I arrived safely in Colombo after a long overnight journey. I was delayed a while at check-in and immigration because I only had a one-way ticket, which prompted some questions but was resolved fairly quickly. I was relieved to be met at the airport and taken to the guest house where I am staying for two weeks during the in-country training. There are two other volunteers at the guest house, which we have also been sharing with two academics from the US and an Indian couple.
It was lovely to finally meet the other volunteers on Monday morning and to meet up again with Eve and Beverley. I spent the first morning catching up on last weeks sinhala language lessons in just two hours! We have been spending each morning learning sinhala, (which is a fun language) and then having various talks in the afternoon. The main theme has been around the ethnic conflict, which is both very evident and not evident in daily life here.
We have had a little bit of time off to explore and of course shopping has been on the agenda. Dress code is very important here and so I have had to go and buy some more clothes! I turned up for language class proudly wearing my new attire to be greeted by one of our lovely teachers "You look different today, mmm, we have a very good tailor in Kurunegala and I will show you where you can buy very nice material" Translation: "What are you wearing!!!"
Colombo is a very confusing place. There is no city centre so it is hard to get your bearings. The roads are extremely congested and polluted and I everyone seems to have right of way! The easiest way to get around is in a trishaw (a motorised threewheeler) but is a little hairy scary. There are lots of lovely things to see and places to eat as well and the shopping is very cheap by UK standards...but not so by a volunteers. We are planning to meet this evening at the Galle Face Hotel overlooking the sea for a drink and watch the sun go down...oh the pressure!