Sri Lanka Week 4

Published: July 14th 2011
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Monday started off as all the other Mondays with tank cleaning and general other duties. After we had cleaned most of the tanks we decided to watch the walkers going by as they were walking to Jaffna in the north to raise money for a new children’s cancer ward. We then decided to go for our usual after tank cleaning paddle/swim. Stan got into the water even though he couldn’t swim and a large wave knocked his glasses off so he couldn’t see either! I decided to swim back to see if his glasses had washed up on the shore, the current was very strong swimming back and took a lot of effort to swim against it as I got back onto the beach I said to Lucy that we should get the others to swim back in as I had found it really tough. As we called to the others to come back we realized that they couldn’t actually swim back and Stan was struggling as they were out of their depth and he couldn’t swim. We then had a large rescue effort which involved a lot of Sri Lankan men grabbing ropes and trying to reach the others. Everyone managed to make it back onto the beach alive but 3 people had to go to hospital and Phil was in a critical condition. The local hospital were excellent and managed to revive everyone and have them fighting fit again in little over 24 hours with very little lasting damage. I spent Monday and Tuesday in the Hospital and had to get up at 5am on Tuesday morning to cook them breakfast as the hospital does not provide food. Although it was a stressful and tiring couple of days everyone is alright now but we probably won’t be swimming in the sea anytime soon.

On Tuesday afternoon I taught my usual class which went well other than the children being distracted numerous times as a monkey kept trying to climb through the classroom window!

On Wednesday we stayed at the turtle centre and unfortunately dug up a lot of rotten eggs which was unpleasant. In the afternoon we went to the temple to teach even though we had been told the week before that it would be the last week! On Wednesday evening we walked to a nearby beach to watch female turtles laying eggs however none turned up.

Thursday was a casual day, we tank cleaned and beach cleaned and in the afternoon I gave quite a lot of tours to a number of different tourists. We released turtles on the evening and none were eaten by birds. Dinner was great and consisted of roti, potato curry and a salad with a tasty lemon dressing. We went to the beach again and this time we were lucky and saw three turtles including one that layed eggs. It was great to see and happened quite quickly after we arrived at the beach so we didn’t have to wait around.

We left at 11 am on Friday and caught the train from Alutgama. It was quite busy but we thought it would empty when we got to Colombo. Unfortunately we were very wrong. It turned out that we had chosen to go to Anuradaphura the day before a festival that happens only once a year that roughly 2 million people attend. We were on the train for 8 hours and had to stand the whole way. Phil and I were next to the toilets as well so it absolutely stank. We saw some strange things including a man who swallowed swords on the train. By the time we got to Anuradhapura we were definitely ready for a good shower and something to eat.

We got up on Saturday ready to join the 2 million other people celebrating at Anuradaphura. We were taken around all the ruins which were interesting but at points rammed. At the main site the amount of people was crazy and we were literally crushed into a crowd. A lot of people were camped out on the surrounding gardens as well. We decided to get the train back on Saturday afternoon so that we would avoid everyone leaving the next day. Unfortunately we were unlucky with the train again as it broke down about 45minutes from Colombo. We had to move onto another train which was really full to the point where Phil was actually hanging out of the train and all we could see was his arms. We got to Colombo and got the bus home and eventually arrived in Kosgoda at about 11pm.

Sunday was a lazy day and we spent most of the day chilling at the volunteer house. We took the bus in the afternoon to the local high street to buy some fruit and then spent the rest of the afternoon sunbathing on the beach.

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