This weekend my husband and I hiked fifteen miles through a place called Dolly Sods Wilderness Area in West Virginia.
The trek has many hills and the beginning of our hike was two miles uphill due to the main road being closed.
I love hiking, but must admit, was not prepared for this. My husband was ahead, leading the way, while behind I muttered curses to the hill.
During one of our stops, I shared my frustration and how it was not easy.
“It is not going to be easy in the jungle” he said
“The elephants are not going to wait for you”
He’s right, this training is to prepare me for the unknown, because unlike our hikes together or with friends, I will have to rely on myself.
On my birthday last year as I was reading greetings and wishes, I read of someone else also celebrating her birthday.
Her name is Mo Mo and she lives at the Yangon Zoo in Myanmar. She was turning 62 and had been a resident of the zoo for fifty-five years.
I saw pictures of her dancing and wearing a ridiculous outfit and I got angry.
I knew I had to do something and made a birthday wish to Mo Mo that by our next birthday she would be free.
With the support and love of fellow elephant advocates we began a petition and eventually a fundraising campaign with the hopes of making the wish of her retirement come true.
The fight for Mo Mo’s retirement from a life of entertaining has not been easy. There are many who wish for her to remain a member of the zoo life, as well as those who believe the time has come for her to rest.
Discouragement and frustration were clouding my heart and I stepped away from this battle, until today. I have decided to visit Mo Mo as part of my trip, and will be doing so around our birthdays.
The post that introduced me to Mo Mo.
Female elephant Mo Mo eats a cake made of fruits, vegetables and sugar canes during a ceremony to mark her 62nd birthday at the Yangon Zoological Gardens Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015 in Yangon, Myanmar. The pachyderm originally from Myanmars eastern Kayah state was brought to the zoo in 1961 when she was seven-year-old. Mo Mo is one of the most popular animals at the more than 100-year-old zoo and she entertains children by her weekly performances. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
The images here are from the first place we went to two years ago in Chiang Mai. I feel the need to share them because this was such a solemn and hard moment to witness.
I remember seeing the purple on different areas of their bodies, especially the ears and not knowing why. These are from wounds the mahouts have inflicted on them so they listen to them.
Elephants are poked with nails in the ears, in which the mahout covers from people. The bullhook is also used in order for the elephants to be trained and listen to commands.
The sanctuary where these pictures were taken did use hooks, but they said “for emergency only.”
When you look into their eyes, what do you see?
The post at the bottom is of a street elephant, which I did not see during my time in Bangkok or Chiang Mai, but this DOES happen!
What do you say to those who allow this to happen?
Mahouts used to be seen as respectful men who loved their elephants and they were family.
Would you do this to your loved ones?
So I have started a GoFundMe page to raise money for my trip. At first I was hesitant, what would the reactions and opinions be? Me, asking for money to go to Thailand and Cambodia, sounded really strange.
A dear friend though convinced me with encouraging words.
“Well you can’t prevent people criticizing you if they want to, but I don’t think this is selfish. People want to support someone who is raising awareness.”
I hope that this blog will provide the windows to see into the world of these majestic creatures and of the people who have loved and cared for them for many generations.
Here is the GoFundMe page, any positive comments would be greatly appreciated as well as suggestions for improvement.
Baby elephant and Auntie
Our niece is staying with us for a few days, and her innocence and bright spirit are exactly what I needed.
The daily news of the abuse and despair that dear elephants endure around the world I read and hear on a daily basis sometimes wears me down.
At times I wonder what I am doing, and if my actions will make a difference.
This afternoon as Hazel and I were watching videos of elephants she was so excited about the squeaks they were making. She asked me many questions about what they were doing.
While I was explaining to her about the squeaks the elephants were also flapping their ears.
“They are making wind” she told me, wearing the biggest smile and looking up at me with big eyes full of curiosity and wonder.
Yes they are my dear, yes they are.
Yesterday my husband and I hiked on the Gorge Trail at McConnells Mill. This was our first time there and he had picked this particular trail for various reasons.
This trail was rated as moderate to difficult and is along the edge of a hill. There are no loops, and the entire trail is thirteen miles.
As we walked I noticed how similar this trek was compared to a stop we had made in Thailand.
We were motorbiking around and came to this beautiful place, I unfortunately was not wearing the adequate footwear to venture as much as I wanted.
Because I am training for my trek , this was a great place to go. Very rocky and steep.
A park we stopped at in Chiang Mai
This morning, I received confirmation that I will be doing interview posts about my trip for the travel website, Twirl the Globe.
There will be total of three interviews. The first will be before I leave to explain my project. A second one will be conducted while I am there to share an update on my findings. Then a final one with a overall observation of the whole trip.
I am so excited for this amazing opportunity, and another outlet to share what my work and expand my hope and intentions for the future.