My 1,000th post!!
Hey fam!! It’s JuJu again, and I’m still in Sri Lanka having a BLAST!! This experience continues to get better and better, and all I can do is thank God that He has given me this opportunity! Sorry I’m a little late with this email, internet isn’t readily available around here, so I get to the cafe when I can (I know, you’re shocked that I don’t have immediate access to my addiction, but don’t worry I’ve been doing fine without it) ;)
So, this past week has been quite a whirlwind! I think I have really begun to adjust to the stark differences from life in America pretty well, considering everything is different. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the stares, however. Anywho, past no AC, mosquito nets, and intense humidity and heat, other differences have really begun to open my eyes to just how different life is in Sri Lanka. The way buildings are structured and their uncleanliness is so surprising to me, and a lot of times I can barely tell if a place is opened because the doorways are barely identified and the sidewalks are not clearly defined and usually there’s trash everywhere. In America these establishments wouldn’t be able to open their doors, let alone sell products. Sri Lanka also doesn’t have an underground sewage system, so it’s been really fun walking through Moratuwa and getting hit with the stench at random times. And, after travelling this past weekend, I realized that there are not highways or anything…there are just random roads that are kind of paved in some places and not others. The van ride back was quite the rollercoaster. You can never realize how good you’ve got it until you don’t have it anymore. (This is the time at which I MUST thank my parents for working so hard so that I could have simple amenities that you could’ve cut off at any time. I didn’t think I could be any more grateful for you both, but my gratitude has definitely reached new heights.)
Life at the school, Moratu Maha Vidalaya, couldn’t be any more interesting. Every day I see new things that are a culture shock. One day, I saw students bow to the master English teacher, showing a deep respect for her. The next day I learn that prefects (yes, they have prefects) were pulling students out of class to cut their hair if it was not up to standards. And, late students are punished for being tardy, by having to clean the yard or carry their backpacks on their heads to class, etc. Basically, I don’t know if I would make it in their world of “education”. lol In some instances, I have seen progress with our students, and in other ways, I am accepting how the language barrier and the way the school is run will be impediments we have to get around to continue to make progress. Getting a new set of classes every day along with different age groups really affects our lesson plans and keeps us on our toes at all times, but I think it has been great experience for me to gain. And, the best part is developing relationships with the students. For kids to be coming up to me and asking if I’m coming to their class, is a reward I never expected, and this is why I want to teach. You never know the impact you can make in someone’s life as a part of their education.
Lastly, our weekend trip was EPIC. It first started with an absolutely awful 5.5 hour trip in a bus with no air condition (of course) that was packed with more people than seats. I found out later that it only costed about 2 dollars, so I guess we got our money’s worth. After finishing that bus trip we decided to pay for an air-conditioned van for the return trip. But, we arrived safely in Dam bulla on Friday and visited a cave temple that was about a 20-minute climb. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Buddhas in my life (which is a thought I have at least twice a week because Buddhas are everywhere). It was funny because we climbed a half mile up, and then once we got there some people were like: “you can’t go in, your knees are showing.” So, we had to purchase these little sarongs, which are kind of like skirts and tie around the waist, to wear while we were there. I also found it funny that all the way up the climb people were on their hustle trying to sell flowers, fake jewelry, food, etc., which I found just as disrespectful as my knees showing. How are you going to use a sacred symbol as a way to make a living? Anywho, on Saturday we climbed Sigiriya, which is a site considered to be one of the Eighth Wonders of the World! It is a rock that stands 1,214 feet high that was once a palace back in ancient times. Climbing it was soo crazy, because you were literally on the side of the rock climbing spiral stairs or very steep stone stairs. Plus, there were massive hornets’ nests hanging off of the rock, so those really added to the scare factor. It’s not enough that we’re really high up on a rock, there have to be hornets, too. But, I felt so accomplished when we reached the top! Being able to see the city from the top of that rock was an amazing feeling, and I was in awe of God and His work! I had to stop and thank Him. Interestingly enough, going back down the rock was probably more nerve-wracking than coming up, because you had to watch every step you took and fight against gravity. It was such an adventure thought, and I’m so glad I did it! We then visited Polonaruwwa, which is another archaeological site of an ancient city in Sri Lanka. I can’t even describe what it was like to be walking amongst the ruins of a city from the 12th century!! It was so cool. The only bad experience was having to use the bathroom there. It wasn’t a bathroom with stalls and toilets…the stalls just had a hole on the floor that you had to use… I think it actually took a little piece of my soul, but I made it. ;) Overall, I had an awesome time in Dam Bulla!! I never thought I would see myself hiking and spending 12-hour days sight-seeing, but I totally enjoyed it!!
I find it appropriate that my 1,000th post is about my experiences in Sri Lanka! How much more epic can it get?!!