Me and my Coconut foot. By Sara.
As I lie here in my four poster, mosquito net covered, bed with my foot swollen to the size of a large king coconut I think to myself, is it all worth it?.... Hell yea!! And let me tell you why!
Where do I start?... With the Elephant that became my meditation buddy? The massive Green turtles that became my beach buddy's or the crazy bus ride where I thought it might just be the end for me? I'll start from the beginning.
As we tuk tuked our way into the madness of Colombo City I thought, this is it, this is my new life, what on earth have I got myself into. It was a fabulous mixture of excitement, that I was in this crazy new country that was like taking a step back in time, and fear that I was going to die in this tuk tuk in a terrible road crash!! It was exhilarating! We hooted like crazy, darting in and out of all the traffic. The traffic seems to move in a mad way but some how it works and the accident statistics are surprisingly low compared to the UK. As my tuk tuk experiences have grown over my time here, I have in turn grown a love for them. They are easy, quick and very very cheap! Like 50p cheap! And the drivers are all so welcoming and chatty. They are a million miles away from our London black cabs and I'd choose a tuk tuk over a black cab any day.
While we are on the subject of traffic, I will quickly talk a bit about crossing the roads, oh my goodness! So, what you have to do is just go and the traffic either stops for you or toots around you. It's fabulous! (It's the same for when the stray dogs cross the road, which was fun to watch!)
Moving on, we happened to stumble across a Buddhist temple in the first day, it looked spectacular so we paid our £1 entry fee, removed our shoes (as you do here) and headed in to explore. For me (not Jon) this was a very spiritual place, I felt peace and happiness there, like I was meant to visit. It had a very calming effect on me and if Jon wasn't 'dragging his feet' I would have loved to have done an hour or so meditation there. So we were wondering through the main court yard and all of a sudden what rocks up behind me? An elephant dressed in a blue silk jacket with about a dozen men dancing behind, all dressed in wonderful silver jewellery! (This was due to it soon being the Sri Lankan New Year). What an amazing experience! And on the first day of our trip, what a way to start off our travels! I looked at the time when this was happening and thought what I would be doing if I were home, this made the experience all the better when I realised I'd be at work dealing with the ridiculous Israeli 'out of date' year end spreadsheets! Poor Amanda! My friend who is stuck there wading through them!
A little bit more about Colombo before I move onto Rekawa - lovely friendly people, great food, pleasant hostel and what I call 'love island', this is a small man made island in the middle of one of the lakes. I call it love island because everyone that is on the island is a young couple in love, hugging each other, they just sit there for hours hugging! Loads of them. Such a happy place! Although Jon and I thought this was crazy - hugging in that heat! No way!
And then, on to Rekawa. It took us 7 hours via one crazy train, one crazy bus and one no so crazy (after that bus ride) tuk tuk. The train station was basic but easy to navigate, we purchased our £1 tickets and waited. Everyone chats to you while you wait, it's nice. (We think it is so that they can practice their English). Our train came and there was a mad rush, it was hot and packed! I was sweating buckets and trying to find a spot to stand which was under a fan. Found one, phew! And got myself together. I stood there watching out the window as the train passed the stunning coast line (and shanti towns) and thought, actually the London Underground is way worse than this!! No air con, more packed and no stunning view! 2 hours into our 4 hour journey a very kind gentleman offered me his seat which was welcomed greatly! So I sat there and munched on fruit that was being sold by men with baskets going up and down the train (the apple with chilli sprinkles was interesting). I thought to myself, it's lovely to be on a train and not want to go straight onto my iPad and watch a movie. It was another great experience.
When we arrived at Matara and had to find a bus that would take us to Tangalle, this was a nightmare as the drivers didn't understand us. Finally we got on one which we were 'pretty sure' was going in the right direction. It was so packed that the driver put me and my rucksack on the engine beside him!! (Jon was stuck in the middle of all the men). So there was me sitting on the engine with a million Sri Lankans staring at this crazy white lady on the engine! I just smiled a lot and said hi to them all. Being on the front engine gave me the best view on the scariest ride of my life! Oh my god! This bus driver was mad! (And I'm sure I saw him take a swig out of the bottle of rum beside the wheel!!) He was rushing in and out of people, bikes, cars, trucks, animals and tuks! It didn't matter to him that we were on the wrong side of the road most of the time and other buses were heading right towards us!! But some how we got thought it unscathed! Some how!!!!! (The driver and the ticket collector were laughing at me because I kept putting my head in my hands and shrieking!)
Once we made it to Tangalle we got a very pleasant tuk tuk ride to the Turtle Sanctuary where we are volunteering for 6 days.
While we volunteer at the turtle Sanctuary we are staying at 'Mumma Daisy's Homestay' which is very very basic (so basic I have bought the large fan into the four poster mosquito covered bed!) but wonderful. Mumma Daisy is a very lovely old Sri Lankan woman, who prepares us a feast of the most wonderful Sri Lankan food 3 times a day and then at 8pm we head to the beach for the turtle watches. So far we have got up close to 4 massive Green Turtles, one of which was laying eggs!! It was the most amazing experience!
On Monday at 10.17am (weird time!) it will be the Sri Lankan New Year. We have been invited to some of the locals houses to join in with the celebrations which I am very looking forward to. We are also preparing a festival for the kids with turtle games to get them to understand the importance of the protection of the turtles. The kids are very sweet and a pleasure to be around.
After we leave the Turtle Sanctuary we will be heading to Ella and Kandy before our flight to Beijing.
And now finally we are at day two at the sanctuary and we are off to the pharmacy for infection cream and antibiotics (and beer!), I think the blister on the back of my foot has got infected. I'm hoping it will be ok and my foot won't drop off! Fingers crossed!!
- Side note - I shared my outdoor shower with a frog this morning.