First of all, for those of you in the
Seenigama (the village I’m volunteering in) is on the SW coast close to
Yes, I have got used to eating with my fingers, much to the amusement of the locals as I’m not that good at it. In general great food is had for about 30p – lunches wrapped in banana leaves. I’ve also discovered a fab little wooden veranda café run by the local matriarchs – fresh juice; avocado, egg and bacon hoppers to die for; huge fruit platters for a quid; and the best ginger cake ever. No, I’m not thin any more!
Originally arriving here was tough – this place was totally devastated by the tsunami, the water came inland 2km, reached the ceiling in some houses and destroyed many. In our village 200 people out of 1500 were killed, hard to comprehend. A lot of this was due to the fact they have been illegally coral mining for 100 years so there was less reef protection here and the sea was able to come in further. This was also the area that the train was hit by the tsunami, 2000 people died in those carriages many of them locals who got on to escape the smaller first wave. When I initially arrived the kids were saying to me ‘come to tsunami training’ or ‘my mother tsunami training’ which of course I thought was some kind of educational training scheme! It took a little while for the cogs to start moving and for me to realise they meant come to see the train that so many people were killed in. They are very forgiving here! Death is also different in this culture as they are a Buddhist village so move on in ways we don’t know how to.
Being back at work has of course been a bit of a shocker! When I got here I felt a little lost and wasn’t really sure how to help, then things roller coastered and I am now working between the
Driving here is
Wildlife is a bit hit and miss in that I haven’t seen much here yet, the odd parrot and a dead whale on the beach! Other than that crabs everywhere! In the guesthouse I stay in by the beach there was one crawling on the inside of my mosy net the other night. You also encounter them in the shower and see hermit crabs crawling across the restaurant floors as if attempting some amazing new disguise – it really doesn’t work.
Not in the right part of SL for wild elephants but have seen a few in the Perahera religious festival here. Considering that the Seenigama Perahera was totally scaled down due to the tsunami it was still quite something to experience. 3 days of street parades with elephants, floats and all the village kids and lads n lasses that I know dressed up and dancing. Each day got better and the last night was spent in the tent with the high priest, watching the Kandian dancers do their devil dance (warning off the devil in case you’re wondering!) and then at 5am watching some of my friends fire walking – a crazy and trance-like experience. They also have Poya day every month (full moon) which means a public holiday, supposedly time off.
There is a lot of celebrating here, two of the volunteers that were here for a long time have left since I’ve worked here – one got a send off on the back of a bull cart behind a village procession of dancers and kids, the other got paraded through the village on an elephant with the dancers and villagers ahead. The village processions were followed by amazing parties, one of them would have topped an exclusive LA club any day, and shocked some Drs from New York who had recently arrived as they realised their city wasn’t necessarily the best party place in the world! All an incredible experience.
Have been working hard so not travelling but actually did have one fantastic w/e off. A treat for us hard working volunteers to a boutique villa the other side of