I finally managed to get myself a large holdall bag from Argos. Hoorah! I rushed home, painstakingly put elastic bands around each pair of shoes to squash them down a bit (thank you Tim!), and then proceeded to pack and re-pack no less than five times, using a variety of methods. Amidst uttering a few unrepeatable words, some frustrated tears and a lot of sweat, I eventually had to concede that the bag is just a little bit too small. Total pain in the backside as I now have to waste precious time taking it back to the store to exchange it. I really wanted to have all my donations packed up by now as - apart from the charity shop smell taking over - I still haven't done a trial pack of my own personal belongings and, considering the drama that will bring (i.e. forcing myself to pack my 'no one cares what you look like' clothes and ignoring all my fancy-pants shoes), it is likely to be time consuming and traumatic - cue large gin & tonic. Am I feeling the pressure now? Yes, slightly. I now only have three full days to complete all of my "to do" lists. Therefore, at this point, please don't call me unless you are phoning to say you are on your round to help (e.g. pour the gin & tonic ...).
On a less stressful note, I have now booked my January flight to Nepal, returning the first week of February. Yay! So on the 4th January, I will set off from Heathrow for a 12 hour journey (via Delhi) to Kathmandu. After spending one night with a host family, I then travel 6 hours by bus to Chitwan, and then roughly 2 hours by motorcycle to the actual project. This sounds quite daunting, but I'm up for it! After I'm settled with my Chitwan host family, my days will (loosely) go like this:
- 6:00am Up and showered
- 7:00am Feed and water the elephants
- 7:30am Clean up their poop. Nice.
- 8:00am Volunteers get breakfast
- 9:00am Take the elephants to the river for their bath (sweeeet!)
- 11:00am Elephants go into the jungle for the day with tourists
Volunteers can go to village and work with local community if not 'driving' jungle tour.
- 16:00pm Take elephants to river for evening bath
- 17:00pm Feed and water the elephants
- 18:00pm Clean up their poop (again) and put them to bed
- 19:00pm Volunteers eat dinner and have free time
I have also been told that there will be the opportunity to work with women in the local community to see for myself how they provide themselves with a living by making paper out of elephant dung and basket weaving. I hope that I have time to make my own basket. That would be very cool. There is also an orphanage in the village where I hope to spend some of my time as well.
I was told by Rupa that it will be cold because it is January and that I should bring "heavy wool clothes". I tentatively asked her how cold it would actually be (suddenly remembering photos of snow peaked mountains in Nepal), and she told me "between 22 and 25 degrees". I had to giggle and explain that, coming from England, that is nowhere near what we would consider cold. She giggled back and told me that in that case, I should probably bring "one heavy wool cloth top" just for the mornings before the sun comes out. Which reminded me: I read a funny account the other day of a Nepalese man who had come to England and, one sunny day in February, he opened his front door dressed in shorts and a t-shirt whereupon he practically froze on the spot. Seeing the postman laughing at him, he asked why it was not warm. In his opinion, the sun was out, so it should be warm right? After a confusing conversation with the postman, the man - still scratching his head - concluded that "in England, the sun must only used as a torch in the winter". Brilliant.
Right, that's enough chat for one day - back to fretting and packing ...