Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 5 - Excursions and Adventures

Today is a National Holiday here - Poyia Day - celebration of the full moon! Our group is taking the day off and going on a visiting tour and Safari Trek! We are all excited! (So you know, this is the 2nd attempt at this blog - the initial one, which was much better!!, became lost in the system!! TIS, they say, which translated means - "This is Sri Lanka!!")

If you've been following these blogs, you will know it's been very hot and humid here, after much rainfall recently. And this group, being such a hard working group, goes VERY HARD right through it all! We have certainly been enjoying getting to know one another - all 22 of us!

The day off began with a "breakfast story" from our leader - Tim Kasten: He told us how, in his attempt to defend his team from perils of danger, within the range of a dangerous shark, he ended up with a horrific gash because of it! (He's got the wound to prove it and we heard there was copious amounts of blood! Although none of us completely sure the story is actually authentic!)

After a wonderful breakfast, we drove to the village and special school called Ketakallawatta (just how it sounds), where 5 years ago DWC built & completed 25 homes, most of which were destined for people who were some of the many Sri Lankan's directly affected by the Tsunami damage here. We saw where they literally carved spaces out of the heavy jungle undergrowth to build the roadways and homes. An amazing project! We visited some homes, as well as the people who lived in them. One of the young boys living in the village, Narasha, had been an exchange student in Kamloops for a semester. As well, we saw the special English School, where children go after their regular day of instruction is over, to learn English. Some of us had visited this school a few days previous and worked within the group attending. I was lucky to have been asked to teach a lesson there!! It was heartwarming to see the connections and friendships our Team Leaders, Deb & Tim Kasten, have made & maintained with people who live in the homes. Their endless enthusiasm for this work has surely been shared with the members of our group!

From there, our days events continued onward as we drove to the Udawallawalla Reserve, where we were to see many animals protected within the Park area. Our job, once we drove into the park in the jeeps, bumping up and down along the mud-soaked roadways, was to attempt to spot the many varied creatures we sighted throughout the excursion. Along the Safari route we encountered many elephants (adults as well as babies) & water buffalo (some of which lounged in the mud pools), grey lange monkeys swinging and jumping among the trees, peacocks, a turtle, crested eagles, beautiful green bee-eater birds, spotted deer, white crested king fishers, grey heron and the back of a crocodile!

The favorite sight (and rare, they told us), was the mud bog where the elephants were playfully pushing one another back & forth in the mud, as well as those that were spraying each other with muddy water sprays, right beside the roadway! T
he photo opportunities from the jeeps were spectacular and I am certain there will be many beautiful shots shared with friends & family upon our arrival home.

The drive back was as wild as they all are here - folks passing on blind corners, while going up hills, in the middle of busy towns, and any other place they decide to! Crazy and a bit harried! (No road rage, though - everything is pretty happy here!!) "Beautiful chaos" is one expression! Nonetheless, it was fun to see the fancy dress costumes amid the town celebrations, for their holiday! Many women and girls wore their special white outfits and the towns and roadways were strewn with white banners along the roadways.

We eventually arrived home to our resort, tired but excited by the day's events. We live here, snug in our cabanas, all within the sounds of the ocean surf pounding in down on the beach right out front. So, needless to say the afternoon ended with a swim in that surf and some friendly chat time on the beach with the members of our team, followed by yet another wonderful meal, before the day's end.

Norma Browne
DWC Participant

Sri Lanka 2011

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