Sunday, April 23, 2017

Homeward Bound

Its time to wrap up this voyage and this long tale.  Thanks for bearing with me,  following my written journal (with the unappealing name of a "blog").    Writing it down and researching it all a bit was a way for me to share my photos and make sense of our whirl-wind experience.

 After we left  the island of Dutch Bay and those marvelous children, there were no more big adventures lined up for us. 

  We were to drive back to Colombo and stay close to the airport for an early morning departure back to our "real" lives. 

But not before one more gracious guest house , another Indian Ocean setting and a last barbecue.  We had that night to let our hair down, have a cocktail and relax before switching into the next mode....   in this case, the "rigors of travel" mode. 

If I could be teleported to a location, I would travel more.  It takes a certain amount of grim determination for me to sit for more than 13 hours on a plane in a little seat, to endure more than an hour at passport control and then get myself to still another terminal, another plane and another country.   

Looking back though, I realize that but for that last stretch in planes and airports,  it was a wonderful journey to an enchanting place. 

 Dave and I were lucky to find the right itinerary and travel company  

 Being grouped with a compatible bunch of folks who thankfully were always quick with the wisecrack and the laugh, made the difference as well. 

 Without Dee, Waruna, Mehindra and my fellow travelers, it wouldn't have been half as much fun.

  So "chapeau", as they say in France...." Hat's off to you" those who participated and to even those reading.  Thanks for your part in my dream trip to the Emerald Isle. 

  Keep me posted.   Where are you going next?  I can always dream.

Back row from left, staff (manor house), Grahame, Mrs de Silva ( Manor House owner), Oriel, Jo,(hiding) Pauline, Dave, Ian, two staff members,
Front Row, from left  : Anna, June, Mary, Pam   photo by Dee courtesy of Anna Mayall

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dutch Bay School : Part II

June, Pauline and Dee sit with primary kids,  Dutch Bay

We visit with the lower grade school children now settled in their seats.    At some point Dee and Pauline start writing the countries we represent and some of our names on the blackboard and the kids take the chalk to write their names. 

Dee writes our countries and names....Dutch Bay School

Dutch Bay School,  Sri Lanka

Dutch Bay School, Sri Lanka

I notice that we have used up all the chalk.....  but it is a good way to overcome the language barrier and the teacher stands back bemused.  She is a beautiful young teacher and I bet they are all in love with her. 

Lower grade teacher and students, Dutch Bay School, Sri Lanka

Copybook in Sinhalese,  Dutch Bay School

Dutch Bay School,  Sri Lanka

Dutch Bay School, Sri Lanka

Multiplication tables, Dutch Bay School

Pupils at Dutch Bay School, Sri Lanka

 We visit each classroom and it looks like some real learning is going on in this small schoolhouse.

Pupils at Dutch Bay, Sri Lanka

Poster in Sinhalese,  Dutch Bay School

English teacher with older pupils, Dutch Bay School

English teacher visits pupils, Dutch Bay School

Dutch Bay School,  Sri Lanka

Poster, Dutch Bay School, Sri Lanka

English Lesson book,  Dutch Bay School, Sri Lanka

The children are released for recreation as we get ready to leave.  Earlier we got a fancy jump rope demonstration by the little girl below.   I notice that the rope is the only sign of outdoor equipment for games.  They make good use of the rope for "tug of war" as well.  I imagine that it was the property of the fishermen before it found a new use. 

 This is a very low income school.  We saw much better endowed schools along the way .... especially the Muslim institutions which are helped by Muslim businessmen and have better facilities and options.   Despite this the rooms are cheerful and welcoming.

There seems little electricity available. ... no overhead fans or lights  on,  no glass in the windows....only some heavy grid to keep out the birds and let the air in.   

 Some of the children I see have very tattered state uniforms and oversized ties.   Some of the ties are just pieces attached with a safety pin. However, I notice that most everyone is clean and neat and hair is combed and braided for the girls. 

I think the six of us who chose to visit today are inspired by these lovely children who we might call disadvantaged.  Despite their  modest circumstances, I feel like these kids are going to "make it" in the world.
 They seem to have that tenacity of spirit that you don't see everyday,  that Phoenix-like quality of rising from the ashes.  

  But maybe the trick is they don't see the ashes.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Dutch Bay Primary School: First meeting

Primary Students, Dutch Bay School

Dee has promised to take us to the Dutch Bay Primary School for this area which is largely fishermen's children.    Today is the day.
 Dave and I picked up some art supplies in Nice that we wanted to bring the kids.   The rest of the gang pitched in with some exercise books they bought on the way.  Waruna offered a box of pens.  

 We took these things to the office first to be distributed by the teachers later.   It was the English teacher who showed us around the three room school as the others spoke Singhalese.  I am pretty sure that this school goes from grades 1-5. 

  Most of the children here are day students.  A few come from single parent homes where the parent is struggling with alcohol or poverty.  These live full time at a little house on the grounds with one of the teachers.    Also, some of the children's parents object to school as they feel that the child would be of more help at home although in Sri Lanka school is compulsory to grade 9 . 

 But I do get the feeling for the rest of the families school is highly valued. 

Primary Students, Dutch Bay School

The youngest of the primary children are so excited to have visitors. They spill out the doors rushing to see us, laughing and surging forward.   The teachers just let them greet us for a while and get used to looking in our cameras at their images and comparing henna on some of their hands to nail varnish on some of ours , and trying to understand each other without a common language.    

Dutch Bay School

These are enchanting children,  always touching each other but never pushing, not boisterous in that way, not loud..... so attractive and basically shy.

 Primary student, Dutch Bay School

Dutch Bay School

Pupils at Dutch Bay

 Sutdents, Dutch Bay School

Pupils at Dutch Bay School

Pupils, Dutch Bay School

Primary School , Dutch Bay, Sri lanka

Pupil at Dutch Bay, Sri Lanka

Children of Dutch Bay, Sri Lanka

It is a magical moment of exchange....  but finally the kids settle down and go back to their seats. 

Dutch Bay School,  Sri Lanka

  I had such a hard time culling this lot of photos.  I can't resist looking at these images, frankly.  Glorious kids. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spinner Dolphin boat trip

Indian Ocean beach,  photo by Dave Puckett

The next morning we are off to see if we can locate the spinner dolphins.  One of the staff at Dutch Bay has made us some rudimentary benches so he can transport us to the sea in his jeep.   We board our boats near a fisherman's hut. 

Fisherman's home on the Indian Ocean, Dutch Bay

Pauline standing while we wait to board

 But first before we start searching,  our boats must register with the authorities of animal welfare.  We land on a strip of fisherman's beach while we wait our turn. 
 Nothing better to do than look around.   There is all the business of fishing but in the middle is a policeman with his striking blue and black uniform.  He must be the one that oversees the registration and collection of fees.   I must say he is handsome. 

We then set out and it is not long before we encounter hundreds of dolphins.    I didn't really capture the thrill of it with my still camera.   Oriel just sent me some of her good photos though.  Thanks, Oriel.  And thanks Anna, too for that nice one of Dave. 

Dee and Dave up front, Jo and Anna behind

That is Dave in our partner boat, photo by Anna Mayall

photo by Oriel Sufrini

photo by Oriel Sufrini

photo by Oriel Sufrini

photo by Oriel Sufrini

photo by Oriel Sufrini

Why do they leap out of the water? ...I don't think anyone knows for sure.  What about just for fun.... and "cause they can".  

 One dolphin kept leaping out in the same place 5 or 6 times as if to say, "Dummy, get the photo will ya?"  

I have a cool video but as luck would have it , I can't get it to compress and show itself.  I will have to post that later.