Have you heard of Jenga?
“You take a block from the bottom and you put it on top… ”
C’mon you know the jingle right? This is the one where you build a tower and then work to make sure that when it falls it wasn’t your block removing skills that caused it?
I watched that game transform a group of strangers into friends over the course of an evening.
The boys and I were at Elephant Hills and as we took the ride up to the camp in Khao Sok there were two other ladies in the van. Anna and Joanne hail from Australia and since we’d just been there, we quickly struck up a conversation about traveling and seeing the world.
I’m very aware of the fact that although we are traveling with kids, there is a strong likelihood that other guests may not be used to having two very talkative boys around all the time. I try to be conscious of the noise they’re making and how many questions they’re asking other guests; never wanting to impose on someone’s experience. But after weeks of being with just their parents the boys were looking to talk to someone new. From the very beginning Anna and Jo obliged. I assumed they were just being polite.
But one night after spending the day bathing and feeding elephants we all gathered, as is the Elephant Hills way, for dinner on the large outdoor terrace. Once the delicious meal was consumed Anna suggested a game of Uno and Jenga. The kids were immediately on board for it. The boys along with 11-year old Juliet from Holland jumped at the chance. The rest of us took the time to enjoy a last cup of tea or check email but I watched nervously for signs that the kids were overwhelming Jo and Anna or that I might need to intervene.
Not a chance.
Within 10 minutes of starting the giggles and raucous laughter that were emanating from that table had even those of us who weren’t involved in stitches.
We felt the stress of every block removal – especially when Cam’s littlest fingers seemed to slide the blocks out without abandon – and every single time the tower came crashing down we jumped and laughed and watched as they set it up to go again.
It was a magical night. Giant crickets flying through the room, a game of chess among the men in the corner, adult conversation and family bonding.We didn’t know these people a mere 12 hours earlier and yet sitting here having shared experiences with elephants and sea canoes, local dancing children and cooking classes, we were a new kind of family.
And at the end of it there was the promise of doing it again tomorrow and the unspoken sadness that it wouldn’t be able to happen every night forever.
There has been no night more magical on our trip so far.
I wish every traveler a few nights at Elephant Hills.
(Big thanks to Anna for taking and sharing these amazing pictures)