Friday, May 2, 2008

Rachel's at the Airport

[This post was written yesterday, but I needed to edit photos before posting.]
Yesterday was May Day, which for a socialist-wannabe-country means it is labor day. So we had the day off. We drove back from Galle in the morning and saw all the parades along Galle Road. It appeared there were bike races, but I can't be sure. People were standing along the road with buckets of water -- was that to pour on the hot cyclists? I like that idea (feel free to throw clean water on me if you ever see me biking by in Colombo).My photography workshop went well (I think). The new communications adviser, Jo-Anne, was there and she thought they learned a lot. The photos taken during their practice session were very nice.
Jo-Anne, by the way, is from Canada. She arrived before the New Year, but since she is VSO she had a two-week training. So yes, she just arrived, but she speaks oodles more Sinhala than me. She lives a five-minute walk from my house. We are still trying to figure out why VSO got her a house when I'm the only one officially living in my house now.
We stayed at Shangri La while in Galle. This is a fancy place by Sewalanka standards, but our Chairman knows the owner so we get a deal. I'm not sure why I've never had the pleasure of staying here before, but since I have to organize my own travel for these photography workshops, I figured I could stay there this time. The Sewalanka handbook says we are all to be treated equally and I know other Sewalanka staff have stayed at Shangri La, so I'm not too worried that my bill was much higher for this workshop than for others.

The night we stayed the cook at Shangri La killed himself. He drank a cup of acid. Everyone said they thought he was happy and no one understands why he would do this. The suicide rate here is really incredible. I went to a lecture a few months ago and someone mentioned how lanterns should be redesigned in Sri Lanka because so many people get burned from improper handling. A doctor stood up and said she works with burn victims and the burns are not consistent with accidental spillage -- these burns that people blame on their lantern are on purpose. People purposely pour oil over themselves and then set it ablaze.As we walked down the road to find dinner we saw the wake. The cook's body was laid out on a bed of white lace, family in tears, white flags along the road indicating death.

On that somber note I sit here at work gorging on a recently received package (yeah Ben!) of Jelly Bellys and chocolate covered espresso beans. This was a miracle package -- it came directly to me and I didn't have to pay a duty. Ben how did you do it?

Tomorrow Rachel comes. We will enjoy high tea at the Galle Face Hotel and try to get to bed early as we leave Sunday very early to make it to the elephant orphanage in time for the morning feeding. I probably will not write before our travels are done.

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