Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Grand Arrival

Well I'm here. 17 hours of flying time (19 hours in a plane, they made us sit on the runway at Heathrow) and a crazy drive to the "hostel" from the airport, but I made it safe and sound.

My first impression of Sri Lanka is that it is very much like India. Traffic is horrendous with scooters, trucks, buses, cars and tuk-tuks (rickshaws) all fighting for space. Even with the crazy traffic, I still believe I'll purchase a bike and use that for transportation. It seems like everyone is far more aware of the need to share the road here than in the States and the real danger is in the middle of the street (because of crazy passing) than on the curbs.

Everyone here is incredibly nice. The two expats who live in the hostel with me right now are both leaving, having finished there terms here. So last night -- my first night in country-- they had a little going away party. They didn't know when I was arriving and were very apologetic, but I think it was great because I got to meet a lot of people who are actually staying in country. There are an additional two expats working at Sewalanka who are staying, but one is Australian and the Australian government funds her housing and the other is married and thus has an apartment. So there may be some time while I'm the only one in our house. They say they plan to let local woman who live outside of Colombo stay in the house during the week, which will be interesting and good for my language skills.

So the house is amazing. They call it a hostel, but it is really a large house with many bedrooms, a living rooms, dining room, kitchen and two full baths. They were burgled last year and thus now have a 24-hour a day security detail. Also, one of the current residents complained about cleaning so they hired a cleaning lady. This may sound extravagant, but they do use this house for anyone who comes into town and apparently in the past full-time residents were expected to wash the sheets and towels for these guests. Anyway, the cleaning lady has been sick for a month, so we are responsible for cleaning right now. With three of us it doesn't seem to be too difficult to manage, but when I'm by myself it may become so (it is a really big house).

The office and house both have wireless, which is quite a luxury. The office, believe it or not, has air conditioning! I'm actually cold as I write this. My office is shared with about five other program directors. They all seem very nice and it will be interesting to learn what the other programs are doing. There is environment (two of us are working on that), sustainable agriculture, gender, youth and children and sustainable tourism.

I'll provide more details on the work and my first impressions when I know more. Meanwhile, you can all be assured that I am happy and safe now! My worst nightmare has come true, however, they are getting me a cell phone!


Jen Kaleba said...

So glad to hear you've arrived safely. Dean is also pleased to hear this, but since he is on hiatus, he does not know of your Sri Lankan trip yet. I'll be sure to tell him when I see my dreams. ('s like you're still next door!)

I'll be reading this religously. And I'll be sure to let you know when Jen G pops. Cheers and cross-oceanic hugs.

Ben said...

Hey, I got your pepco refund check for $22. What do you want me to do with it you gorilla killer...I can't believe you are settling for the cell phone. Glad to hear you made it

jen k said...

Ha ha...he called you out, gorilla killer!

Jen and Dima said...

What was the name of that metal again? Gorillium? For shame, for shame...

Glad you arrived safe and sound. We miss you around here. And you don't have to wait to hear from Jen K. about when I pop. Watch our blog: I'll be posting from Labor and Delivery!