought it was unfair to go back and give Sam a chance for hope, the other two saw everything that went wrong that day as signs of unfinished business at Erawan. We turned around. 

When we drove into Sam’s driveway, his family was thoroughly surprised. We demanded to see Sam. Sam came out looking sleepy, confused but calm. We got him into the car and drove to the lake where we first met. Not knowing how to communicate to him that we were worried about him, we sat silently and observed him. Sam didn’t show any signs of broken heart or sadness. In the end, that’s all we wanted to know. That the kid was ok. 

We spent the whole evening with Sam, sitting quietly by the lake and talking amongst ourselves. Later, his 24 year old brother, Lot, and 10 year old sister joined us. Lot brought beer and soon the alcohol loosened the tension. We were laughing, playing around, arm-wrestling and drawing pictures on a napkin to communicate. When the time became too late, the family started to worry and came over to the lake to check out what was going on. At that point, I was putting the young sister and Lot into the back of our car (Lot was too drunk to drive his scooter). Sam took one of us on the back of Lot’s scooter and we all drove home. When we got into the driveway, we were met by a large angry-looking man (we called him Sumo Wrestler). Soon we were surrounded by the whole family. Some looked confused, others angry and Sen (60 year old relative who accompanied us at the waterfall the day before) smiled and offered us a beer. Sam and Lot asked us to stay but the “Sumo Wrestler” waved at us and said good-bye. We knew we overstayed our welcome, quickly got in the car and drove away. 

It was a rough day. We went through a wide range of emotions. Sadness, anger, upset, worry, happiness, laughter, fear. When we finally settled in a hotel, showered and got into bed, the phone rang.

"I miss you", - said Sam in a very sad voice...

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