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No rest for the wicked!

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No rest for the wicked! I think I have been wicked, but it is good. We had a super few days in Kandy. I worked on Tues. then attended a going away get together for a couple of Rose staff. All the staff received gifts of shirts, saris , etc. then left for a 3 day holiday to celebrate the New Year. I was given a new long skirt, blouse and tshirt. Each day I wear a skirt (below my kneecap) and a blouse that covers my shoulders. Kalmunai is very traditional and you never see a lady in pants, shorts, ect. so as respect to their culture I am dressing the same. (only not in a sari) Also you never see women on the streets once it gets dark (around 6 or shortly after) We are so looked after that someone is with us if it is after dark. By then we are ready to head home and do homework or relax and hit the sack early because we get up early.

Anyway I digress! After the party (by 5) we got in Rose’s van and were driven up country to the interior of Sri Lanka to a city called Kandy. The driver is excellent the way he maneuvers around switchbacks, narrow roads, other vehicles and the odd cow sleeping on the highway. It was a 5 hour drive but I did not see too much due to darkness. We arrived at Amanda’s great aunt’s house and were welcomed and fed. Yogam, John and granddaughter Sarah live a few km outside of Kandy in a more rural area. Across the road from their house is the forest, filled with birds and tropical plants. The next day we piled into a trishaw and went the 20 min. into town. John and I visited the famous Buddist Temple (pictures to follow soon) Amandas skirt was the same length as mine but she was not allowed to enter probably because they thought she was a local and should have a long skirt. We removed our shoes (they keep them for a fee) and entered the most beautiful, old temple. After that we did a bit of shopping and I got myself some gifts and keepsakes. That afternoon I spent a few hours alone wandering down paths in the rural area. It was really my first alone time since leavng home and was much needed and appreciated. The weather there is cooler due to elevation so it was perfect! Any time I passed a yard with someone in it they would wave and often come and ask where I was from. A New Year’s tradition is to take baking to homes as gifts so I saw many people walking with containers of sweets to deliver to neighbors. Yogam is not Buddist but her neighbors still brought sweets to her just as she brings baking to them at Christmas. The homes I passes varied from larger, cement homes to mud made wall homes with sheet metal roofs or even thatched roofs. The yards are all swept clear and some had flowers planted around.

The next day Sarah, Amanda and I went to the botanical gardens on the outskirts of Kandy. Sarah is Sri Lankan and they presumed Amanda was so they were charged 50 slr’s while because I am a foreigner I was charged 1090 slr’s. Oh the injustice of folks thinking I am American! We crossed a suspension bridge and on the middle looked up to see a monkey hanging just over my head on a cable. there were monkeys all around the grounds which were cute to watch but there were also trees filled with huge bats hanging. The orchid house was so beautiful, I did not know there were so many varieties. A couple hours of walking through the gardens then on to Kandy’s manmade lake in the middle of the city. Because it was New Years many folks were lighting firecrackers so the air was filled with the loud bangs which in course frightened the bats. Huge bats were flying and fluttering upside down in trees all along the lake shore. We also saw fish coming to the surface to be fed like we feed our ducks at home, a huge lizard sunning himself and many species of birds. When we realized the banging was now thunder we flagged a trishaw and got inside just as the skies opened and a hard rain fell. The rest of my day was spent curled up reading; a long awaited activity!

Our trip back home was an experience. Downtown Kandy has an area filled with people and busses coming and going. We found one that said Ampara on the side so rushed to get seats. I sat near the front (so’s not to get carsick) where I could stretch my legs down into the step leading up from the bus door. Wrong!. As the bus made it’s way to Ampara it continued picking people up from roadsides and villages we passes. Question of the day is “How many Sri Lankans can you fit in a bus?” Because I was sitting and near the door throughout the trip I held babies, toddlers, packages and even women’s purses! As for my feet stretching out….the stairs held at least 6 people hanging onto the doorway and sides of the bus because there was no more standing room inside! 6 hours later we arrived in Ampara where Kumar met us with the van. It was an experience but also soooo beautiful. the hill country has tea estates terraced into hillsides, they really are mountains but not like out Rockies because they are lush and green. The heights and valleys were absolutely stunning! The road was narrow, often under construction and made up of many switchbacks so the going was slow. After the van picked us up we went to a village where classes were taking place. I was asked to teach an improptu english class to 15 and 16 year olds. There I was hot, tired and all sweaty teaching off the cuff! The cold shower once we reached home was more than welcoming but our room was not. We’d left a pkg. of crackers on our table and they had obviously been nibbled on and bits of the foil and paper were on my bed under my mosquito netting! Our bedroom is a cement room and the door was closed and locked, the windows also closed and locked so thus the mystery ! We really do not want to know the answer!

I taught today from 7 until 4 with 2 half hour breaks so am not going to last long tonight. It was so hot!

More news to follow and hopefully some pictures to post.

Hi mom, you are getting the same group blog/email but I will phone again soon.
Love you……..Sonia

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