On this rainy day, my thoughts take me back to Thailand and a trek in the jungle. My time with Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary was in the middle of two months in Southeast Asia.

Each day we would trek over two hours to visit a beautiful elephant family. The saying throughout the sanctuary was “the further the trek, the happier the elephants.”

We encountered much more than brush and vines along the way, especially after a hard rain, when a certain squirmy annoyance would find themselves in to our shoes, socks and pants. LEECHES!

There are two kinds of leeches I learned about on this day.  The first are small and were the ones we had to look out for.  The second are larger and were after the elephants.

I remember standing with the group, watching as the elephants munched on leaves and swatted the flies away, when a scream came from behind.

“A leech is in my sock!” One of our guides quickly went over, helped remove it, and smashed the pest on the ground.

The awareness to stay on the lookout was in the front of our thoughts. I knew I was a definite target, with ripped pants and a wrapped hand.  Sure enough, blood spots were forming on my arms.

We returned to the village to clean up and prepare ourselves for the rest of the day’s activities. My homestay “Grandma” stared at me while I removed my boots and dragged my weary body up the steps to my room.

When we met up at base, our head guide looked at me with a smile: “Tiffany, everyone in the village is worried about you. They saw you bloody, limping and your clothes ripped up. Your homestay was asking if you were ok.”

I laughed and sat back onto the cushion with my instant coffee and a muffin. Above me was the lush, majestic green of the countryside. Smoke from dinner was only steps away.

I was more than ok.