I wrote the below a few days ago, since then very sadly one of my friends was killed in a bike accident. Ravi was a vibrant and fun 24 year old with his whole life ahead of him, tragically that was taken away from him yesterday afternoon. We will miss him very much.
Live life to the full – you only have one chance.
I can't quite believe it's been almost a year since I last wrote anything of worth in terms of my travels and life in Sri Lanka. Apologies for being hopeless at keeping in touch. A big thanks to those of you who have been in contact over the year to check to see if I was still alive whilst residing in a country at war. War seems very far away this morning as I sit on the bench outside the house coffee in hand, sun shining, birds tweeting and some strange old man gathering piles of wood from the jungle delivering them to the landlord's house next door.
Where to start?! A year being a long time there's a lot that's happened, and no day is the same in mad third world Asia! So, I'll do small chapters of what I've been up to - read what you like, skip what you like, and I hope you at least enjoy some of it....
Before heading back to Sri Lanka for year I sent myself off on a short travel writing and photography course in remotest Cornwall last April to gather knowledge from the great and the good learning how to get articles written and published. In true Faye style I ended up drinking until 3 every morning with a small hard core group (usually consisting of me, 2 others and the course tutors). I learnt that I'm a good writer and should just get on with it, took away some valuable photography tips, and also came away with Bron who I managed to persuade to come and live with me in Sri Lanka! Bron is the same age as me, has the same drinking capacity, has been travelling on and off for 10 years, and is the perfect partner for me. He's also a very good photographer and is enjoying capturing the beauty of this small island.
Due to the somewhat short notice of having to pack up his life, Bron didn't return with me for my first month back in SL. June was a little tough - tourist season over, bars and restaurants all closed, and endless rain weren't a great start. Plus the building I came back to manage (a new sports centre) wasn't even remotely on its way to being built (the land hadn't even been bought). However, this was all soon put behind me and I was back into enjoying Sri Lankan life - local kids round at the house every night playing Ludo, practicing English and making me dance Sri Lankan style. Then the boys would be around later in the evening playing chess and putting on all the bad music from my Ipod. So after getting established again, realising it was all going to be OK, I headed back to the UK for a wedding and to make sure Bron really was going to come back with me.
Leaving Civilisation (again and again and again!)
Bron returned with me in July, and a quick trip to the dodgy guy in Immigration ensured a 3-month visa for the 2 of us. So we thought 'no problem' this is how we can stay here by extending our visas every time we fly in. (This was due to the lack of foresight by the charity I work for in looking to get me a work permit and resident visa for my year back here.) However, soon we were to discover that foreigners were no longer welcome in SL (particularly NGO staff) and the government banned the likes of us from extending our visas. Suffice to say there were a few months of fire-fighting emails at work, some fairly unpleasant and unnecessary words were said, and we had no idea as to whether we could stay in the country or not. Very unsettling, and this still goes on! We returned to the UK in September (another wedding) and came back to discover the charity had been refused my work permit as I didn't have my degree certificates - so back to the UK again in October to find them. Thinking this would shut up the Immigration lot and give me my year's working visa I was wrong - eventually I got a 6 month visa in December but they backdated it therefore ready to throw me out again in February. The reason?? This time they wanted me to get a police check done in the UK. Cunning though they thought they were in thinking that would get rid of me, I have had a police check done for the last 6 years for my job at the BBC and had recently had it renewed. So they have now allowed me to stay until end of August this year - what a struggle!! Bron has to keep coming and going as we can't get him a resident visa because we're not married. "It's all pissu" (crazy) as they say in SL! Why are we so unwelcome here?
War and Politics
There's not much I can write for fear of being thrown out of the country or thrown into a little white van never to be seen again. The political situation here is very sad with the Tamil Tigers and the government bombing the hell out of each other and civilians being caught in the middle. Colombo has become a military city with army blocks on every corner interrogating you for travelling anywhere by tuktuk, bus or car - this is due to the odd tuktuk and bus bombs we've been having here. NGO staff are not welcome as they are seen as either siding with the Tamils, or re-colonising SL taking it back into Europe's hold! Journalists are also v unwelcome and mostly unable to get to the right places to report anything accurate. For example, there was a bomb on a bus just close to our village - 15 people were killed and the stories in the press were entirely exaggerated and in the main totally untrue. There was also a suicide boat bomb in Galle (20km away) which woke me up one morning, and the reports spoke of an attack on a tourist port when in reality the attack was entirely military - the Tigers bombing the SL Navy base, not affecting tourists or civilians at all.
The SL cabinet has 54 members making it quite ineffectual and peace talks seem very far away. However, all this seems very far away living on the southwest coast, and we are lucky that it doesn't really affect us. Not so for the poor people living north and east where the situation is really quite dire.
Looking for a house to live in, in monsoon season, involved travelling down tiny roads enclosed in a tuktuk floating its way through mud and water to help us find somewhere to park ourselves for a year. What is wonderful here is that everyone is willing to help, providing you ask, so many a night were spent looking around mostly entirely inappropriate houses with the local lawyer, an eccentric chap from India, tuktuk drivers - who all seemed to have a house to rent, and the local lads. Huge houses, pokey houses, knackered old houses, and new palaces were perused and we ended up with a small 2-bedroom house in the jungle, overlooking paddy fields, with a garden full of exotic trees and birds. It was the only one we managed to negotiate down to £50 a month and in hindsight was most definitely the best of the bunch.
A bit of work was needed on the house - we got it painted throughout including the floor, plus got a new mattress and second hand 1970s fridge all for £40. We also had to buy a sofa and a washing machine. The washing machine is more like a toy - you fill one side with water and soap powder, throw in your clothes, turn the machine on to churn clothes around a bit, drain the water. Fill up the thing again to rinse stuff, by which time all items are completely tangled. Drain again, untangle, then put in the spinning side of the machine. Spin and hang out to dry if sunny or hang around the house in monsoon season hoping not to grow too much mould on your favourite top.
Aside from washing clothes there's also the issue of washing yourself. The water system in the house is actually v advanced for the world we live in here. There is a well outside, an electric water pump pumps the water from the well into a concrete water tank which holds about 2 days worth of water, and this is the source of water for the house. Quality of the water would be likely to shock most UK water inspectors - sometimes it's a little off colour and doesn't smell that great and other times it's lovely and clear. Anyway, at least there is an abundance of the stuff as we are in one of the wettest parts of Sri Lanka. However, I am still not used to cold showers every day - particularly in the morning before the sun has warmed up the water in the tank.
Aside from braving the cold showers, the house is really nice. We are slightly up on a bank so there's a breeze coming through and the house is surrounded by Mango trees, Coconut Trees, Beli fruit and Wood Apple trees, Cinnamon, Bamboo and Ferns - all in all making it a cool and tranquil spot. That is of course apart from the wildlife...
From day one we have had to battle with the wildlife for ownership of the house, the early days were somewhat timid and many a night was spent hiding under the mosquito net. However, those days are gone and it is essential to be ruthless to preserve your spot (i.e. the house). When you walk into the house you walk into the main room and as with all SL houses there is a little Buddha statue ahead of you - ours is in a small alcove at the top of the opposite wall. On our first day here the Buddha's head was covered by a giant spider wrapped around the statue and ready to pounce on anyone after its territory. Naturally we hid in the bedroom so as not to look at the monster, and by doing so hoped it would go away. It didn't. Returning from dinner that night we looked up at the statue and the monster spider had gone - excellent, but where to? There it was in the middle of the floor (so large it was almost comical) where it was busy stalking one of the biggest cockroaches I have ever seen. So I hid around the corner whilst Bron did the needful and chased the spider out with a broom - all I could see was this huge thing with wobbly legs running off into the distance. Then it was my turn - out with the Baygon bottle to kill the giant cockroach, half the bottle later and it was lying upside down with its little (?) legs in the air. We seem to get all the freaks too - the spiders tend to be dish-plate size and often have less than 8 legs. Bron chased one the other day which only had 5 legs and all it could do was run around in circles - apparently they are harmless, so that's alright then?!
The other battle we have is with the ants. One day we discovered a small ring of dust under the bed in the spare room, the room hadn't been used for a while and I had only been in there to give it the odd sweep. So we cautiously removed the mattress, put that and everything else outside then armed ourselves with Baygon and Citronella. Slowly we lifted the wooden board which sits on top of wooden planks, and to our horror there was a huge ants' nest in between the two. Hundreds of big ants, huge white eggs and flying ants all of which had been happily residing under the mattress - it was like a scene from an Indiana Jones film. Chaos and screaming, Baygon and Citronella spraying, plus us slamming the door and scarpering brought the landlord over to see what was happening. He saved the day by braving the room and clearing out the nest, bewildered by our fear and disgust - apparently they are harmless. So that's alright then??!! Needless to say we now clean and scrub the spare room on a regular basis even when it's not in use. The spiders, cockroaches and ants are the only nasties we have to deal with - fortunately the scorpions don't seem to come into the house, and we've only had one snake saunter through so far!
Aside from the creepies we have a garden full of wonderfully exotic birds - a bird watcher's paradise. Bright red Woodpeckers, with grey speckled fronts looking much like Professor Yaffle of Bagpuss fame; green papaya birds with orange eyes; metallic blue humming birds; majestic Kingfishers; Asian Paradise Flycatchers - an elegant bird with tufty black head, rustic brown body and long sweeping tail. There are many other birds I don't know the names of including those I call 'tweety birds' who hop around the garden in gangs of 7 or more making a huge tweeting racket... and of course we also have the more common birds such as the Magpie Robin (a neat little black & white bird), even the Pigeons are exotic with green bodies and orange chests. Along with the birds the garden has the odd snake or two, mongoose, monitor lizard (4 foot long and prehistoric), and the occasional monkey passing through the trees.
Inside the house we have palm cats living in the roof. These are nocturnal creatures and many a sundowner is spent watching them come out for the night - they are a cross between a possum, a mongoose and a fox. As we sit on our bench a shaggy head and inquisitive snout will look down at us from the hole in the roof, checking us out before climbing onto the roof and crossing the electricity wire to reach the trees. We also have palm squirrels living in the house (chipmunks to you) - there is a nest above one of the windows and a nest in the Buddha statue which is a welcome change from the monster spider. The Buddha statue squirrel built its nest when we were away for a week. We came back to find a scruffy nest in the statue, debris everywhere, and a pair of my knickers taking up centre piece of the nest - the cheeky squirrel had stolen them when we left the washing out to dry!! So far there have been 4 baby squirrels born since we moved in - v cute. We also have a family of geckos, one particularly noisy one in the kitchen which protests with loud clucking noises if it gets disturbed, it is also quite partial to cake and ice-cream. Frogs are a common feature in the house, small ones that hop around the rooms and stand upright on their tip toes to squeeze through any small gaps, they are quite at home here and have got so used to us that when we came home the other night two of them were waiting on the front door step to be let in!
No day or night is the same. Full moon or monsoon bring about the most extreme jungle behaviour, often with a deafening noise from the insects, birds and frogs but most annoyingly from the landlord's dog who joins in the chorus of strays keeping us awake for nights on end barking at nothing. The monks wake us up at 5am with their Poya day chanting, oblivious to the idea of privacy and clearly - sleep! Visitors have all been pleasantly surprised with the place though, and some even profess to miss their time at the jungle house.
When you go away for a year or so everyone plans to come out and visit you, plotting a time of year they can come, checking out what to see and looking forward to discovering a different side to a country. Of course most of the time people are never able to come when they say they can, and I'm just as guilty as the next person of doing that. However, we have been lucky and have had a string of visitors since we settled in here which has been excellent. First to check us out was Nick - the other trouble maker / late night drinker in our party of 3 from the Cornwall course. He was writing an article in India so popped to Sri Lanka for 4 days to see us, experience a ride with 7 in a tuktuk and brave hiring a moped on the very crazy SL roads. In November a BBC visitor - Shauna with her boyfriend Nick tackled the late monsoonal rains to tour around Sri Lanka and catch up with us half way round on Hikkaduwa beach. They got some good deals and upgrades in some of the nicest boutique hotels due to the quiet time of year.
Next to visit were my Mum and my step-dad (Tony) for 5 weeks, joined for 3 weeks by my great aunt Sue from Oz. They came for a mixture of seeing where we live; finding out more about my work and seeing just what did drag me all the way over here after quitting the BBC; spending time chilling in the jungle house and on Hikkaduwa beach; seeing some of Sri Lanka (more of which in 'trips around sri lanka') and spending a couple of days on the tea estate mum grew up on - Hapugastenne.
Mum grew up in Sri Lanka in a house so remote that she had to be taught her first 6 or 7 years of schooling by my grandmother at home before being packed off to boarding school in the Hill Country with all the other estate kids, then finally being sent off to boarding school in the UK as that was the way things were done back then. How she coped with such a different upbringing, particularly the getting to the UK part, is amazing. Hapugastenne tea estate is in the middle of the southern part of Sri Lanka, just north of a town called Ratnapura. From Ratnapura you pretty much drive up hill for 20km before you reach the house mum grew up in. The house is a stunning bungalow literally on top of the world, all you see for miles are mountains of tea - misty cloud below with shadowy peaks pushing their way through. These days the journey from Colombo is about 3 hours, in those days it was more like 5 or 6 hours on a good day. Therefore, mum's childhood was on top of a tea mountain with my grandparents and all the cooks, gardeners, drivers, etc. that came with the house. Isolated in tranquillity she absolutely loved every minute of it. Meanwhile back in the UK my great aunt Sue was getting on with her studies and career and unable to make such a long trip to Sri Lanka which in those day was quite an ordeal. This trip was Sue's first ever visit to the island and seeing Hapugastenne finally brought all the familiar names and descriptions to life, making them a reality and putting a lot into perspective. For Sue I think a missing part of the jigsaw was found, for Mum it was back to being 'little missy' for a couple of days - fondly remembering a happy childhood and feeling ever closer to those she shared it with. An emotional time for all.
Slight detour there up tea mountains... back to the visit. Poor Mum and Tony probably had the worst Christmas ever! It started well with a great Christmas Eve party at the jungle house with friends from Hikkaduwa, guys from work and some of the other volunteers coming to celebrate. After that, a big meal out in Hikkaduwa and then the younger lot partying until 5am in Mambos Beach Bar. Although great for Bron and I in terms of a good night out, when it came to opening presents and having champagne for breakfast the next day there was no sign of us. We eventually struggled out for a late breakfast before crawling back to bed and then awakening at 4pm to Mum and Tony opening the champagne and having Christmas by themselves for fear it would be over before we acknowledged it. Oh dear! I think they'll opt for the traditional this year.
All in all I think they had a good time here. Tony found a substitute for wine in Arrack - an initiation we put all our visitors through, and most of them take a liking to it (very nice with coke and ice), he also found some good opportunities to be artistic and captured some lovely parts of Sri Lanka with his paintings. Mum enjoyed the jungle house - the tranquillity and the birds, plus she had the rare opportunity of being mum and doing all our washing, very spoilt we were! Sue sensibly stayed in a v pleasant family run B&B up the road, and wandered down to the jungle house for morning coffee and bird watching with mum. All this whilst I was busy at work!! We also saw a lot of the island with them - more of that later.
Next visit was a cunningly planned surprise trip. I was contacted at the end of January by one of Bron's best mates - Simon, who thought it would be a laugh to come out to visit completely surprising Bron who would never believe Simon would a) have the time to get away, and b) come to Asia. So lots of secret planning was done - booking a van to pick up Simon, booking a B&B, making plans and just getting Bron to the right place at the right time was all a bit of a struggle. However we pulled it off and Bron was completely surprised and very pleased to have a chum to hang around with for a couple of weeks. It was Simon's first trip to Asia so a bit of a shock particularly the roads, the intense heat, the poverty, and our water system which so shocked him that he was going to take a sample back to the UK, fortunately he didn't as I don't think we'd have wanted to know the results!
A couple of weeks after Simon left, arrived my friend Cameron on a month long holiday after working way too hard (and v successfully) in TV land. Cameron had come from India where he had travelled to a friend's wedding which sounded like a spectacular affair and v traditional - lasting 4 days. He'd been in India for a few weeks so was already in Asia time - very laid back, chilled and keen to see some of the best spots in SL. His visit reminded us how lucky we are here with fantastic beaches, heaps to see, and wonderful restaurants in Galle and Colombo though sadly Hikkaduwa is still somewhat lacking. It was sad to say our goodbyes to Cam - our last visitor for a while.
Trips Around Sri Lanka
One of the great things about having visitors is that they force you to get out and see some of the island. We have been on safari, stalked elephants, glimpsed bears, seen an abundance of birds, stayed in luxurious hotels, stayed in complete dumps, had great food, had inedible tourist tack, been eaten by insects and eyeballed by monkeys. Here are a few of the places we went to:-
Yala National Park - famous for its elusive leopard of which there are only about 35 in the park (which is HUGE). This is on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka, a stunning 5 hour coastal drive from Hikkaduwa. The park took us away from our jungle home into more flat/dry land, with 100s of species of birds, many an elephant, cunningly submerged water buffalo, crocodiles, wild boar, and monkeys. We stayed in the fairly up market Yala Village just outside the park where we slept in log cabins on stilts overlooking the sand dunes and the rugged southeastern coast line. Quite a beautiful setting. We were in the path of the elephants who often wandered past the cabin after a stroll up the beach. The beach had large elephant footprints in the sand and elephant bum marks where they had slid down the sand dunes! One night we awoke to tree branches being snapped off just outside the cabin and saw a big tusker elephant merrily munching away on the leaves. Like star stuck teenagers we watched this spectacle for over an hour until he got bored with the scrutiny, came up to the balcony, checked us out with his trunk and then wandered off into the night. I think we saw more wildlife from our balcony then in the park! We must have been the only group not to have spotted a leopard - even though we tried twice on separate safari trips, one at 5.30am and one early evening. However, the park itself was amazing to see and we did get a good view of 3 sloth bears - big black shaggy creatures of which there are only 25 in the park so we couldn't complain.
Uda Walawe National Park - this park is an elephant haven. A huge national park, much like the terrain of Yala but with the mountains of Sri Lanka's hill country in the distance. It is more central although still about 5 hours away from us, nowhere is easy to get to here! This is where we got our elephant fix - we must have seen about 80 elephants in our one safari trip including little babies with their strange wooden walks trying to catch up with all the adults, looking very cheeky in true dumbo style. This should arguably be one of Sri Lanka's best tourist attractions however they seem oblivious to this because the accommodation options near the park were diabolical. For the first night we stayed in a horrendous cockroach/mozzie infested pit too scared to sleep for fear of creatures sneaking their way in under the mozzie net! The second night we decided against all odds we would have to stay in the only expensive hotel in the area - very 1970s and highly over priced. However, we got them to drop their price by more than half and I think a lot of cash in hands went on so our visit was probably never recorded. At least we got a good sleep and even a swim in a surprisingly decent pool.
Kandy Perahera - sticking with the elephant theme here, the perahera (which is a cultural / religious procession) boasts hundreds of elephants all dressed up in spectacular garments with masks lit up on their faces. This is Sri Lanka's biggest festival and lasts for 2 weeks finishing on the August Poya Day (full moon). Many tourists flock to Kandy for this festival all staying in the city and paying crazy prices for balcony seats to watch the festival go by their particular hotel. When we discovered that one ticket cost the same as our house rent for a month we thought it best to hang out with the locals and catch whatever glimpses we could of the festival. When we were there the processions were at night ending around midnight (this was towards the end of the festival - at the beginning they have day time processions). Despite our lack of luxury seating we somehow managed to walk through a fair few barriers and get ourselves to the start of the procession - we still don't quite know how we did this particularly with security being so tight (foreigners are suspected of being terrorists thereby often sent in the opposite direction to the action). We spent a few hours taking some great photos, meeting people in the procession from old men to young kids and soaking up the atmosphere from a very privileged position. Even on the last night, when they had closed off access to the procession, we managed to use my old BBC pass to blag our way in. We were able to witness the highlight of the Kandy Perahera and watch the sacred elephant walk out from the temple grounds, white cloth rolled before its huge soft padded feet so as not to touch the dirty ground. Dancers paraded in front bowing to the elephant, other elephants followed dancing to the drums, then processions of people in different regalia followed for hours. Not easy to describe but it was a huge event full of celebration, colour, and a carnival atmosphere.
Cultural Triangle - so called as there are 3 areas of Sri Lankan history all within close-ish proximity to each other in the middle of the country. We only managed to get to one corner of the triangle which hosts the ancient sites around Dambulla. Dambulla Caves - the 5 temple caves set under a huge rock overhang (with a steep sweaty climb to get there) are absolutely incredible. They are over 2000 years old and house some spectacular Buddhist statues and murals. Close by is the equally impressive Sigiriya Rock - sticking out from the surrounding flat land some 200m high, the rock has the remains of a cleverly built palace some 1500 years ago, built by one of Sri Lanka's maddest kings who killed his father and was protecting himself against invasion by his brother. A hot and sticky but interesting climb to the top with great views to reward you - however ours was more of a mad dash as we wanted to get back to the hotel before breakfast finished! The hotel was the luxurious Kandalama which is one of Bawa's best works (Sri Lanka's famous architect that was) - a hotel built into a mountain of rock surrounded by greenery and monkeys, all overhanging the Kandalama lake. Mum had been more than generous in not only persuading us to join them there but in cunningly getting us all an upgrade into very fancy suites with huge baths and showers. Endless HOT water - bliss!! On our return we took a gamble on the new Rough Guide and discovered a wonderfully tranquil non-tourist spot, Arankele - a 6th century monks' retreat set in the forest. The site is of ancient ruins which you discover after walking through a very peaceful monastery, the most magical of places with a 500m meditation walk which descends gradually through a series of steps taking you deeper into the forest. Even the most non-spiritual of people would be impressed.
Lion King Territory - Sinharaja Rain Forest is full of endemic species of plants, birds and wildlife and would be much appreciated by any visiting botanist. It's supposed to be one of the places to check out on the island so we took Simon along to see it after our trip to Uda Walawe. The drive there was incredible - driving through mountains of tea with views for miles and miles on a cloudless day. It was huge amount to take in and to top that it was a Tamil religious day and we passed a colourful festival with women in saris carrying all sorts of flowers, fruits and vegetables as temple offerings. However, this may have been the best part of the trip. We arrived exhausted at our Sinharaja guide's guest house and were soon whisked off in his creaky old 4WD to the rain forest which took an hour to get to. The rain forest was as to be expected with tall trees, insect noises and high humidity. Our guide was full of knowledge and intent on taking us through the thickest parts of the forest. However what he was refusing to acknowledge was the problem with the LEECHES!!! The forest was FULL of leeches - they back-flip across the forest floor towards you, wiggle their way up your sock and into your leg faster than you can blink, then they bury their way in until they're so fat and full of your blood that they drop off. Sinharaja was riddled with them, and to those of us not used to them it wasn't exactly an afternoon stroll. I don't think our guide has been marched out of the forest so fast before in his life!
Well apart from all the trips around Sri Lanka there is still always work to tell you about. Afterall that's what brought me back here in the first place so it must have a mention! As some of you may remember I came back here to continue working on the sports project I set up in 2005 plus to set up and run a new sports centre being built. I also returned on the basis of getting USD$1,000 a month for expenses. Well in true Sri Lankan style that wasn't quite how it worked out. The sport centre is still yet to be built and the $1k was a figure plucked out of someone's imagination to get me back here - it turns out it was not an amount they could remotely afford to pay me. So after working yet another 3 months for free I have been getting £250 a month since last September which is just about manageable. What I've managed to do is build on the sports project I set up with Asanka and Thushara and we've turned it into something much bigger benefiting young people from across this region of Sri Lanka. For example in our sea swimming competition we used to have about 10 competitors if we were lucky - last month 72 people took part including 2 sisters aged 7 and 9 swimming almost 2km and still coming out smiling. We've also introduced football to the project (it had to be done!) so we play beach footy once a quarter as well as cricket, volleyball, beach volleyball, x-country, athletics, badminton and swimming. Nearly 2 years on the project is still making a big difference to the lives of the really poor kids here, so whatever false promises I came back on I am still able to make a difference which is what it's all about at the end of the day.
I've also taken over looking after all the volunteers who come here - that way they at least get the truth told to them so they know what to expect when they get here! On top of that I'm organising cricket matches for teams travelling here from the UK - in February we opened a new cricket ground which is now the best in this part of Sri Lanka (quite bizarre for a poor rural village) and this has sparked interest within the tourist industry. So we are hosting UK school teams in April and also Barmy Army teams later in the year when the England team travels here to play SL. The UK teams will play cricket against our village lads, donate kit and get to see a part of Sri Lanka that would normally be hidden from them as they usually play against Sri Lanka's rich kids in the colleges and clubs around the island. This is good exposure for us and gives tourists a view of the poorer side of Sri Lanka without having poverty thrown in their faces.
Work, although good, is also full of politics some of which shouldn't be part of a small NGO including things I don't quite approve of. So for me, the year I've promised them is nearly up and it's time to seek out a new job and earn money again. Ideally I'm looking for work in an NGO here, not quite ready to return to the UK yet but time will tell!
Living in Sri Lanka
Aside from work, life here is one big rollercoaster. It's really quite difficult to describe though visitors here wonder how Bron and I get on in the daily struggle of just getting things done. In the house we battle over control with the insects; on the beach we battle with the human parasites determined to rip you off; going to work it's push and shove on the local buses after standing in 36 degree heat waiting for 3 to turn up at once; and it can also be a struggle just to get anything done - it usually takes at least 6 phone calls! However, on the other side of that the people here are great, the scenery is spectacular - we are a 5 minute walk from a huge and beautiful beach, the climate is wonderful (never a jumper need be worn) and if we get fed up we have gym and pool membership at one of Sri Lanka's top hotels in a gorgeous setting, 20 minutes down the road from us. Not bad!
So that's a brief overview of my news for almost a year now! Future plans are:-
* a trip to Oz for 3 weeks in April for roast lamb, wine, movies, relaxing and visiting family
* to stay here a little longer depending on job opportunities
* to return to the UK in June (tickets prices depending) to soak up some western culture and catch up on lives in blighty
* to welcome anyone that wants to come and visit this fantastic and complex little island
Take a look at some of my Sri Lanka photos by clicking on the link below:
Would love to hear any news from you guys in return. Hope life is treating you all well.
I wrote the below a few days ago, since then very sadly one of my friends was killed in a bike accident. Ravi was a vibrant and fun 24 year old with his whole life ahead of him, tragically that was taken away from him yesterday afternoon. We will miss him very much.
Posted by Faye at Thursday, March 29, 2007