13 september Dickwella (SRI LANKA)

[Nick]: "In the morning we come back to our resort... We spend all day long splashing in the Indian Ocean!

Then we move to Matara to the Belgian's house. It's almost the sunset, there is a wonderful view from the terrace of their house. Tonight our dinner will be prepared by Lakshman's wife, the Belgian's tuk tuk driver. I'm really excited because tomorrow we are going to do some real volunteering service at the "Tea Estate", where Ann is running a project to help misfit children".

This morning we have had, for the first time, the bath in the Ocean. I still can't believe that only three years ago there has been a huge tragedy here. It's crazy if we think that last night, scared, we escaped because we were afraid of a new tsunami, and now we were challenging it doing "body surfing"!

After this bath here, this year (2007) I had a bath in all the Oceans: Pacific one (Panama) and Atlantic (Mexico)!

I will never forget when it started raining. The usual tropical thunderstorm, but intense, and we were keeping on playing and joking in the water!

Anyway I have to say that when the fishermen were coming back from their fishing, screaming as crazy: "Tsunami, tsunami!". I got a bit worried!

Ann is a 40s woman who has been working here in Sri Lanka for seven months so far. She's working for a project that deals with the teaching in the schools. She's doing something great!

Just out of curiosity, at dinner, among all the very spicy things (curry is everywhere) we tasted for the first time some piece of shark!

 

14 september Hulangawa (SRI LANKA)

We wake up at 6.30 to have a bath in the stormy Ocean! Early in the morning the Ocean is amazing!

[Nick]: "The first school we visit is: the "Mountain School", a school attended (what a word) by Tamil children, orphans or non-existent. Many of them, in fact, don't figure in any register, don't have a birth certificate and this because neither their parents have never had that! They are as ghosts. Ann says that if you kill one of them or a dog with your car along a road, is the same thing.

Many of them don't go to school despite of the controls and the insistence of Ann... Here there is the obligation of studying till 16 years old, but at six or seven years old they are already working in the hard tea plantings...

I can't describe what I felt watching these wonderful children, they have filled my heart of joy.... These are feelings that, alone, worth an entire journey! Incredible! These are kids that don't have a ground where to play, they play among the tea plantings that stand out all around them!

We played football in a lane: me, Mark and all of them. It has been the best match ever played!

During a photo, one of them (Decumar) held me so tight as I was something precious, something from whom he didn't want to get separated! I saw him just once but he has already entered my heart! That kid so lively, cheerful, with the desire of doing many things even if he was surrounded by "nothing" and with a future that depends on Ann and people like her...

Those kids have given me a lot today ..

While we were going away, "Nontienenada" (all of them have unpronounceable names that's why we called with names that sounded as more as similar to theirs!), took my hand, and proud, brought me to our tuk tuk.

Good luck kids. I hope that, if there's a real justice... you will grow up very well!"

Today we have lived one of those days that you can see in the National Geographic documentaries or you can read in the "Doctors without borders" reportages!

Entering with a shy tuk tuk in inaccessible places, climbing a mountain surrounded by tea plantings and make out in the nowhere: a hut, four poor walls in the middle of nowhere, there, where a Belgian woman: Ann, is giving a smile and maybe a hope to a group of wonderful children who belong to a so hated ethnia in Sri Lanka.

I will never forget their expressions when they saw us appearing suddenly there, the weeping of a little baby scared by these "white" people, the big eyes of the little guys excited to play at something "tough", something just for "little men", considering that we were the first guys visiting that school! You could see them running and taking the football, the cricket bat, the little ball to play, in a very narrow lane surrounded by tea plantings.

There are things, images that you can't easily forget!

Every single movement of ours was studied, analyzed by their lively eyes, as we were some model to imitate. Just as when I lift the collar of my T-shirt and "Nontienenada" was looking at me curiously, as to mean: "What are you doing?" And I, ready: "Macho in this way. Playboy!" Two seconds later you could see all of them, vain, with their collars up who felt more important!

They were so tender, always around us, each sinlge step they were ready to take our hands...

Ann was "interviewing", I mean, she was teaching teachers the methods of instructions for the children, how to prevent the commonest illness and many other things. In three weeks, after seven months, she will come back to Belgium to her husband and her beloved three daughters. What a woman! Strong, determined, always smiling and ready to solve all the unforeseen that happen here everyday, as when, while we were sleeping in Matara, suddenly a rain storm flood her room, Veerle and her ran to our room to make sure that everything was all right, laughing, while I was looking, admired, these women who never felt defeated, actually she smiled about that, she turned to me and said: "That's Sri Lanka!" I heard talking about people like this only in adventure books!

 

In Matara after all the adventures in tuk tuk, we decide to have dinner in our resort.

Anil (Lucky's brother) takes us there with his new van. He had just bought it (used by ten years, but as he kept on saying, tenderly, it was his life dream!), and in order to inaugurate it, he needed a so called: "good hand"! Is there any better one than a "white one"?

 

Buddhists believe in "luck". Lucky explained me that, before doing an important thing, they consult the stars, the horoscope... So, we, with our "good hands", their relatives, around ten people who, happy to be with some white, were waving everyone, we go to our resort!

As it often happens, where there is little or nothing, it is easier to find a lot.

15. september Matara (SRI LANKA)

This morning we have visited Dondra lighthouse.

It's the Southeast edge of the island. After Dondra there is Antarctic!

In the evening we leave to Colombo to take Veerle to the airport.

We travel all night long in their proud van!

I saw things never seen before in Sri Lanka. All the little towns with no electricity, the women who were going out the temples with the torches, the deafening megaphones of the temples which, as the Islamic minarets, broadcast with their monotonous sounds, their prayers around all the city.

Many times Lucky turned to me asking, worried: "Everything all right, sir? Am I doing a good job? Am I an excellent driver?" They always want to be cuddled!

 

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