In late spring, 2012, I was getting ready to move to Boulder, CO, for a job. With barely any notice, the position fell through, and I suddenly found myself with a wide-open summer.
What to do?
My first thought was, “Can I take a trip?” Quickly followed by…… “How long can I go?” : )
One thing that had been high on my list for the last 7-8 years, was to visit The Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand. I had heard about this place – a sanctuary for injured, overworked or abused elephants – from several trusted, well-traveled sources over the years, and I very much wanted to go.
Everything about it resonated: Sanctuary. Elephants. Jungle. Refuge. Animal rights. Activism. In the midst of a tourism industry that I knew, on a gut level, wasn’t treating animals well.
When I got close to buying that ticket – I had second thoughts.
I didn’t speak Thai, I had never been to Asia, and I was going alone.
I was nervous.
But, I wanted to see elephants. IN their natural habitat. IN a place where they are treated well and respected.
I didn’t know if I wanted to spend three months in Thailand, but I knew I wanted to go to the Elephant Nature Park.
I bought a one way ticket to Bangkok…..
And fell in love with Thailand. Northern Thailand, specifically. I had so many positive experiences there. I felt it. I was moved. I was touched. My heart opened.
The sanctuary was as incredible as I had hoped. In fact, it was even better. And, I was touched by many places, people and things I experienced there, not just the sanctuary.
When I returned to the U.S., I was sharing stories and photos with friends. One friend asked, “HOW did you find these places?”
I said, “through living there.”
I wouldn’t have found these places otherwise. I wouldn’t have made the connections I made, which added so much to my experiences, had I not spent extended time there – and, had the passion for exploring and finding the most incredible things I could find.
She said, “You ought to lead a trip.”
I felt electricity inside of me………. because I knew I would LOVE to do that.
She said, “Do it, and I’ll come.”
I put the word out loosely, and the response was there.
I designed a trip for people to experience what, I feel, is the best of what I experienced during my three months there.
And I absolutely loved leading it. : )
After the first trip, I knew I wanted to do more. Not only do I love sharing the experiences I treasure with other people, but I enjoy bringing people to places where good work is being done. Through our trips, we directly support people who are restoring the earth. I can’t imagine more meaningful work – or anything more enjoyable.