Final group blog on the ground...

OceanStars :: Saturday 1st November 2008 :: This Story

Friday 31st October/Saturday 1st November

The morning began, for some of us, with a very early morning swim – 5.15am – to see the sunrise! The sea was calm, and full of leaping fish and swimming crabs! Jan overslept and finally arrived on the back of a bicycle having missed the minibus! We were going to walk, but Ranga (our good shepherd) would not allow us to! The sunrise over the sea was beautiful and a sad reminder of all we are going to miss when we are back in Britain.

When everyone was up and about, it was time to get sorted for our last morning at the playgroups. Our schedule did not run to time (so what’s new!?) as Harshana had problems getting an exit pass out of Batticaloa from the police. Most of the group eventually left for their respective playgroups while Dilanee, Janaki and Jo spent the morning meeting with project leaders/ministers to discuss funding and proposed projects.

Our morning playgroup sessions went well and once again it was just a joy to see the children laugh and enjoy themselves. For all of us it was a wrench to leave them – they have truly left a mark in each of our lives just as we hope we have in theirs.

Our departure from Batticaloa was 2 hours later than scheduled due to endless exit paperwork, which was not ideal with a 10 hour journey ahead of us!! Meanwhile....... Maureen and Helen spent a happy hour playing dress up at the home of Nilanthe, their playgroup teacher!

The rest of the group met up with Reverend Jothini at Wesley High School and were treated to an impromptu concert by girls who boarded at the college which was a really special parting memory.

We finally set off at 3pm and slowly wended our way towards Colombo. The journey was tedious at times, but the scenery was stunning – until it got dark! Due to the fact that we were too late to take the road across the dam for fear of people driving over the edge in the dark (!), we had to take a longer route up the mountain pass which the drivers assured us involved 18 hairpin bends, but we counted many more!! This route was even more precarious than the original with precipitous drops on each side. At one point we thought we would be spending the night there as an accident involving a lorry was blocking the road and emergency access would have been impossible. Luckily there were enough capable ‘men’ to lift the lorry back onto the road and the blockage quickly cleared (not the only one of the week!)

So we continued on our way bouncing along from pothole to pothole thus ensuring that sleep was not possible for most. Sudha told us that the road would finish soon, but we all felt that it had been finished for a while which caused a bout of exhausted hysteria! We finally arrived at Colombo at 1am to be greeted with orange juice and piped hotel lobby music. The opulence was in stark contrast to much of what we had seen. The realisation that some of the families we had met this week were living in a space not much bigger than one of our beds struck home!

After a good night’s sleep, an early morning swim (For Jo and DIlanee it was a nostalgic reminder of their first meeting in a swimming pool 17 years ago!) a hearty breakfast and a trip to the police station to report a lost camera, it was off for a little sightseeing around Colombo and a return for Dilanee and Janaki to their childhood with a visit to their 100 year old great aunt. An opportunity,too, for Helen to share in a part of Jan’s childhood. This was followed by trips to a Buddhist temple and a little retail therapy!!!

This evening we have spent a wonderful time at the home of Yasmin where we thanked our fantastic trio of drivers – our ‘daahlings’!!! This was followed by the Sri Lankan version of fish and chips – Lumprais – curry and rice wrapped in banana leaves, which was delicious!! Kate brought along her newly purchased drums and we prevailed on Ranga, Harshana and Sudha to sing some traditional songs. We responded with a pathetic rendering of ‘She’ll be coming round the mountain’ – with adapted words!!

It was then back to the hotel for cocktails, blogging and packing and this is our last group entry. And so..... the end is near!!! Some of us may add to this when we get home and we hope you will too. Thank you for reading this blog and for all your support and encouragement before and throughout this trip which has been a real help to us. If you are picking us up from the airport or are waiting at home for us please be warned we are all shattered!

Mika Nandri/Bohomo isthuthi/Thank you very much!!!!

Dilanee, Janaki, Maureen, Bron, Jo, Sharon, Helen, Amali, Kate

PS: Helen wanting to know at 2.00am.......Is it time for our showers yet..............!!