HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR!
Holidays and Christmas blog I'll post next week- this is the blog that I meant to post before going away on holiday.
Thanks to everyone who has sent packages and cards, very exciting!
So, news from Sri Lanka.
The end of November saw a bad storm hit the South- or as the locals called it a mini cyclone. It was so concentrated it only affected a small area of the south coast. The epi-centre of the storm was in a small village half an hour along the coast, there 42 fisherman died. Our area was badly affected, trees tumbled down and cars and motorbikes were thrown off the road. Luckily, our electricity was restored in a short amount of time but for most others took several weeks.
On a cheerier note- in the same weekend in November, Erin and I chaperoned Jo and Alan to a Sri Lankan body building competition. A teacher friend had invited them along and we thought it best if we went with them! We were the only women in the male crowd. The show consisted of heavily oiled and incredibly muscled men standing on stage in their underwear doing "body building" while the male crowd got thoroughly over-excited and shouted "BEAUTIFUL, PHWOAR, VERY NIIICE." Erin and I cowered in our seats trying not to explode with laughter- especially when they started "dancing!"
Goodbye Jo and Alan
The first weekend in December Jo and Alan left to go back to the U.K- we miss them so much! They have been an important part of helping us settle in, teaching and generally enjoying Sri Lanka. The last few week with them have been amazing and they were given several lovely send off dinners and lunches .
The first of which was a visit to Mr Sunnil who invited us to teach for an hour at us at his tuition school- most Sri lankan English teachers double their salary by running tuition schools. J and A, Erin and I attempted to work our magic with songs, enthusiastic games etc, nothing doing. These zombie children were so over worked (at 6 years old) that their response was a kind of vague mumble. However we had a delicious lunch at Sunnil's afterwards and were shown hundreds of photos of his wedding.
Another goodbye dinner for Alan was at the Prinicipal of Welhengoda's house. When we first arrived she reminded me of Miss Trunchball from Matilda, in appearance and character. To my utter surprise at her own home she transformed- she had on a beautiful dress, fluttered about us as we ate, and even giggled. At home- in Alan's words- she was a cuddly teddy bear. She served us delicious curry and we went on our way.
The last few weeks of school were utter chaos- teachers were marking exam papers and so all the children aged 5-18 were given free rein of the school for two weeks, no lessons and barely any teachers. We had some particularly good lessons with the younger years, when we rounded up a class and had a big song fest with them, singng all the English songs they knew.
Alan had his leaving assembly at school- the 6 of us went into Welhengoda. We were treated to some amazing Sri lankan dancing from the children and some previously unknown musical talent from the English teachers. Our classes blasted out their English songs with enthusiasm. It culminated in a speech from Alan and some beautiful songs.
The next day was Jo's leaving assembly at unawatuna. There was the usual dancing and singing and some veery long speeches (we read our books through most of them). When Jo stood to do her speech however the atmosphere changed, after the first few words the audience for the first time fell completely silent- she was speaking in Sinhala! We finished with the 6 of us singing auld lang syne - before Jo handed over her present to the school, a new bell with the words engraved on it, for auld lang syne. Jo was given so many flowers by the end of the week that she had to have 4 other people carry them for her!
After Jo's leaving assembly Erin and I hot footed it to meet the teachers from Welhengoda who were having a retirement lunch party. We were greeted with enthusiasm by the other female teachers, and had a delicious lunch. We noticed the party was devoid of the male teachers and asked where they were. The women laughed and said they were up stairs drinking arraq. One was despatched into the male drinking den to bring down the head of our department Mr Ravindra. He stumbled down the stairs and chatted to us bleary eyed and quite obviously severely pissed. We were astounded: here was sensible Mr Ravindra, ex-General in the army, excellent flute player and most importantly Buddhist- swaying in front of us. He was also supposed to be taking us home, which was miles away. Luckily the woman came to the rescue. They took us to the bus stop and ensured we got on the right bus home!
The last Friday at school we had to stay at Mihirpenna at their assembly for political reasons and so missed Jo's final leaving assembly. At Mihiripenna we completed our songs, I made an unprepared and nervous speech and we headed home just in time to arrive at Jo's after-party for some cake and juice!
Jo and Alan's last day
On their last day Jo and Alan took us to a beautiful pool in the middle of the rainforest. The pool has a natural stone floor and is filled by a stream. We had a good time playing games and swimming, then had a delicious picnic of home made roti and chocolate!
Erin and I then disappeared into the tea fields to get changed. In the middle of getting changed I noticed a black worm on my foot. I tried to brush it off- it disappeared inside! It was a leech, I looked at my other foot and realised it was covered in leeches. I tried to brush them off. They stuck to my hands. I have to admit at that moment I slightly panicked- believing leeches could burrow through skin and that they were swimming around my bloodstream- possibly eating my insides . I picked up my stuff- also covered in leeches! I walked swiftly back to the others calmly informing them that I was covered in leeches and asking how to get rid of them/ ran back to the group- shouting "there's a leech inside me, they are iNSIDE ME, Oh god the leeches have got inside me- HOW DO I GET THEM OFF!" to the amusement of surrounding Sri Lankans . Jo took me to the river and hastily washed most of them away. We have now encountered many leeches on our travels and I know they are nothing to be afraid of!
In the evening the six of us went to our favourite roti shop and afterwards went home for a traditional crumble made by the Browns. We had a show tune themed music evening- and erin performed by herself for the first time which was fab! We made a teary farewell and the next day headed off on our travels.
So next week will be the crimbo blog! Speak to you all soon and thank you so much for the amazing Christmas prezzies!