Monday, June 25, 2012

This blog I'm unsure how to start, or where to start. As my mind races 344543 miles a second I can say this blog will be a free flow, tad random, so keep up.

First week....

We quickly adapted to our schedules, and the daily routine. We wake up at 6:30am, eat breakfast which consists of bread, ground coconut with hot spices added, a fried egg, and some potato sort of yellow curry. Needless to say it has already got old. My taste buds yearn for some of momma's french toast.  After breakfast we get in our tuk-tuk which is a three wheel automobile that’s all open and has no seat belts, it’s a real joy ride wherever we go. 

This past week we were dropped off at "Sethma" a Private Sri Lankan hospital, the staff loves us and has no idea what we are saying so we just all smile at each other. In Sri Lanka there are private hospitals and government hospitals. Governments are huge chaotic buildings that cater to the vast majority of Sri Lanka population, these hospitals are completely free of charge. The Private hospitals are much smaller, cost money(5dollars in US dollars) which is quite a lot for them, so private hospitals cater to the “rich” population of Sri Lanka. Jen and I are amazed daily how things are ran in the hospitals, often we just want to throw up a red flag and scream what the HELLLLLL are you people doing. I am no doctor, but I do know when a child comes in with a burn blister on his finger you are NOT to pop the blister with your unsterile scissors and remove the blistered skin, or when you enter a surgery room to take off your shoes for my athletes foot is more sanitary. The list goes one, the hospital isn’t air conditioned, flies have invaded, mold grows up the walls, a “clean” working surface for lets say someone getting stitches for a toe is “newspaper”. The custodians clean barefoot, and use a mop that oh I’d say is 28 years old. I hate to complain for I simply just wish I could give, and teach the proper way of sanitation, but unfortunately I cant. The technology here is approximately 50 years behind us, no exaggeration, it is pitiful. Oh this ones big….Gloves aren’t worn within the medical field, fantastic huh?

Jen and I begged for more, we realized this was bad, but we wanted to see what that government hospital was all about, Nerangela shook her head in fear for us when we asked to go to a larger hospital. But agreed so Wednesday we ventured to the local Government hospital.


Got out of our tuk-tuk and stepped into a building about 7 levels tall spreading across acres of land. We walked in and were hit with shock. Within moments of arrival I had witnessed body parts dangling, leprosy, mumps, hyperthyroidism or an enlarged thyroid the size of a two baseballs, the list goes on. Our eyes were wide-open, honestly couldn’t believe my eyes, and wanted more. These images made me understand why I was here, I wanted this experience, I didn’t want to see the "ordinary". I was hooked. Sadly there is a process that is quite lengthy to get clearing to work in the Government hospitals that could take up to three weeks, so we don't have the allowed time to make this happen(another excuse to come back I suppose) Its scary as hell, but this is what I want, and where we ideally would have liked to spend our time.

SO , we finished out our first week at the private hospital, saw lots of thing, just not much work we could actually do, since language was a huge barrier. BUT its okay, mom will be happy on this one, for this current week we will be teaching English in the local grade school. (ages 6-16)We visited last friday to get a taste......and fell in love. At first sight we were swamped  with questions and gazing eyes. "Tech where from?" "Miss what name?" "Miss how old?" "Techaa, you botiful" They were precious and I instantly made myself at home and we began to chat in English. Friday, the Grade 11(age 16) teacher was absent, so they begged us to entertain for a few hours. We easily agreed, and began a lesson that was prepared in about 4 minutes:) They didn't care, neither did we. I accidentally pulled out my camera to take one quick snap, and needless to say they all turned into models and photographers. Didn't think a camera would be such a luxury item. So here below is what we did for English class.... oops! 

We ended up spending 4 hours or so, sampling each grade, the teachers loved not having to teach English, go figure, they have to learn too. The school house was a warehouse that was divided my metal fencing for the separation of the different grades. These kids begged to learn, and ate up every second of our attention. This one small girl asked me where I was from, I said America and smiled. She smiled, grabbed my hand, and said America? America has beautiful teachers. So happy you came to tech me, I love English. I said thank you in Sinhalese, she giggled for I'm sure I pronounced it wrong. I continued my lesson, I noticed she didnt take her eye off me, continued to question, repeated everything, she showed me the meaning of determination at its finest, I couldn't have been more flattered. SO this current week we start our next assignment, Teaching! For the girl that couldn't survive without Spell Check, and claims English to be her worst subject, this one will be for the books!

Home in Ja-Ela, is pleasant~okay hot, sticky, muggy, stormy, humid, bug infested BUT great, well as great as a 3rd world country can be. This past week has taught me a lot. I will NEVER complain of being hot, being dirty, or not having enough money. Life here has showed me a strand of life that makes me known how good life is even if Mom says “Honey we are tight on money” we are not tight,we are comfy, we own a mansion, 2 cars, 2 dogs, all healthy, and food is always on the table , we are rich in my eyes. Here in Ja-Ela we have cold water that is it, we shower 3cm from our toilet, you put your toilet paper in a sac next to you, you don’t dare flush it. After you shower you squeegee the remaining water towards the drain and hope is drains. You go barefoot everywhere if you wish,but make sure those knees and shoulders are covered. If you wear white or light colored clothing expect it to be black due to pollution. I have never heard so much honking in my life.There isn’t such thing as ice cubes unless you are wealthy, you have metal fans as your air condition. All houses are completely open with basically just a roof, minus some bedrooms (bug spray is key)if you’re lucky you might have a wall or two hey maybe a door.  Although lots of natives live in shacks... yes shacks, made of leaves, brush, and palms. 

We eat a lot, lots of bread, all in which is homemade, lots of curry, lots of rice, lots of spice. I feel like a kid when I eat and am learning the technique, for silverware is luxury….we eat with our hands, quite the sight. I’ve learned that my four fingers can be transformed into a tiny scoop for my mouth, and my thumb is the shovel. If you can picture it, you scoop up with your fingers and shovel it in your mouth with the thumb. Hand cramp to say the least.

....I've made a list of some of the most bizarre customs....
-when you hear the song Here Comes Santa Clause, its just the bread man trucking around delivering fresh baked goods.
-number one death row scenario is being caught with any sort of drug(marijuana mostly) 
-when you go to dinner at someone else’s home you MUST bring a gift or a baked good, but you wont necessarily eat it.
- drunk driving is okay
-no speed limits
-police can shoot you at any given moment
-if offered Hot tea, it is rude to say no thank you(these people dont care if you are dripping with sweat, you will drink hot tea)
 -If you are sweating a noticeable amount before dinner is served you will be given a bath towel and asked to shower.
-When a Sri Lankan understands, or is agreeing to something they do this bobble head thing. Hard not to laugh, but just imagine, million of bobble heads surrounding you when you are having a conversation. Classic.
-The american way of motioning "come here" with one hand is reverse here, the motion of "shooing away" means 'to come' in Sri Lanka. Confusing. No wonder the kids didn't come to me when I attempted to motion them my way, for all I know I was swatting a fly. 
-Mosquitos have bitten every square inch of my flesh, (they like "deet" i suppose)
-when guys "hit" on us it is not a whistle, you are CLAPPED at or called like a cat!
-Jen was given a ring buy our Tuk-tuk driver, found out it was a wedding ring(she might not be returning with me haha!)

Some of the girls we house with are here for law, so they have introduced us to the wealthiest of the country aka the lawyers of Sri Lanka. This week we had dinner at two different lawyers homes. One Mr. Godfree Curry. The richest man here by far, he has 4 children all either doctors or lawyers that all live or went to school in the UK, which says a lot,if you have the money as a Sri Lankan to send your children to the UK you are well off. We went for dinner Tuesday, arrived at 5pm, chatted for a long time, meet the children, SPOKE ENGLISH, and after 6 gin and cokes I was leaning sideways and finally served dinner at 11pm, thank goodness using your hands was required for I probably couldn’t have held my fork or spoon. These dinners shall be interesting if they insist for us young-ins to drink drink drink before we eat. Ugh. What a night.
Thursday we did the same thing just at a the "younger" lawyers home, not as nice of a place, but way better then our shack so we took it! We played cricket, kind of like baseball, then drank, played with their 1 year old son, and finally at 11pm ateJ

Our frist weekend in Sri Lanka was well...interesting, sketch, scary, and one of the funniest social event this girl has seen. Friday we went to Colombo(about and hour from Ja-Ela) with Mr.Curry's children, we found ourselves enjoying the most high class club scene of Sri Lanka. These clubs were swarming with the attractive "upper class" of the island, Jen and I were in heaven, and had lots of eye candy for the night. 
Just me in our hotel in Nogombo,
 under the mosquito net,
living in luxury ya"ll! 
Saturday we went our on our own, in Nogombo(about 45min from Ja-Ela) this was were the description "sketch" came in play. We were at a tourist bar, entertained with american music and the average Sri Lanka crowd, with a hand full of Canadian folk, we had a splendid time, and were careful with our every move for this time we weren't protected by Mr. Curry's kids. The night grew near and finally we decided to head back to our hotel(cost 17US dollars for the night) the journey there..."Sketch" was only a 2 mile Tuk-Tuk to the hotel but we were bombarded with "How much?" "What's your room number?" "Sexy" "Want a lift, I'll pay you for the ride" and CLAPPING the list goes on. I was freaked out, after slapping the hell out of a few daring individuals we made it to our hotel. bolted the door and called it a night! 
The night life is great, just different. And for white girls is ultimately unsafe. You must watch your every move, and say no to everything that is offered to you. And never leave your friends. It's interesting to me, how this nasty night life culture is alive, but it is and I have experienced a taste of the Prostitute life....and sorry mom and dad, but it isn't for me!


A little

taste of


on the 
other side

of the 


I am the dirtiest I have ever been in my 20 years of life. Jen and I are actually not using shampoo but once a week. So my hair is growing like a weed, or least we'd like to thing so, them natural oils are great conditioner. My skin is soft, mostly because its moisturized with sweat constantly, my legs have never been as hairy as they are today, YET I smile, so large, larger then ever before. I smile because I am so very blessed with America the country of the free the country with running water and air condition. I smile because I have never thought such a poor country can still be so satisfied with life. I smile in hope that I can touch one heart, one soul, give one hand to truly make a difference. I smile because this trip reassures exactly what I want out of my life, clarifies that this isn’t the last 3rd world experience I will be taking. I smile for 3 more weeks of Sri Lanka, a beautiful country of millions of stray dogs, cows, monkeys, snakes, chipmunks, tropical fruit, and by far the most pleasant people on Earth that understand the meaning of happiness in life!

Till next week…xo from the other side 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Our journey has begun, and we departed LAX around noon, Thursday the 14th, traveled to Shanghai, China for a glorious 15 hours or so. Once entering the international terminal we were simply just the minority. Maybe 3 other Caucasian folk at our gate, Jen and I were two of them so you get my drift. We entered the plane to find that there are close to 500 seats AND Jen and I are 30 rows apart from one another.

Mission one, we sweet talked our ways to sit next to each other, hand gestures did wonders, I gave up my window seat to be next to Jen-Jen in isle 67G both of us are in the middle of a 4 person row. As soon as I sat down I realized planes were not meant for 5’10 girls and quickly noticed that half the passenger’s feet dangled including Jen. This would be interesting.

 Mission two, we napped right off the bat, we twisted ourselves in a comfy position, I told Jen, “If I snore you wake me, AND if you smell food and my behind isn’t awake to wake me as well” she agreed and our snooze began. Hours later I was waken with a lil pat, then immediately  asked if I wanted “poor and rye” or if I wanted “fi and nootle” I went with “poor and rye” and after pulling back the foil I found some PORK AND RICE mmm. Now I was raised to clean my plate and if you cant do that to at least try everything in front of you. I am not picky, nor have I ever had any issues with pork and rice. WELL ladies and gentlemen was I in for it. I wont go into detail mostly because I will gag, but the pork was a jello flub substance that had a distinct plastic smell if you will and quite frankly tasted as it smelt. The rice looked like rice tasted like hmm plastic. I slowly ate, looked around most people were scarfing and I nibbled a little more then had to stop, ate the dessert which was angel food cake extra dry with grape chunk jelly on top HEY it was delicious. Beverage choices were “yapple, orge, tomato, why, and bur.” I chose yapple, seemed like it would be apple and I stuck with it. 

 Mission three, watched “whip it” great movie, and I suppose we didn’t need to use headphones to watch our movie because no one else did…then we napped more same rules applied, if I snored or if food was being served wake a sister up. So time passed I was nudged again and was greeted with a silver hockey puck tossed my way. Opened it, and it was breakfast, some sort of breakfast egg sandwich, made McDonalds look like fine cuisine, but was familiar so we scarfed and even split a second helping.

 Mission four, nap, same rules, time passed, and it was dinner or hell lunch we didn’t know just time to eat again. I was stoked ready for what was next. Flight attendant smiled and said, “fi and nootle” or “poor and rye” yet again! I shook my head Jen laughing and I said you know this time I’ll choose “Fi and nootle” but don’t you worry it gets better. Fish and noodles was what it seemed to be…heavens, plastic smell/taste, ate my dessert and called it a day.

Mission five, we were landing in two hours, cake. Took one last snooze and we had finally landed our 15 hour first leg flight! Exiting the flight we entered Shanghai airport, and let me just say, Jen and I looked at each other and just started to laugh, we had just entered into a world were we are foreigners and smiling is about all we can do! We rushed with the pace of life and managed to figure out where the hell we were suppose to be and what lines to go in and what to say and what not to say, and finally with 3 hours to spare we got us some juice(with loads of pulp) and relaxed. Jen crashed on the floor next to me as I insisted on blogging.

Leg 2! Shanghai to Kunming, China, duration 4 hours, easy!

We slept the entire way and shortly past midnight we had arrived in Kunming, China. We entered the airport, and we had again entered the speedy pace of life, shoved from every angle, and was wanting to cover my face with a sac due to the pollution that hit us with full force. We grabbed a cart jammed our way through the thick crowds, found our luggage, and meet Walter, our Asian friend that knew 100 words of English so we thought he would be a keeper. Since we arrived so late we couldn’t change our US dollars to Yuan, so Walter kindly exchanged our money with his own, he then told us that the airport was soon closing and we must go to a hotel. After a 2 hour long process, a taxi ride from hell, and abduction that crossed our mind many times we had finally landed our tails in a 4 star hotel….4 star hotels come with a firm rock hard bed, cockroaches, and a lovely dumpster aroma. We honestly felt unsafe and remained curled next to each other and attempted to get some rest, we kept the lights onJ 8am Saturday woke up, gathered our stuff, and mobbed out, traveled down 8 levels and were in complete shock of the view from our hotel. YUCK. We entered the lobby, joining 50 other people, we of course were starred at like none other, it turned into a game, “the stare down”, we proceeded to check out and flag down a taxi. The streets were busy, lots of honking, people scrambling around; we were in awe of how the people transport goods/each other. Imagine a scooter, with 4 people on it, or a bag of 20 dead chickens, or ten 20lbs bags of rice, or children holding onto infants, no helmets, no speed limits, and no stopping. INSANE. Back at Kunming airport we arrived around 10am…our flight to Sri Lanka doesn’t leave till 4:30pm, we didn’t mind, for we finally had a chance to sit and grab a bit to eat.noodles. yum!

Last leg, Kunming to Colombo, Sri Lanka! 5 hours!

This being the most exciting flight for obvious reasons, we slept, ate, and as soon as our plane began to descend our eyes were glued to the window. What we saw seemed to be a massive island, least much larger then we thought. It was tropical, looked like a rainforest waiting to welcome us. From above all we could see were shacks intertwined within the forest, some roads, but nothing big, life from our view seemed pleasant, gorgeous, and exciting.

Exiting the plane, we were greeted by a wall of humidity that instantly made us want to shed our clothing. We proceeded to a bus that then took us to the airport building its self. Passing security guard after security guard, each holding a machine gun, we bit our tongues. It was 6:40pm on Saturday, the airport was empty, and welcoming with the largest smiles I have ever seen. We were quickly guided in the direction to get our bags, customs, and changing our US dollars to rupees. Needless to say we felt wealthy with our wad of rupees. 

We then began to look for a sign that was addressed “Travellers worldwide” that sign was never found, and we promptly were in the arms of Nerangela, our new mom! Jen and I finally felt relief, no more traveling, no more rush, no more tension. Nerangela started asking us about America, she then said to us, “this is Sri Lanka, my home, I have lived here my entire life, we are so free here. Its beautiful, and we are happy to have you.” My heart had melted, Nerangela was approx. 45-50 years of age, not married, but boy she was a beautiful looking women. The look in Sri Lanka was a darker Indian appearance, English was understood slightly, and EVERYONE was happy, not a soul not smiling, religion predominately Buddhism, and life was happy. I was hooked. We jumped into our van with our assigned driver by the name of Neesh, he then had us on our way. The diver sat on the opposite side, and drove on the opposite side of the road. Kim another volunteer was waiting for us in our van, she’s from Virginia,USA so basically we became best friends! On the trip to our new home we stopped at the market for we had to get “drink” to celebrate, Jen and I were sold on that idea! Then we stopped suddenly after Jen made a comment that she was hungry, Nerangela  jumped out of our moving van and grabbed three snack bags of “chick-peas” for Kim, Jen, and myself to snack on. About ten minutes later we turned off the busy, honking, dirt of a main road…onto well another dirt road that we soon found was the road of our neighborhood. Through a sewage alley, bump after bump, stray dog after dog, we stopped in front of a huge gate. Nerangela opened the gate and then we were presented with HOME for the next month!

At the house were 4 other volunteers from across the world(England, USA, Scottland, Canada,etc ) And in addition, Tootie the cat, Humpy the one eared dog, and Kaloo the two eared dogJThis was our family, and it felt nothing more then just that. Dinner was served before we could even unpack our bags. Consisted of noodles, tomato sauce, some cheese bread, and nectar juice. We scarfed and our stomachs couldn’t have been happier. After dinner we brought out the “drink”, and celebrated our arrival, and began to get to know our new family. The night vanished quickly and soon Jen an I made our way to our lil hole of a room. Tile floors, two twin beds, a fan above, and a bathroom connecting, we were set.  We slept damn near in the nude, the humidity forced us! We were lulled to bed with the chanting of some Buddhism chant. I didn’t mind, and Nerangela made it seem so nonchalant, that I was able to crash, and sleep well. Thankfully.

Nerangela proclaims that Sundays are fun days, we go shop, we go to water park, or play with elephants. My excitement was hard to hide I couldn’t believe that I was on the other side of the world in the hands of a country that a few months prior I didn’t know existed. Morning came early, I couldn’t sleep any longer. Monday we start “work”, the other volunteers made it very clear we aren’t volunteers when one asks, we are travellers, visiting, and that is it. So Monday we start our 9-5 job at the hospital near by, I cant wait to blog more, but I suppose I shall come to an end for now. 

Our journey has begun, myself and Jen couldn’t be happier. We are in the hands of the most pleasant people I have ever came across. Today Sunday June 17th we begin an adventure that many cant even dream of. So to family and friends, we are safe, happy, and more then content with the life we have entered. Till next time!