Wed 13/01/10 23:27
Gardens, temples, and dancing…
Kandy is a good-sized city and has a little bit of the tourist feel to it. Which is not a bad thing at all especially since we really haven’t been living in luxury the last week, it’s nice to have a few comforts to fall back on. This is the last day and night for me and another person in the group. I decided to come back a little bit early because of the start of school being so close. So anyway, we leave tomorrow morning about 730 for the Colombo airport for our flight that leaves at1.
First thing that we did was to go to the botanical gardens. I’m kind of mixed about these types of things but fortunately this one was pretty good. Usually, I get bored quickly when I’m at gardens so when I saw the huge bats and the “herd” of monkeys it made the whole time there more interesting.
After the gardens we did a little bit of shopping and had lunch and then headed out to see some temples. Like the gardens I kind of feel the same about temples, if there isn’t anything really unusual there I get bored quickly. They were interesting, and the views of the surrounding landscapes as well as the drive through the villages was well worth the trips though.
Finally we joined up with the other part of our group. The other part left to stay with a local a couple days earlier and then took a train to Kandy. We met with them at a cultural dance “show.” Then went and had dinner. The next morning I headed out to Colombo for the flight back to Dubai.
Mon 11/01/10 22:28
The next morning would be the last morning in Wellawaya. We still needed to get some stuff for the orphanage, but we had decided to head to Kandy for the remainder of our time in Sri Lanka. Originally we were to help two orphanages, but it turned out that one of them was closed during the holiday season. I still don’t understand that, but that’s what we were told. I always thought that an orphanage is where children live, and you can’t really “close” your house…
So we went and made one more trip to the orphanage to drop off some slippers and school supplies before heading out. The drive was about 8 hours through roads that wound their way through the hills and mountains of inner Sri Lanka. The scenery was beautiful to say the least. There were parts where off in the distance you could see waterfalls, and in one part we went through a high concentration of tea plantations. There is something that looks kind of cool, and in some ways kind of sad, to see hills covered with bushes that are all the same. We stopped a few times, usually to take photos, but we did stop for lunch at a roadside diner and saw some monkeys making their way across some power lines. What keeps coming to me when I think about Sri Lanka is how green it is there. There is bright green, dark green, and every shade in between. We got into Kandy about 8… I think and decided to stay at this really cool old hotel. I don’t really know the history of it, but it seems to be built in the late 19th or early 20th century. Just walking down the hall you could feel like in its day it was something really special. The image that keeps coming to me is the Titanic. No, not that it was going to sink, but it had lots of natural wood, huge open areas, extremely long hallways, and one of those elevators that you have to close the door yourself. Great place!
Mon 11/01/10 01:59
The next day we went back to the orphanage and distributed the clothing and other stuff that we bought the day before. This day was fun because we were there for a while. Most of us played around with the kids, like soccer or cricket… I even got involved and played a little keep-away football. In fact I ended up falling and hurting my wrist later on. It was kind of funny too because I didn’t know if I should tell anyone or just keep it to myself at first. After about 30 minutes my wrist was swelling up so much that in the back of my mind I was thinking that maybe I broke or chipped the bone so I mentioned something to Sareh. It was embarrassing though, I don’t like to draw attention to myself and being visible hurt (swelling) was exactly that, attention.
Oh yeah, earlier in the day I went for a walk along the road. I was getting a little bit angry and frustrated with the group and had to find some way to get away. When I say “a little bit” what I actually mean is I was seriously angry. The only thing I could think of was to stay away from everyone and go for a walk. Of course this made the group mad at me too, so I kind of ended up starting drama. I didn’t want to do it, but I couldn’t stop myself and I had seen it, the anger, forming for a couple of days. I don’t know if they are still angry with me or not, but my guess is that they are.
Along my walk I saw a monitor lizard… a huge lizard. I heard it before I saw it too, I hear this crunching of leaves and twigs and look over and there is this huge lizard disappearing into the bushes. Very impressive. One of the things that I kind of got a kick out of was the reaction of the locals to my presence. It seemed that they don’t get too many people like me around there by the way they stared. Most of the people said something or smiled at me, but almost all of them seemed to be surprised.:)
Sun 10/01/10 21:25
Our initial plan completed we now needed to go get the stuff that we couldn’t bring with us. There were things that we needed to know the sizes, or maybe we didn’t have space in our bags, whatever the reason we were going to buy the items here. So we broke up into two groups. One of the groups would go into town and buy sporting goods and recreational stuff, and the other group would head into a bigger town, I think it was called Kumbalwela… but I could be wrong, for mostly clothing. I went with the group that was going to Kumbalwela.
Generally speaking it was a fun trip. We took a bus there and although it was something like 50 kilometers, it took us about two hours. The ride was through the mountains, along roads that were bordered on one side by a mountain and the other side by a cliff with no guardrails. There were places that technically there wasn’t any road, and other places where a rockslide blocked part of it. So needless to say it took us awhile to go where we needed to go. (I should mention this trip, and maybe a little bit before was where I started to feel like I didn’t belong with the group. This feeling would eventually end up causing problems later on.) Along the way we saw monkeys and a huge waterfall.
Sat 09/01/10 22:22
Our first visit to the orphanage
It took us a while to finally get the room situation worked out. Last night we had decided to split up between two hotels, but this morning we found a nice little hotel just out of town that could accommodate all of us. So with a little help from a van driver we moved all our stuff to the Little Rose Hotel.
After that we headed into the village to get a bite to eat. You have to imagine this village, remember that Sri Lanka is a poor country, and the village we were staying at is poor by Sri Lankan standards. To be honest though, it is what I like. I’m not sure why, but for some reason it seems like people are “real” in places that aren’t wealthy.
After we ate we headed to the orphanage to distribute the goods that we brought with us, and to meet the children. This is the first time that I’ve ever done anything like this before and I was feeling a little nervous. It wasn’t long after we got there that I was really enjoying myself. The children were fantastic. There were only boys, and not all of them were orphans, but they were all really fun to be around. They loved to shake hands, and really loved cameras. Some of the kids would stand in front of me and pretend to take a picture, so I’d take a picture but they kept doing it. They were only satisfied with taking one for themselves. I wish I would have brought my old camera with me to leave for them.
Sat 09/01/10 03:24
Where the orphanage was
After a couple of days in Colombo the rest of the group from Dubai arrived and we headed to Wellawaya. This is the village that has the orphanage in it and it is where we expect to be staying for the majority of the time we’re here. What can I say about a trip through Sri Lanka? I mean, first I feel incredibly fortunate to even be here, let alone have the fun of taking a bus to the mountain village that we are going to be working in. It’s on the long trips that I actually feel like I’m seeing some important parts of a country.
We stopped a couple of times for photos and for lunch. One time we stopped at a small mining operation where about 3 guys were working away. While taking pics of the mine I noticed this poor dog. I felt so sorry for it.
We got into Wellawaya after dark and tried to get to our room. It’s funny how difficult some things can be when there is a language barrier. We thought that we had reservations at two hotels, but it turns out we didn’t. Then we were looking for one hotel that was listed in Lonely Planet called Holiday Inn (no, not a real holiday inn), and the owner of the hotel we were at kept saying that his hotel was called that, but it’s been renamed. This worked for a little while until we actually found the Holiday Inn about a kilometer away. Not that the Holiday Inn was really any better. Regardless, we managed to find places to stay before heading to the orphanage in the morning.