The past two weeks have been a bit grim, with a stomach bug which has hit Haley and I rather badly appearing on and off, meaning that one minute I'm teaching netball and the next I'll have my head over a toilet. It could be to do with the fact that we ventured into Columbo having still not quite recovered from the staff trip. It was so crazy, I can't imagine what Delhi must be like. In some places you couldn't walk faster than snail's pace because there were so many people and tuk tuk's crowding the street. There was plastic flower street, wedding card street, rubber street, vegetable street, fruit street, anything that can be compartmentalised into a section had its own street. A native Sri Lankan took it upon himself to guide us through the maze that is Columbo, however after a while we realised that the unspoken of payment he would be expecting would be mounting, so we bluntly told him we had had enough. After a public debate, we settled on a price and set about finding our way around. It was exhausting. There was so much to take in, it was like being on the tube at rush hour in London only with more smells and yells and beeping tuk tuks. It took us a while to orientate ourselves but we eventually made it to the YMCA which is described as the cheapest, dingyiest place to stay in Columbo. It was actually quite nice with good pillows and a western toilet, even if it was the most disgusting western toilet I've ever seen. It was better than the traditional Sri Lankan outdoor hole in the ground. After 'getting ready' aka washing under cold water with no soap and putting on our now damaged by the heat mascara, we set off for a night out in Columbo. This is harder than it sounds. We boarded the bus to cinnamon garden's looking like tourists- not a wise move- as a tuk tuk driver ushered us off the bus and told us the bus did not go to cinnamon gardens. Tom eventually told him he was a liar and we all shuffled back on the bus after deciding that he was trying to take advantage of our tourist naivety. Sadly, the tuk tuk driver was not lying and we ended up back in a tuk tuk, and got a full tour of Columbo as we collectively all tried to find cinnamon gardens. The communication barrier was really quite an issue as we tried to tell him to go left and he completely ignored us, preferring to stop at random hotels and ask the guards who also clearly had no clue. He took us to every place beginning with 'cinamon' apart from cinnamon gardens. We eventually got out and walked. A good while later and we have found a bar. The Sri lankan night life is not the wildest of nights, but nevertheless we entertained ourselves with Jamie putting on my harems and I his shorts as boys were not allowed into clubs with shorts on.
Plan's to explore some more of Columbo the next day dissolved as we all felt too tired from the previous night's exploits to throw ourselves back into the sweaty crowds. It took us about 2 hours to find the station where a bus would stop to take us the long journey home. We ended up in a tuk tuk again, with the police stopping us and fining the driver for having 4 of us in one tuk tuk when really there should only be 2. Again, Sri Lankan logic baffles me as he paid the fine and then drove of with all four of us still in the back, the policmen smiling. We found our bus as the tuk tuk driver starting yelling and pointing, obviously meaning for us to jump out and get on the bus in front. We shoved some money in his hand, grabbed our rucksacks and ran after the moving bus at a speed not natural considering how delicate we were all feeling.
The week after was exhausting and made even more so by two events. One was of feeling particularly ill and having to power through netball activities on an English activities day. Thank God for Coke. It is a true godsend for a stomach bug (who would have known). The second event which was terribly exhausting was finding a stray puppy dog at school which I decided to take home and keep. His name was Oolohal- named after my favourite Sri Lankan herb-and I fell in love with that puppy. Haley and I fed him and cuddled him till he stopped shaking and he brightened up our house. The principle then says that it's not allowed and I have to take him back. That sad night was also made worse as our neighbours decided to carry out a ritual at god knows what hour in the morning which involved drum playing and what sounded like gun shots. I thought we were under attack from a Tamil rebel army as I yelled at Haley to wake up. I soon realised my mistake as she told me that it's a ritual which is meant to rid an ill person of disease in a household. I have a lot of time for Sri Lankan beliefs and traditions, but when I've got a scared puppy outside and have 2 hours more in bed, it really didn't add to my already low morale. Feeling thoroughly depressed the next morning, I gathered Oolohal in my arms and took him on the journey back to school. All day Oolohal hobbled about the school grounds and after my lessons had finished he trotted over to the English room, where he would fall asleep in my lap. More complaints from another principle meant that Jamie and I missed the next lesson to take him to the dog clinic for stray dogs. I was a little apprehensive as I didn't want them to put him down, but Sri Lanka has a massive stray dog problem with over 60 000 stray dogs and I didn't want little Oolohal being one of them, therefore the clinic it was.
Excitement was not over yet though. On the journey back, a line of about 5 stray dogs blocked mine and Jamie's path growling. We didn't have the umbrella as we usually did to shoo them away so Jamie growled back. This caused another handful to come running out. We stood rooted for a good 5 minutes wondering what to do. Decision made, we walked on forward gripping each other with Jamie going 'ohmygodohmygodohmygod'. I was only hoping that if one bit me one of the locals would come and get it off. Despite what seemed to us like the odds, we made it past unharmed, just a bit sweaty and drained.
That afternoon, feeling empty without Oolohal, exhausted from the stray dog episode and generally feeling sick, I slept all afternoon. Haley joined in the marathon sleep and we woke up feeling worse, so it's off to our expensive hospital appointment on Monday to get it sorted. Four more weeks until we go travelling and I can't wait!!!
Lots of love to friends and family xxxxx