A morning in the jungle / by Marek Charytonowicz

The Elephant Valley is owned by the local farmers and the project pays for using the jungle with rice.

Day goes differently in here. I wake up at six to quickly splash some water into my face and brush teeth. Then there’s coffee which wakes you up immediately followed by breakfast - always fruit and either pancake or eggs. And then depending on a day we go down to the valley - called Heaven - to watch the elephants play in the river and in the forest. Or we go to one of the project’s banana plantations to prepare it for new trees or plant them. It’s hard manual work, given the temperature and humidity - it’s impressive how the tribesmen do this never ending battle with the jungle every day with a smile on their faces.

The afternoon is again either spent at Elephant’s Washing Station (where using a hose and a brush you literally wash the red mud out of patiently standing elephant) or helping with other tasks needed by the project - construction of the huts in the dry season, plantation in the wet one.

Lunch at 2, dinner at 6 (when it’s already pitch black) and although it’s hard to believe - you’re longing for bed by 7.30 - 8 o’clock.

Nights are a bit tricky. It looks like some mice are going through my stuff every night. The noises of little steps are very loud on plastic bags or the rubber surface of my backpack and last night there was some squeaking as well. It sounded right next to my bed and made me stay awake most of the night. Head torch didn’t help much and the imagination kept coming up with scarier and scarier explanations, from spiders above my bed finally moving down, through snakes to large geckos. Brrrrrrr….

Mondulkiri Coffee - absolutely the best rocket fuel I've ever had!

Mondulkiri Coffee - absolutely the best rocket fuel I've ever had!

They serve here one of the best coffees I’ve ever tried, a local Moldurkiri crop, very strong but with great deep flavor. In the morning with a bit of sugar and condensed milk, it works like a rocket fuel.

It’s only three days and the experience is overwhelming. I’m getting used to humidity and wet boots and being soaked by continuous torrential rain. My OCD is temporarily on hold as its pointless to try to dry anything or keep any order. One just has to follow the flow of the jungle. I’m also very slowly getting used to bugs all around. Thats a tough one.

On the other hand the view is spectacular, dense foliage all around, steaming whenever sun comes out, and coming back to life with cicadas that instead of - familiar from Mediterranean countries - clicking noise, sound like proper sirens and it’s hard to believe that noise is made by an insect.

View over the Elephant Valley...

View over the Elephant Valley...