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Hiya.  I have a story to tell...
My name is Lesley Rogers, I'm the PA to Head of Legal for Virgin Mobile in Trowbridge. WOW I have something amazing to share - Virgin have given me the funding to live a life long dream to wash an elephant and I hope you enjoy the journey too.

My journey started on the 21st July 2009 when I boarded the plane at Heathrow to fly 11 hours to the island of Sri Lanka. I had never been Far East before and had no idea what was waiting for me! I had to tell myself, I am now on the adventure of a life time, so get a grip and here we go.

I arrived at lunch time and was greeted by one of the people who would be looking after me for the next 16 days. The journey to the Ja-Ela House was scary they donít seem to have any rules for the road it was like wacky races. Motorbikes every where, tuk-tukís all over the place, it was quite chaotic.

Day 1 - After a very restless night listening to all the strange noises and coping with the heat, I awoke about 5.30. It was really quiet except for the noise of crickets, birds and the wildlife. Later that day I was taken to Colombo to have a look at the capital of Sri Lanka. It was all so different and quite crazy really. The shops seemed so disorganised, but interesting. Naranjella (the house mother) asked if I would like to see the main Buddhist temple - of course I would - so off we went. When we arrived I asked if I could take some photoís and when I was in the main part of the temple a monk approached me and he asked me to follow him. I followed him and outside was the most beautiful elephant. I was overcome with emotion, he was amazing, my first sight of a real elephant and it was awesome.

Day 2 - Had a quiet day and just rested and lazed around the house, went to the local store did a bit of nibble shopping. Watched the chipmunks playing on the roof of the house (these are the local squirrels!). Started my diary because I did not want to miss a minute.

Day 3/4 - We drove the Kegal House where I would be staying for the rest of my time in Sri Lanka. It is nearer to the Elephant Sanctuary in Pinawala. I was so excited at the prospect of being so close to the elephants. I was anxious as well because I was not sure what this would entail. We started by cleaning the elephants sleeping quarters, lots of elephant pooh (Allo Betty as it is called in Sri Lanka). We would clear all the leaves and tree trunks into a tractor trailer and off they would go. It would take about 2 hours of intensive labour and in the heat it was hard work, but most rewarding. All the other Travellers volunteers that joined in the experience were great because we were all like minded people who adored elephants. It was wonderful.

Day 5 - I went down to the river and washed an elephant called Raja. What a treat that was and I was amazed at how hairy elephants actually are! I was handed a coconut shell and told to rub. It was emotional for me. I was crying and talking to this elephant like a burbling idiot and can confess so were most of the others, I was in heaven.

One of my favourites was Raja. How amazing he is at 63 years old. Raja is blind. He had been shot by poachers in his head causing the blindness. They can not remove the bullets as they are too close to his brain. He is cared for by the sanctuary and has been with them for a long time. He is very happy there and I think enjoys the attention he gets. Quality of life is paramount.

This was what I have dreamed off since I was 8 years old, to have a childhood dream come true is amazing, I can not tell it in words, JUST AMAZING.

Day 6, 7, 8, 9 10, 11 - Working with the elephants in the sanctuary made every day an adventure. There was always something going on. We would clean out their night sheds for their arrival after their afternoon bathe. To watch 50 something elephants race back to their clean bedrooms was amazing.

I have walked with the elephants, fed babies, cleaned up after them, spent an afternoon talking with the vet about elephants, watched them play and scratch, watched a baby get to grips with her trunk (it was hard work but when she finally picked up the twig she gave the biggest squeal of delight and went to show her mum!) and to put the icing on the cake I rode an elephant. I feel as though Iíve been to heaven and back.

I have had the most amazing time and loads more to tell and if you want to find out more please ring me I would be more than happy to share it with you. I would need the whole of Roger to write about my 16 days in Sri Lanka (hehe).

I am the luckiest lady in the world to have been given the opportunity of living a lifeís dream. It was more than I could have imagined and has changed my life completely. I will be going back to Sri Lanka next year, I have left my heart over there and need to go back to pick it up.

THANK YOU SOoooooooo VERY MUCH VIRGIN for making it happen and thank you to TRAVELLERS WORLDWIDE for making it such a smooth experience with no travel/accommodation or visa problems whatsoever. IT WAS AMAZING AND I RECOMMEND THIS EXPERIENCE TO ANYONE WHO WANTS AN ADVENTURE.

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