Twenty three years later
Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
187Trip End Ongoing
Comparisons flooded my mind on the journey from the airport into Colombo:
- gone are the numerous potholes that previously ensured a bouncy ride
- gone are the oxcarts and the bicycles that used to slow traffic down to a crawl
- gone is the sound of frustrated drivers constantly leaning on their horns
Only one week later, and my romantic notion of perfection has been replaced by a bit of reality
Gerry and I came to Sri Lanka in 1988 as CIDA co-operants, mandated to establish a regional training centre specializing in agriculture and community development - rather a daunting task at any time, but particularly so in the midst of two wars: the JVP in the South and the LTTE in the North. Although not in my job description, I initiated research that ultimately led to the formation of seven “Women’s Productivity Groups”, with each group starting a small entrepreneurship project. It is my plan to return to the area of my research in an attempt to locate the leaders of each of the seven groups, to see where they are in their lives, twenty three years later. But more about that in a future entry.
I have also been asked by SOS Children’s Villages Canada, to travel to Jaffna to collect photos and information that might assist in their fundraising efforts for a proposed new orphanage in the north
But so far I have simply been in Colombo, hanging out with my Sri Lankan friends, Tania and Shireen. I have been fortunate enough to be invited to various dinners, to a couple of NGO functions, to a Sri Lankan drumming and dancing performance, and to a special exhibition of art and photography used as a means to work with children traumatized by the war.
And each day brings smiles as I experience anew yet another aspect or activity of this country that I so admire.......and some that I could do without:
- observing the head wobble that indicates either yes or no.....and is surely meant to confuse
- indulging in all the delicious versions of rice and curry, tasting so much better when eaten with the fingers
- watching the women attempting to keep their beautiful saris from dipping into the puddles during a rain storm, and marvelling at how this fashion icon has been kept alive
- tasting buffalo curd with treacle (something akin to yogurt with maple syrup) in a specially made pottery bowl
- standing in line for three long hours at the Department of Immigration, waiting for an extension to my initial 30 day visa........knowing full well that the entire process could easily be completed in fifteen minutes or so
- strolling along the oceanfront at the famous Galle Face Green
- attempting to “get rid of the touts” who are determined to be my guide for the day. It’s amusing how they so often start off by saying “I don’t want any money, but.........”
- sampling all manner of tropical fresh fruit including rambutan, woodapple, and papaya......but not yet durian!!
Enough already - that’s more than I intended for an introduction. Tomorrow I’m off on a train journey to Kandy, where the hot and humid weather will hopefully be replaced by some cooler mountain breezes.