Well, its almost been a month, and it has seriously flown by. I’m wrapping up my time with the elephants this week, and I’ve gotten to do a lot of surprise activities. Perhaps a reward for being such a hard worker? I’ll go with that…
I got another chance to bottle feed the babes, instantly making us life-long friends. I helped clean out the closure for one of my favorite elephants; in addition to being blind, and having a bullet still lodged under his skin, Raja is the oldest elephant at the orphanage, and has exceeded the average age of Indian elephants (he’s estimated to be 80, most Indian elephants live to be 70 or so). One of my favorite things to do after the big herd marches back up to the orphanage from the Maha Oya River, is helping to bathe the smaller, sick herd. Tikiri always spoils me with trunk kisses. She loves it when you blow in her snout, and she blows right back! Dumari loves laying down for her bath, and enjoys a good scrubbing. I am definitely going to miss these ladies.
What surprised me, and I only realized recently, is that I have grown really attached to the little cliff-side town of Kegalle. I love taking my half-hour walk to the internet cafe, passing the usual people at the usual times. We always exchange smiles. I’ll be sad to leave here on Friday, when I move to Ja-Ela (about 45 minutes outside of Colombo).
Planning on doing the Adam’s Peak pilgrimage this weekend. I’ve been told we’ll have to start climbing around 9:00 PM to summit at sunrise. I can’t even imagine walking over night! I am excited and anxious for the challenge.
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!