Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More on Trinco.

Ah dear bloggers, we are once again sorry that we have made you wait so long for our next post…but here we are. Back. With another adventure to the coast even.

There is nothing like a spontaneous adventure, really, so that is what we did. The day before we decided a last stint at the beach would be optimum (defined: most conducive to a favorable outcome; best) and so to put this decision into pro-active action, we woke up at 6 in the morning one fine Tuesday and hopped a rattling, shaking, booming beast of a bus. We trundled onward for four and a half hours (with the roughly three hundred people who also decided that bus ride would be fun that day)– stopping only once or twice so the bus driver could have a cup of tea. Naturally. We arrived a little windblown, but otherwise intact and were picked up at the bus halt by our very own Bala – who, incidentally, was very wary of the idea of two airheads on a non-English-speaking bus. Oh ye of little faith.
Wending our way through the streets of Trinco, we related stories of our incompetent bus conductor, who, with a casual flick of the wrist misinformed us at every given opportunity (wanting to walk to a hotel, he waved in the hotels general direction, failing to mention it was 11 miles away), and presently found ourselves at a little guesthouse called “Guesthouse”. It was basic but such is the nature of spontaneous trips – more basic the better. It also fringed the most perfect beach I have personally ever seen. Private, clear, blue, warm, white sanded and tourist-free it really was absolutely flawless.
Now Bala trips are traditionally non-stop, tiring, an absolute blast and marked by house music, biscuits and milo – and this was absolutely no exception. We (Bala, Dan, Sumedha, Fado, Al and Steph) boated off straight away to Pigeon Island where we spent hours snorkeling in the deep blue and oood and aaahd – or bubbled enthusiastically– at the lobsters, fish, sharks and sea leeches of immense size swimming around the nether world.
6 hours of swimming and lemonpuffs later, we jetted off into the sunset…only to sit on the beach and enjoy it from there. We flew kites and walked and body surfed and had a general good time until the best dinner of all time. Our fisherman friends fished our dinner from the ocean and proceeded to cook it right there on the beach in a custom made BBQ. All it took was a grill over a hole in the sand, several prime sized fish and some salt and pepper. Add on fresh caught prawns and crabs and more lemon puffs and you have yourself joy on a plate.
The butt-crack of dawn came early the next day. Breakfast? You guessed it. Lemon puffs (let me just clarify – lemon cream holding two melt-in-your-mouth biscuits together make for the most addicting creation ever. We brought half a suitcase back.) We spent the better part of the morning looking for an evasive sea turtle that never showed its face but that was fine because we got to swim around with a guide who showed us everything else the sea had to offer. The man was apparently super human, didn’t have to breath normal air and diving 35 feet to casually observe mollusks on the ocean floor in nothing but flippers was seemingly commonplace.

Snorkeling was, in due time, replaced with an activity of the faster variety. We tied a body board to the back of the boat in lieu of water skies or inner tubes, seeing as we didn’t have those and then strapped ourselves firmly to the body board in question. Clinging with ardent determination to a bit of rope holding body-boarder to boat, the boat was motioned forward and lo, the adventures of the impromptu water sport session began. No one drowned, arms stayed on the body board is still intact. Absolute success.

After on last dive into the sea and a frantic swim to shore, we packed up the jeep and said goodbye to the coast.

On the way home we lunched on vast mounds of fried rice and visited the temple Thirukoreswaram – an ancient hindu temple on a cliff overlooking the sea. It was beautiful and very interesting. Shoes came off, shawls were wrapped around offending bare shoulders and legs and the view, the smells, the sounds, the drums, the prayers and the colors were taken in.

The drive home was a little cozy, but backstreet boys, house, westlife, mad bouts of laughter, biscuits and good company made it entirely worthwhile.
Best. Trip. Ever.
Alisa and Steph

Sunday, August 15, 2010

On Janaka.

Today I’d like to introduce you to Janaka. He’s about 3 years old and the majority of our funny work stories involve this little fellow—I think Steph’s summary of his personality says it best, “when I look at his face I can’t help but laugh”.

A few of our best stories:

There was the time when, on our walk to the grounds, Janaka managed to get himself into trouble on three separate occasions before we had even crossed the street. First, he pinched a nice, unassuming young lady in the behind while we were walking past her. I think she was a bit confused when she turned around and found herself looking down into this little face:

After that escapade, and the effusive apologizes that followed, I naively assumed all would be well and we were on our way again. Things were going swimmingly until I heard an angry yell from down the street. I looked around and spotted one of the vendors shaking his finger toward Janaka, who had taken it upon himself to steal a pair of underwear from one of the booths. All of us made the trek back to the vendor and handed over his unmentionables. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it far before Janaka found a rope that looked perfect for climbing; the fact that it was already in use to protect a freshly painted fence from getting smudged didn’t hinder him in the least. Despite all of these adventures, we somehow always manage to make it to the grounds in one piece—the fact that it takes us approximately six million hours to do so doesn’t really matter. It’s all about the journey, right?

When we’re at the grounds the kids usually do things like watch the elephants, draw in the dirt, climb poles, or run around. Janaka decided to mix it up the other day and started chucking wood at the church doors. When we asked him what in the world he was doing, his sincere response was, “teacher, there’s a devil in there”.

St. Pauls - apparently home of the "yacka"

He even told his brother about it...who then spread the news.

Chiko, Sanu and Janaka

The amount of times I’ve had to disciple Janaka are too many to count. It’s come to the point where he now comes up voluntarily, pats my arm, says sorry, and runs off—even when he hasn’t been misbehaving. We can’t help it, despite all his shenanigans, he has our hearts.

Much love,

Alisa and Steph

Thursday, August 12, 2010

On Kandy.

Kandy is where I come from. It is home and setting of many a childhood memory, school girl story and great adventure. It is also home of a rich cultural heritage that gives Kandy it's flair. We spent a weekend visiting the Temple of the Tooth and bartering at the market...a process which is slowly becoming an enjoyable habit...and of course, exploring the Botanical Gardens. What trip home would be complete without a dash through those ancient lawns?

The gardens were once the pleasure gardens of King Vikramabahu III (go on...say it out loud...) and today are 150 acres of palm trees, bats, orchids, monkeys and highly demonstrative couples (to be found behind any fern or fast growing bamboo patch in the given area).

We spent our afternoon walking and picture taking and climbing the old java fig tree. I was told once long ago that it was the one tree that could be seen from space. It was only in the last two years that I found out I was being lied to this entire time.

Also we discovered the multiple practical uses of the common leaf...visual aids provided below. The options, really, are endless.

A stint on the local bus and a hike up the hill later and we were home...

The weekend quickly progressed to include an afternoon at the Dhaladha Maligawa...or temple of the tooth. The Maligawa is said to house a tooth of Buddha and is probably one of the most renown, most visited temples in Asia. Shoes came off, poojas were heard and we even spotted elephants...imagine that! It was a slight shocker, however, to learn that apparently these elephants bring good luck...except in order for the good luck to commence in a persons life via elephant one is required to be carted underneath the elephant at the age of about 3 months... promptly followed by ones aunts and cousins and in-laws in a ceremonious fashion. Imagine the confusion of the elephant...

Our last big adventure was the market...who knew haggling and a few select words of singhala could be so effective? Good deals left, right and centre, gorgeous fabrics and colors of every hue made for very happy girls and a whole host of new friends made.

Updates on work and our kids so soon dear readers!

So much love,
Alisa and Steph