Friday, October 22, 2010

Tangalle, Sri Lanka: The weekend is over

It has been nice to have a relaxing weekend. There were blisters that needed to be healed and muscles that needed a break. Yesterday we spent in Galle wandering around and doing some shopping and today our group split up. Half of us went to two Buddhist temples and the group I was with went to the Yala National Park which is the island’s most popular elephant reserve. There are about 500 elephants along with numerous birds (peacocks, cranes, etc) and other wildlife. The elephants did not disappoint. There were a few that were about 6 months old and it was interesting to watch the heard protect the small animals when we drove by them. They loved the muddy water holes to spray mud all over them to cool off. It was an incredible experience to see these large beasts in their native habitat.

While taking two days off to explore and see more of Sri Lanka was amazing, I know that what we came here to do is not far from everyone’s minds. We are focused on the projects that we started and want to leave Sri Lanka knowing we made a difference. After driving around for the last two days, you see the stark poverty that everyone is in. It is not just in Tangalle where we are staying and working. All the towns have similar feelings, packed small store fronts, garbage in the gutters, stray dogs and small palm thatched huts selling fruit. We saw very few “nice” areas which goes to show how much help this country needs. Very few are well off, but that doesn’t stop people from smiling at us and welcoming us in. We do get stares everywhere we go. Foreign visitors are not an everyday occurrence. But, everyone loves to wave at us and say hello!

I can’t help but wonder about the people we have worked with in the last week. What did the weekend provide for the workers at the Trade Facility? How did the family at the home we are building spend the last 2 days? It will feel good to get back to the sites and continue with our work. We only have a short time left on our trip and every day will need to count in order to get as much done as possible.

On a lighter note, our Softchoice Cares group has become incredibly close. Some of the running jokes are:

· Being scared every time we see a wood apple which omits a putrid smell and sometimes winds up in fruit smoothies

· We have named many of the local stray dogs at the our hotel after “The Godfather” movie. There is often dissension in the ranks and fights occur.

· There are numerous peacocks around that like to make a meowing noises bright and early in the morning. Whenever we hear that we comment , “There’s Kevin!” like the bird in the movie “Up”.

· We have been trying to learn to bobble our heads from side to side instead of shaking yes or no as the Sri Lankans do. This mean either ok or all is good and has taken some getting used to.

Things are going very well here and I hope for the same back home. Miss you!

DWC Participant
Sri Lanka 2010

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