Growing up I never had pets. Ok, that’s a lie. I had a couple of fishes that I either over-fed or forgot to feed. I forgot the cause of the death. Ok, I forgot to feed them. And an angry little parrot that I never managed to tame.
As so many kids, I always wanted a dog. I preferred and angry parrot to a cat. No cats! But a dog!? OMGSH PLZ. But since I can remember myself, my family always moved from one flat to another. And by the time my mum finally created something I could call my home, it was time for my first year abroad in Belgium. Followed by another 5 other countries I’ve resided in so far.
Yeaaaah, no space and love for animals in this luggage.
So when Andra in Chiang Mai, Thailand suggested going to an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center, I was like- naaaah. I don’t know. It was expensive! We can get five full body massages, get stuffed on five Thai curries (OH YES, we can!) and finish the day by drinking ourselves to a comma for that price! And then repeat..
I was also suspicious. I didn’t wanna be one of those tourists who takes a photo with a drugged tiger or rides an elephant! Like so uncool..
But, luckily for me, Andra is a super smart and tough negotiator. I hate to argue with her. So I had no choice really..
On our way to the elephant sanctuary, we were shown a little film on the history of this place. More specifically- a story of this little, brave Thai woman whose mission is to rescue abused, neglected elephants in Thailand and increasingly Myanmar.
They tapped into my feelings then and there. FINE! I felt really bad for these animals, who were so cruelly exploited in logging and tourism industries as if there were 7 billion of them for bloody each of us. NO! Asian elephants are ENDANGERED!
And then I got to see one.. And caress one. And feed one. And bathe one.
Why on earth would you wanna chain a beauty like that? Just by looking into one’s eyes, it is clear it is a sentient being with a story, a history of its own. A broken heart, but a stoic wisdom that keeps it going yet another day after so much suffering. Intelligent, curious and confused about all these silly people taking selfies as quickly as possible just in case it decides to fool around. I hope they do sometimes..
So that was it for me. It was love at first sight.
The rest of the trip I had to work hard, in order to not shout like an angry, tired Russian babushka at bloody tourists who rode them.
It broke my heart. Every. Single. Time.
I love elephants. And I think that day I also realized that I had this hidden love for animals in general. I am now suspicious about people who don’t..
And people who like cats. Cats don’t count.