Sri Lanka Blog
Yes I know what you're all thinking. AREN'T I HOME? Why am I still prattling on about Sri Lanka? Well, I wrote this blog in July while I was out there so I thought I may as well post it so I have the full year posted….
As always it's been a busy month teaching- Next week is our last week and I've been thinking about how much I'm going to miss the kids, although I will not miss the 6:15 start! Stuff this month:
· The grade 1's at Mihiripenna discovered that I had extremely tickly feet and all decided to get down on their hands and knees to chase me out the classroom.
· We took part in the Dengue campaign, which involved cleaning the school instead of lessons. We tried to teach our younger years as they were not involved but were told our kids were having "too much fun" which was making the older children, who had to clean, jealous. After cleaning we marched through the local village with anti-mosquito banners the kids had made.
· We were teaching "I want" to classes, when I asked one of the 8 year old boys he got confused and blurted out, "I… want… YOU!". Cue lots of laughing from the class teacher and Erin!
· We were so happy when by some of the mums told us their children were beginning to speak English at home. Our friend was so proud that her son announced to her, "I like mangoes but I don't like pineapple."
I can now go home happy. We've seen leopards. We didn't just see them, we got close enough to get eaten by them. As an amazing birthday prezzie, Joan took us to Yala, a national park on the South Coast. We spent a happy few hours cruising around in a jeep and saw hundreds of crocs, an elephant and her baby, deer fighting and a beautiful star tortoise. Then right at the end of the day we saw a massive leopard having an arguing match with a crocodile before disappearing into the distance. The other jeeps sped off to observe it from another point, but our jeep was facing the WRONG WAY. Argh! he had to drive off, find a road to turn around and then rush off to try and catch up with the 20 other jeeps. Just as we were careening along we noticed something. The leopard had given the jeeps the slip and was doubling back on itself. It was walking towards us. It got closer, and closer, then so close that had it leapt we would have been in trouble. It didn't. It veered round the front of the jeep and disappeared into the bushes. Amazing!
On the way home from Yala we stopped off at a lake to get a boat tour. We drove round these huge trees which somehow grew straight into the water and were literally covered in millions of bats, swooping, screeching and generally causing mayhem. Our over enthusiastic tour guide made us very nervous when he fell in the lake, which had a few resident crocodiles. He refused to climb back in and insisted on swimming to get us lotus flowers, in an attempt to redeem himself. He came back with all limbs intact so it was a good end to the weekend!
Our friend Kalpa's cousin was getting married and she managed to wangle us an invite, as we really wanted to see a Sri Lankan wedding.
Sri Lankan weddings are split into two parts, there is the wedding, then the couple leave for a few days to consummate the marriage, then the homecoming where they return and everyone has a party. The groom wears magnificent traditional dress, the dress of Sri Lankan kings, it is unbelievably heavy and so large that most grooms look obese! The bride wears a beautiful and intricate white wedding sari to her wedding and a red one to the home coming.
Erin and I dressed ourselves in our beautiful new wedding saris; Erin attempted to iron my hair; we decked ourselves out in bangles and jewels and set off in anticipation of a fantastic day- We had been at the hotel for 5 minutes when poor Erin fell down a flight of solid concrete stairs, her shoe was broken but luckily she survived with just a badly bruised foot.
The bride and groom arrived accompanied by dancers and drummers, the ceremony involved lots of chanting, monks blessing, symbolic giving of food and clothes to each other. Everyone spent the next 4 hours eating and chatting, well, everyone except us. Since becoming teachers Erin and I appear to have become child magnets, the 4 children at the wedding soon became our best friends and followed us about. We spend so much time hanging out with children that I'm pretty sure I've lost any social skills in talking to adults.
It was fine until they decided to re-do our make-up, eyebrows, beauty spots, red lipstick, a quick glance in the mirror confirmed our fears, we were now modelling a clown look. The bride and groom began approaching our table to greet us, with their t.v camera and photographer and we were forced into a dash from the room into an attempt to retain some dignity. After scrubbing our faces thoroughly we returned. We hadn't noticed the lack of men, until they all came pouring into the room, unbelievably drunk and proceeded to do the most hilarious dance moves I have ever seen in my life. We enjoyed watching the 30 or so men aged between 20 and 80 dancing, jumping, spinning, grinding and generally falling over on the dance floor, while the other women, who aren't allowed to drink sat aside. Eventually however everyone was up, aunties, grannies, children, dancing to the hindi music. I was hi-jacked by the bride's mother who was determined to waltz with me. Yes. Waltz, to fast beat hindi music. Her version was to jump from side to side then spin me around. Unfortunately my waltzing was not up to her standards and she started shouting at me for standing on her feet. I made some excuses and escaped!
The last part of July and August was just as crazyily amazing as the first 11 months. We had a few leaving assemblies at the schools, and received plaques, certificates, cards and flowers which were all beautiful. The goodbyes were typical of our time in Sri Lanka, the kids were lining up to say goodbye with flowers and gifts, one grubby little boy had nothing. When it came to his turn he looked sadly up at me and unfurled his hand to produce a small, dirty dice, which he then gave to me as though handing over gold. I felt so guilty receiving all these wonderful card and small gifts, but people were offended when we tried to give them back. After finishing school we spent lots of time at friends house's getting stuffed full of rice and curry (yum I miss it soo much!) a few weeks with a good friend in Ella and then the plane home to weird, weird Britain.