Ayubowan!Posted: April 8, 2012
Greetings from Kegalle, Sri Lanka! After quite a long journey trying to get here, I finally made it early last Sunday, and I dived in immediately!
The first day that I arrived, another volunteer and I took a tour of Kandy and the surrounding Hill country. We stopped at scenic views, took a tour of a tea plantation (one of Sri Lanka’s biggest exports), and visited Sri Dalada Maligawa, the Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic. It is pilgrimage season here, so there were many devotees at the temple; it was surprising to feel so calm and serene in a place that was so crowded! Afterwards we enjoyed a show of some traditional Kandyan Dances and drumming, which featured beautiful masks and a wonderful insight into the culture and their folklore.
I started my first day at the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage the very next day. There are currently 83 elephants at Pinnewala – 50 females and 33 males (of which only 3 are tuskers). I promise to give you more details on Pinnewala when I can! In the past week since I started, I have bottle fed baby elephants, helped bathe sick and injured elephants, and even learned some elephant commands. Every day though, I am knee deep in elephant poo until about 10:30 in the morning, helping the workers muck out the elephant closures. After all of the dirty work, I get to walk down to the river and watch the elephants bathe and play, and I get to sit much closer than the tourists! I spend a lot of time with the mahouts (the elephants’ caretakers), and I am learning more and more about the elephants and Pinnewala every day.
As it turns out, I will be here for Buddhist/Hindu New Year, which is next week. So until next time, suba aluth avurruddack vewa (happy New Year)!
P.S. I look forward to sharing much more with you all once I get back, especially pictures!