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Published: December 3rd 2016
The astrologer in Rishikesh told me I should hang out with and feed dogs, so I ran with it and accepted an opportunity to go to Sri Lanka with an almost stranger to volunteer at an animal shelter for a week.
Plans had changed once again (I'm starting to get used to this) and Orion and I have been split up for a few weeks while he is in Nepal. I joined a German Buddhist (who has doubled as my bodyguard) to Midigama in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka. It was definitely the most spontaneous plans I've ever made (aside from jumping in the car for a random weekend camping trip), as Orion gave me notice of his new plans and then 24 hours later I was buying my new flight. Another 48 hours and I was en route by myself to a country I'd never researched but that I know Hanuman picked up and moved for Ram in one of those Hindu stories I love so much. Oh, and I knew there would be dogs.
Arriving in Sri Lanka was perfect. A local was on myy flight and helped me get a SIM card and escorted me
all the way to my German. We took the train from Colombo Fort to Weligama sitting in the doorway watching the beach fly by as there weren't any free seats. Amazing how a shift in perspective made the journey a gift rather than an inconvenience.
Midigama is a lazy surf town for tourists. We found a cheap spot at a tiny house for 1500 rupees and discovered that the beaches were essentially private. After a day of adjusting to the leisurely lifestyle ahead, we headed to SOS Animal Rescue to work with street dogs. The shelter houses 1000 dogs and 30 cats that have been rescued from abuse and illness in Sri Lanka. Walking in for the first time is a bit nerve racking as 500 dogs bark and try to figure you out, but it quickly becomes the norm. Flo and I spent the day playing with puppies, carrying disabled dogs out to enjoy the grass, washing dogs, and general socialising...with dogs. Later in the week we got to take the disabled dogs out in wheelchairs and to help with their therapeutic massages. The best part was hydro therapy: bringing them in the ocean to exercise their functional
front legs and run in the sand. Such Joy! If you ever have the chance to work with dogs, know that it can be some of the best therapy ever.
After a week of hard work volunteering, I ended up with sunstroke (which Google convinced me was dengue) and was out for 4 days with a fever, headache and chills. There's no better place to be on bed rest than where I can hear the waves and read/write all day. I slowly recovered and read Jack Kerouac's On The Road, too.
The first time I felt homesick on my trip was Thanksgiving, but I was lucky enough to have my 2 new german friends to celebrate it with me. We ate rice and curry buffet at Mama's and a Canadian wished me happy thanksgiving. Pretty close?
Sri Lanka has been an amazing experience, a necessary reset and an opportunity to rediscover JOY. It's shown my what solo travel could be like and gave Orion and I much needed personal space. I met amazing new people (mostly German), as well as a lot of dogs.
I've got a couple more days before I ship off to Thailand.
I'm spending my birthday solo, which I never imagined I'd do, but it was sorta my decision and I'm looking forward to what the Universe throws me.
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