Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lemongrass Mud Spa

While all this is happening, a few of notice that the air smells like Ben-gay (no, I do not use it now, just when I was in high school track for treating horrible shin splints) and lemon. I mention this one of the few (broken) English speaking mahouts and he says the Ben-gay smell is an herb that they have been using on one of the elephants who is recovering from a broken leg. I am amazed at this because they are making this muscle, tendon rub in its purest form, something most consumers would never think of.

The lemon smell is actually coming from a mud based concoction that another mahout is mixing with his hands. The mahout asks a bunch of us to help mix it as well while he explains to us what it's for. The ingredients are warm water, mud and fresh cut lemon grass -- all of these herbs are grown at the sanctuary. Once the mud if blended evenly into a smooth loose paste, it is rubbed in the babies and the other eles that did not roll in the mud. The purpose behind it is to protect the skin from the sun which most of the eles do by 'dusting' -- vacuuming dirt into their trunk and spraying it on their backs and sides.

After about 30 minutes of mixing we rub the mud onto two of the elephants. Apparently they love this, because it feels like a warm massage. I see that this is quite true as their eyelids close half way completely relaxed. And if we walk back to get more mud, they follow us, trunk touching us for more.