When They Get It

Sometimes you spend so much time planning what you expect to be the perfect lesson and then it flops.  Despite all the preparations you do and the modeling you do, for some reason the kids just don’t get it and you basically just want to abort the mission 10 minutes in.

But then there are those lessons where you’re just experimenting.  You have an idea of where it will go, but you’re not sure they’ll even get it.  But for whatever reason, they do get it.  And the results are amazing.  Not amazing because they made perfect things, but amazing because they showed that they completely understood what you were trying to teach and they applied it.

This is what happened today.  We’re in our final unit of inquiry:  How We Express Ourselves.  We are finishing an author study of Eric Carle.  I wanted to help them to create their own animals in a similar style, but to make it their own.  As I read all the books, I encouraged them to notice the illustrations.  We wondered how he made it look the way it does.  We talked about texture in art.

When it came time to create, I gave them guidance.  We started by painting plain pieces of paper.  I wish I’d photographed this part.  They had so much fun painting in solid colors and then adding white to tint it.  Then they could use their fingers or the paint brushes or whatever else they could find to create texture on the paper.

We let it dry over night.

Then today I showed them how to draw their image on the white side of the paper.  I showed them how to cut it out in sections and then glue it all onto a background.  They totally understood how to do it:

 

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Poya Weekend in Kerala

The Indian province of Kerala is only about an hour and half plane ride from Colombo.  kochi-boat-by-treeFor our Poya day in November, we went to check it out.  We flew into Kochi and then got a ride to the backwaters of Alappuzha about 2 hours south.

We stayed in a cute homestay on the banks of one of the canals.  It was so different from the India we saw in the north.  It was green and lush and sparsely populated.

We had a chance to relax at the homestay and have some good meals.  We also had a kochi-boat-ridechance to go out in one of the boats for a tour of the canals.

 

 

 

 

We checked out the inside of one of these houseboats.

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The next day we went on a guided hike of the village.

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We walked by  a rice paddy where they were spreading calcium to fortify the rice.

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Henna plant

After Aleppuzha we headed to Kochi for a one night stay.  Kochi is a fairly small city, but it really didn’t seem like a long enough time to do/see everything.

Of course we had to check out Jew Street and the synagogue:

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We walked around a little.  It’s a very walkable city with lots of shops and restaurants.  Compared with our home in Sri Lanka, it’s a very pleasant place to walk around.

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They said that Hinduism is the majority religion, just like the rest of India.  But we saw so many churches, it was hard to believe.  When we took a closer look at the churches, they looked a whole lot like Hindu shrines.  It made me think that maybe people are Hindu, while they incorporate Christianity into their practice.

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Erika wanted to go see a puppet show or something.  So Renee and I went to a restaurant near the beach to watch the sunset.

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There was one small glitch to our whole weekend.  It didn’t end up affecting us too much in the end, but it was kind of wild at the time.  The Indian government had just revoked the use of 500 and 1000 rupee notes.

The BBC explains the situation here:  www.bbc.combbc.com

We saw people lining up to try to exchange their rupees.  The lines were often around the block.  There were people who were probably going to spend most of their day in line.  We originally had thought this would all post a problem.  Erika and I had the old 1000 rupee notes, but could not use them anywhere.

In the first place we stayed, we left a 1000 rupee note as a tip, figuring that they would exchange it with the rest of their money.  Once we got to Kochi, we were a little stressed because all the ATMs were out of cash.  It was insane!  But the guy who ran the hotel said he would change our 1000 notes and he also exchanged our US dollars.  So between that and using our credit cards to pay for things, we actually weren’t too bothered by the whole thing.

 

Rajasthan Road Trip Part 3: New Delhi

After a two day stay in Agra, we headed back to New Delhi to stay the night before flying back to Sri Lanka.  I haven’t mentioned the transportation much yet, but it’s worth mentioning now.  In a word, the driver we’d hired:  sucked.  I am generally pretty easy to please.  It would have been nice to have had the driver who picked us up from the airport.  He was funny and charming and aimed to please.  But we didn’t need funny and charming.  But we did pay a lot of money, so aiming to please is something that would have been nice.

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Back in New Delhi…but not as happy this time

Instead, this driver acted like it was such a big chore to drive us everywhere.  He did not seem to like our itinerary (and all the driving it entailed).  And he seemed resentful every time we asked him to take us someplace once we were at our destination city.  And to top it all off, he seemed to be a little sick.  He was constantly coughing and sneezing and sniffling.  Not a deal breaker, but not pleasant.

Anyways, we were looking forward to arriving in Delhi, dropping our bags off at the hotel, and then going on a walking food tour.  We would, of course need our driver to bring us to the hotel and to drop us off/pick us up at our food tour meeting point.  Apparently this was just asking way too much.  So instead of taking us to our hotel, he took us back to the home of the people who run the tour company.  This was way out of our way, and with traffic, ended up taking us a few extra hours.

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I now have a deeper understanding of a traffic jam.

We were pretty upset that this was happening.  The tour operators argued with us.  They tried to explain that when they said “24/7”, they didn’t mean all day every day.  We tried to explain what the term 24/7 means.  It was lost on them.  We just wanted to leave, so we just tried to get out of there as quickly as possible.

Things were awkward in the car now.  We knew he’d complained about us.  We let him know we were angry that he brought us there.  And now we’re stuck in traffic, trying to get to our hotel.  The driver was sooooooo angry.  He had major road rage.

But eventually we made it to the hotel, and the driver begrudgingly took us to our food tour meeting point (and apparently cussed out the tour operator several times on the phone as he navigated the traffic).

Once we were dropped off, things were fine!  We had a great food tour with a really friendly guy who really knew his stuff.

Our tour guide brought us to some great street food spots.  He also brought us through a spice market:

We ended up on the roof of the spice market:

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One of my favorite moments:  When I taught some Indian dude what the word clusterf*ck means:

The night we happened to be in Delhi was the night before a big festival.  Apparently all the markets and shops would be closed the following day.  So people were out shopping.  Thats why the streets were so crowded.  We had parathas at this wonderful little hole-in-the-wall shop down an alley way.  When we tried to leave, this is the scene we saw.  So our tour guide told us it wouldn’t be safe to leave just yet, so we just sat down and watched it all go by.  I’ve never seen a human traffic jam like this before.

This scene will remain in my memory as NEW DELHI.  And I love it.

Rajasthan Road Trip Part 2: Agra

Agra is not technically in Rajasthan.  But if you go to New Delhi, it makes sense to go to Agra because it’s only 2 hours away.  And you know, it has the Taj Mahal and stuff.

Fatehpur Siri

On the way to Agra, we stopped at Fatehpur Siri.  People say it’s an important historical sight, but I was unimpressed.  I suppose it was well kept, but it was pretty plain to look at.  I guess after some of the stuff we’d already seen, my eyes were hard to impress.

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We arrived in Agra on a Thursday evening.  The Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays, so on Friday we went to the Agra Fort.  We also visited the Tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah and we snuck a peak of the Taj Mahal from across the river.

Agra Fort

It’s a nice fort, as forts go.  I liked the courtyards.

We got a nice view of the Taj Mahal:

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I liked the structure of the fort.  It had lots of long lines and arches that were fun to photograph.

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Tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah

This tomb is often called the “Baby Taj” because it thought of as the draft for the Taj Mahal.

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Mehta Bagh

We were really eager to take a look at the Taj Mahal.  We heard about a park that is actually across the river behind the Taj Mahal, where we could get a really good view of it.  Mehta Bagh is a garden located across the Yamuna River.

After the Mehta Bagh we headed over to The Oberoi Amarvilas: the fancy pants hotel and restaurant with a view of the Taj Mahal.  dsc_2456I had a cocktail on the balcony and then we went downstairs to have a  very fancy dinner that did not disappoint.

 

 

 

The Taj Mahal

We woke up before dawn to see the sun rise at the Taj Mahal.  I haven’t seen the Taj Mahal in any other way, but I’m pretty sure this is the best.  It was everything I’d hoped it would be.

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Rajasthan Road Trip Part 1: The J’s

We squeezed an epic distance into a one week vacation.  We flew into Delhi,  were picked up at the airport by an absolutely delightful gentleman who took us for some great tandoori chicken, and then to the home of the people who ran the tour company.

We had some chai and did some small talk.

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Erika and I posing with one of the owners of the tour company.

Mostly we were there to pay them and settle the terms of our travel.  Our understanding was that we would take a train to Jaisalmer, and be picked up at the train station there.  Then the driver would drive us to all the places on our itinerary.  He would be available to us 24/7 during our trip (although we didn’t anticipate too much driving once we were at our destinations).

The 3 J’s

Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, and Jaipur (with a little stop in Pushkar for good measure -that’s the black dot:  it’s not big enough to make it onto the map).  Agra and New Delhi get their own blog posts.

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The Train to Jaisalmer

After our little meeting, we had to catch our train to Jaisalmer.  There was so much traffic in New Delhi.  We almost didn’t make it to the train on time.  We ended up paying some dudes in front of the train station to show us where our train was and to carry our luggage as we ran.  I loved that part:  running through the station, slipping and sliding, dodging people, dogs, and cows, up and down stairs, chasing after a set of tall Indian dudes who had our suitcases on their heads.  I’m pretty sure we overpaid them, but in my mind it was well worth it:  these guys saved our asses!

We made it to the train just in the nick of time and settled in for our 18 hour journey just as the train started to roll away.  It was a long journey.  We ate some crappy food, and then tried to get some sleep.  I did not sleep well.  But it was nice to watch the world go by on the train.

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View from our train 

We had a long stop in a little town called Pokeron. same-train-stop We got out and walk around. The people were all really curious about us, but very friendly.  Some ladies wanted to take a photo with me, so I asked to take a photo with my phone too.  The kids were great and they all wanted to pose for photos.  We also had some roadside fried food…which may have been a mistake for me, but we’ll get to that later… train-stop-in-pokaran-on-the-way-to-jaisalmer

This was our introduction to India really.  Everyone was so fun and loved to joke around.  The colors were so bright and the people were so happy.  I don’t know if I’ve ever connected with people as quickly as I did in India.  It was love at first sight.

Jaisalmer

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Jaisalmer Train Station:  you can see the fort in the background!

I wish we’d had more time in Jaisalmer.  We stayed at the Gulaal Hotel for the night.  It was an amazing hotel, decorated in the style of a palace.  And the fort was really fun too.

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View from the roof of our hotel during breakfast:  one minute it was bright and sunny, and the next minute you couldn’t see anything!  The waiters said it was a dust storm, but we thought it looked a lot more like fog!

We walked around the fort a little while.  The fort is an inhabited fort.  Unlike the other forts we ended up visiting, people live and work in this one, and you can even stay over night there. We didn’t stay in the fort because there is so much stress on the land that it’s actually making the fort sink.  So we were told it’s better to stay near the fort and go for a visit.

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I didn’t take a lot of photos here because I was feeling so sick.  But it was beautiful!

Later that day, Erika wanted to go to a puppet show.  I started to feel kind of sick.  Then I got really really sick.  I ended up running out to throw up.  I also had awful diarrhea.  It was terrible!!  I was in front of this cultural center, trying to find a place to throw up, and it was just coming out of both ends.  Ugh.  When I was “finished”, I jumped in a tuk tuk and went back to the hotel.  I’m pretty sure I had what they call Delhi Belly.  It could have been from the airplane food.  It could have been from the snacks we got in Pokeron.   Whatever it was, it made me so sick I could barely walk.

Jodhpur

I tried not to let it get me down.  The next day we drove to Jodhpur and stayed at the Devi Bahaman Hotel.  It was a  beautiful hotel.  It felt like we were staying in a little cottage in an English garden.  We were so hungry when we arrived.  We went directly to the restaurant and had some amazing curry.  My stomach was still a little off, but I managed to have a good taste.

The next day, we checked out the Mehrangarh Fort:

There was beauty around every corner…

 

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The city of Jodhpur is known as the Blue City

Outside the fort, we saw these women worshiping at a shrine:

On our way to the parking lot, a woman stopped us.  She wanted to take a photograph with us.  Then her family caught up with us and they wanted photos too.  Soon, we were posing and laughing and hugging.  The woman noticed Erika’s earrings and said she wanted to trade with her.  So Erika gave her the earrings off her ears, and the woman put her earrings in Erika’s ears:

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Maharaja’s Palace

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On our way out of Jodhpur, we swung by the Maharaja’s palace.  Apparently there is a museum that you can visit and for like a million rupees per night, you can even stay over night there.  We were a little early for the museum, so we didn’t go in.  The price tag for an overnight stay was a little steep for us, so we just drove by and had a look.

Pushkar

After Jodhpur, we drove to Pushkar.  I loved Pushkar.  Loved it!  It’s a small town that is on the banks of a holy lake.  People come from all over India to visit.  It also has a neat backpacker vibe to it.

The people were celebrating a lot of festivals while we were there.  We asked a lot of different people what was going on, and they all said something different.  So we couldn’t figure out it out.  But it was a total rager!

People were constantly partying.  It was amazing!  These trucks were driving around everywhere, and dudes covered in purple powder and paint would just rage it.  And then all of a sudden the music would stop and they’d disperse.

Pushkar is considered to be a Hindu holy place.  It is located on a lake and is a destination for pilgrims.  We visited the ghat (staircase into the lake) where Ghandi’s ashes were placed.  I regretted not bringing my mom’s ashes.  She would have loved it if I’d sprinkled a little of her in there with Ghandi.  Maybe I’ll go back one day to do that.

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Ghandi’s ashes were placed from this ghat 

 

I loved walking through the streets of Pushkar.  Again, the people pushkar-camelswere so friendly.  We had seen camels from the road, but this was the first place where we saw camels just hanging out in the streets.

The camels were also used in one of the parades we saw.  There were so many parades.  I couldn’t put my camera down.  And again, no one was able to tell us exactly what was going on.  People were just making party I guess.

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We were told that all these parades and processions were leading to this hill where they would set some cross on fire and set off a bunch of fireworks.  Not even kidding:

We ate dinner on a rooftop restaurant and watched it all happen.

We were up there for a long time.

Oh Pushkar, how I love you!!  I will return one day!

Jaipur

By the end of our stay in Pushkar, I was starting to feel a lot better and I was able to eat whole meals without feeling sick.  We then drove to Jaipur and stayed at Hotel Pearl Palace.  Jaipur was a neat city.

I was pretty much over the fort scene, so I went to get a massage while Erika saw the fort.  The massage was not the best, but I was tired and it was nice to have a little time to just lay around.

After the massage, I got a ride back to the hotel with a tuk driver named Jonty.  He was insane.  And apparently, because I had ridden with him once, he owned me.  No one else around our hotel would drive me. They said Jonty had to.  He was completely hilarious, a little odd, and a good time.

Amber Palace

While in Jaipur, we visited the Amber Palace.  It’s a beautiful palace with amazing courtyards, gardens, beautiful vistas, and an incredibly ornate Mirrored Palace with a mirrored ceiling.

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After Jaipur, it was time to drive to Agra to see the Taj Mahal!!!  Check out Part 2 to see what we saw!

The Maldives

September, 2016

I fell way behind on posting my travels in 2016.  So now what we’ll have is a roundup of travel photos and stories that I’ve been meaning to post.

Last September I went to the The Maldives with Erika.  We stayed on the island of Dharavandhoo.  But our purpose was not to just relax on the beach, IMG_1558.JPGwhich we did plenty of.  Our purpose was really to swim with the manta rays.  For that, we went to Hanifaru Bay.  And it was spectacular.  We were there for about 3 days and we went twice a day to swim with them.

We stayed at the spectacular Aveyla Manta Village resort.  This is a very special place.  It’s right on the ocean, and has a very family feeling to it, while at the same time maintaining a very high quality accommodation.  The only thing that wasn’t so great was the scuba diving.  scuba-imageWe tried a dive on our first day.  It was our fault for not telling the dive master that we were a little rusty, but I think that a good dive master should ask about the skill level
of the divers.  It’s kind of his job to ask us.  On the form we filled out, I wrote down the truth: I haven’t done any diving in a few years, and my total dives are pretty low, making me a novice.  I don’t think he even read the form.

The dive was a terrible experience.  The worst diving I’ve ever done.  I’ve never felt fearful when diving, but I panicked during this dive.  The dive master tried to be helpful, and I was able to settle down, but it was a dsc_2008horrible experience.  I’m not put off diving for good, but I’ll need to find a good dive master for my next dive.

Fortunately this experience did not at all cloud my overall experience.  img_1555Later that day, I went out on the boat to Hanifaru Bay to try to find some mantas to snorkel with.  The Aveyla staff were fantastic!  They really seemed to love their jobs:  helping tourists experience this amazing manta heaven.

I was blown away.  There were dozens of mantas swimming around eating plankton.  And they all seemed to want to play with us.

Diving with these animals was unlike any experience I’ve ever had.  We were instructed not to try to touch the mantas, but they didn’t get the same instructions.  They were so friendly and seemed to be truly curious about us.

They would come right up to us, and kind of skim their bodies against ours.  I felt like they were truly trying to connect with us.  It was magical.

We couldn’t get enough of the magic, and ended up snorkeling twice a day for 3 days.  It turned out that snorkeling was a better way to access the mantas.  They seem to stay away from the scuba divers, maybe on account of all the bubbles.

We wished we could be in the water with the mantas all day every day, but that wasn’t very realistic.  So we lounged around at the resort, and explored the very small island.

The Maldives is a really interesting country.  It consists of over 1200 islands, but only about 200 of them are inhabited by Maldivians.  The rest of the islands are either resort islands or they are not inhabited at all.  The Maldives is a strictly Muslim country.  This means that Maldivian islands, by law, have no alcohol or pork.  You are likely to see women wearing full burkas.  And like other Muslim countries, friendly hospitality is the norm!  People welcomed us with opened arms.  It was a lovely experience!

I’d love to return to this amazing island and stay with Aveyla again.  We almost didn’t make it off the island!  On the day we were set to leave, our plane from the small airline called Flyme never came!!  We waited all day, but it just never showed up.  So the airline paid for us to stay for another night at Aveyla.  The resort was very accommodating.  We had to make an awkward phone call to our principal and tell him that we were indeed stuck in The Maldives, and we would have to miss a day of school.  He was very understanding and we had a good laugh about it when we returned.

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And All of a Sudden It’s November

I know that the earth spins around the sun at the same rate every day, but sometimes it seems to spin a little faster than others.  Back in September, I felt like time was going by so slowly.  I was learning so many new things about living in Sri Lanka.  Every day was a new adventure in living abroad.

And then all of a sudden it’s November!  I’ve had a lot of adventures since I went to the cricket back in September.

There was a great trip to swim with the manta rays in the Maldives…

An epic road trip through Rajasthan and into Agra and New Delhi over October break…

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And a weekend trip to Kerala in Southeastern India….

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Each of these trips will warrant their own individual posts to display some of the photos I captured.

As for life in Sri Lanka, it’s chugging along.  I bought a few items for a home gym.  I decided that I am not very likely to go workout at some crappy smelly gym in Battaramulla.  I checked one out.  It was a “higher end” gym, and it was awful.

home-gymSo I decided to spend the cost of a year’s membership on a spin bike and a kettle bell.  Maybe later I’ll get some dumbbells.  Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to workout very much yet.  I’ve been really really sick.  After October break, I got sick with a chest cold and a fever.  I never really recovered from it.  For about 2-3 weeks I felt weak and ill.  Then right around the primary production (Peter Pan Jr.), I got really sick.  Like scary sick.  I had a high fever for a few days and a terrible cough.  I was bedridden for a few days with Abby.  bedridden-with-abbyEveryone said that I should have gone to the hospital. I really didn’t want to.  Luckily everything was ok.  But with a fever that high, I shouldn’t have been so silly.

I made a full recovery.  It took a few weeks to feel like myself again, but I’m pretty much all better now.  Just a lingering cough.

Work has kept me really occupied.  Learning how to teach the PYP in this environment has taken a lot of time and energy.  It’s all worthwhile and incredibly interesting.  But there is a lot to learn and a lot of things to navigate.

I enjoy teaching the PYP overall.  It is a very new paradigm for me, so learning how to teach what I know how to teach within this structure (or lack of structure!) is a challenge.  It’s also a bit of a challenge teaching in a place that does not have the same resources that I am used to.  I expected to come to a private international school and have all the resources I need at my fingertips!

This is not the case at all.  Sri Lanka is a developing country.  I can’t just order a set of this or that on Amazon.  There isn’t an endless supply of library of books to choose from.  Math resources are few and far between.  I am finding that I need to be very creative with the materials that are available to me.  It’s not what I was expecting, but I am up for the challenge.  I enjoy extending myself like this.

In a lot of ways I feel as if I am a first year teacher again.  It’s not at all a bad thing.  Thinking about where I just came from…a 9th year teacher of students with emotional disturbance, a decade of living in San Francisco…I was looking for a change.  I wanted to shake everything up in my life.

I have succeeded admirably.  And I am developing more as a teacher than I think I ever would have back in the Bay Area.  thums-up

 

 

The Cricket

If you’re going to go to cricket, go to evening cricket.  And if you’ve got to go to cricket, try to go with Aussies.  They are a jolly good time!

I’m not much of a sports fan.  I grew up watching Monday Night Football.  I’ve been to plenty of baseball games.  I kind of like watching March Maddness –especially when they are down to the final four.  I love seeing all these guys playing with their hearts and souls.  It’s pretty inspiring.  But as far as my day-to-da life goes, I honestly couldn’t care less about sports.

But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to check out a cricket match in a place where cricket is taken so seriously.

Apparently it takes days to finish a match.  Since around the time when I arrived in Sri Lanka, Australia has been here playing against Sri Lanka’s cricket team, which evidently is quite good.  This weekend, they were at the end of the series (or whatever they call it),

img_4067and they were playing one final match against Sri Lanka.  It sounds like the winner had already been established, and this was a final “good-bye” match.  An abbreviated match played at night.  img_4072

On a Friday night.  Perfect for the casual tourist looking for an experience but not too much of an investment.

Well, it turned into a bit of an investment, but it was all part of the experience.  We sat in traffic for a good hour.  I was packed into a tuk tuk with two delightful Aussies.   The traffic was pretty epic, but we made the most of it.

We had plenty of beer while we were there.  We did want to fit in after all!

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I didn’t end up watching much of the game.  I was there to see what it was all about, and to have the experience.  I didn’t try to understand the game.  It was a bit too complicated for my little American brain to wrap itself around 😉

 

The Culture Shock

It’s a weird term for what I’m experiencing.  I certainly don’t feel terribly shocked by the culture in Sri Lanka.  In fact, I am still quite attracted to it.  But it’s the most agreed upon terminology, so this is what I’ll go with.  They say we can experience four phases of culture shock:  Honeymoon, Frustration, Adjustment, and Acceptance.  I experienced a very clear Honeymoon Phase.  For the first month or so, I was pretty delighted.  The house was new and the friends were new.  The job was new and everything seemed shiny and neat.

But now, almost like clockwork, I’ve hit a wall.  Things aren’t so shiny anymore.  In fact, nothing in Sri Lanka is shiny.  That may be the allure.  But some things have started to get to me.  I can’t seem to communicate with anyone.  There are misunderstandings daily.  Everything seems to take so long and when it gets done, it always seems half-assed.  I find myself being easily frustrated by everything, and wanting to hide a little.

And then there’s the added element of being in a new school culture.  They just do things so differently here.  For the most part, I love working here, but there are frustrations almost on the daily that I find myself facing.   They are fairly minor and easy to navigate.  I find other frustrations that are not as easy to deal with though.

I’m frustrated that I have to put bug spray on every night unless I want to be in my bedroom the whole time.  And the bug spray irritates my skin.  I’m frustrated that I’m so dependent on tuk tuk drivers to take me everywhere.  I’m dependent on them, but it can be so hard to figure out where I’m going too.  So getting around can be a very frustrating experience.  I’m frustrated that I can’t just step outside my front door and have a relaxing walk with my dog.  I used to really take solace in long walks with Abby.  Now walking her is a source of anxiety and fear because there are so many street dogs.

So many frustrations happening all around me.  Maybe they are stemming from my American brain trying to compare everything to what it was like in America.  And it’s nothing like America.  That’s why I came here.  Because I wanted something that was so very much not America.  Isn’t ironic then that I’d be comparing everything?  But I think that’s the natural thing to do.  I know I’ll get over this.  Things won’t seem so daunting.  It is only September after all.  I have plenty of time to adjust.

And honestly it already feels better just putting it all in words.  In perspective.  I’m headed to Bangkok in a few hours for a professional development.  I was sad to send Abby off to the Dog Haven for the weekend.  I miss her so much.  But my god:  I’m going to Bangkok for a PD!  In what universe does that happen!  In my old life, I’d have been lucky to go downtown to 555 Franklin Street for a PD.  And here I am going to Thailand.  There were some frustrations leading up to this PD, but in the end:  I’m on my way to an all expenses paid weekend in Bangkok.  Blessings are all around.  And I don’t even have to look too far to find them.

Elephants, Elephants, Elephants

The Gathering in Minneriya National Park

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This place is special.  I’ve seen elephants in isolation.  At the zoo mostly.  Or in Thailand working for The Man.  I think I even saw one in the circus when I was a kid.  But those experiences made me feel sad.  I didn’t really like seeing the elephants contained like that.

The Gathering is different.  There’s a peaceful feeling when you’re out there among all those elephants.  Every year between July and September during the dry season, herds of elephants migrate to the water reservoir in Minneriya to graze.

There are just as many humans there as there are elephants.  All these humans flock to Minneriya every day between the months of July and September to view the elephants and catch a few (hundred) photos of them.  Despite all the people and the safari jeeps, there is still a majestic feeling to this place.  All these people are there for the same reason, excited by the same thing.  It has a communal feeling.  It reminds me of seeing live music.  And similar to going to a show, try as I may, I can’t seem to capture it with a camera.  There’s something about these places and these experiences that get woven into who you are.  And then you have these photos left over to remind you of them.

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There were a LOT of other people there…DSC_1658

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It was my first time on a safari.

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