When enough is enough

Regarding the money: we will not send you any money. If you are looking for economic help you need to find someone else.

Usually I prefer to be polite and nice when writing letters, but today I had enough and went for the very clear line above.

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We payed for this roof repair

Since leaving Sri Lanka we have kept an e-mail conversation going between us and “our” Sri Lankan family. They asked us for money (€500) to celebrate their New Year in April, and last week we recieved another e-mail where they asked for money to buy a three-wheeler/tuktuk.

Living in the Western world, under circumstances not  possible to compare to how the locals in Weligama live, it was very hard for us in the beginning not to give money every day when we were there. But bit by bit, we learned about the culture, their habits and thought a lot about what actually would help in the long run.
And sorry to say; giving money is most likely not a long-term solution for people in a developing country.

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Some fishing boats are owned by Europeans

When speaking to help-organizations and finding out how they work, it’s seldom money but education that helps over time.
For us, it seemed like teaching English to  locals was a good thing – when they speak better English, it’s easier for them to go into the tourism industry that’s about to boom.

Another thing would be to talk about saving money, to have a small amount at hand when something unpredictable happens (or when the rain period comes, as it does every year). Many people in the villages live from day to day. Regarding teaching people about economy, we got stuck in language difficulties. As we did when having ideas of different ways to make money.
So it seemed to always come back to the language.

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Food market in Sri Lanka

Anyways, today I decided to be very clear about our view of sending money. Usually Anders and I discuss this before sending, but today I just had enough and wrote an answer directly.

We are now realizing why some people asked us in the beginning if these family members were taking such good care of us just because they wanted our money. Many Westerners have had experiences like ours, and ended up giving, giving, giving. And I would prefer to actually help the development in some way, maybe by finding some good material for learning English that we could send them. Perhaps something on DVD so they not only read but also can hear the language.

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The English memory game I made for practice with village girls

Today I practice saying ‘no’ when enough is enough.
//Wivan

Talkative tuktuk drivers

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Tuktuk ride to town

Imagine sitting in a slightly windy spot where traffic is all around and a big bus passes right next to you. Honking horns, people waving and in the middle of this: someone, with his back turned towards you, talking in broken English. He’s asking questions about what country you are from, where you stay, how long you’re staying in Sri Lanka and all of a sudden an odd question about going to a snake farm.

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Shopping from the bread tuktuk

This is what a lot of tuktuk rides are like. A kind of game, where you try to guess what question you’re supposed to answer, or asking three times over what he asked last…
It’s really bad if it’s a “disco tuktuk” with large speakers playing loud music, and a driver who’s about to hit every moving object on the road.

A taxi ride in Europe will be like a quiet walk in the park after these months in Asia!

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Anders so wanting to buy a tuktuk!

Surprises, we love surprises

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Two year old boy, happy to have his picture taken

The past week has been filled with all kinds of surprises. Mostly good surprises. We’ve been invited to people’s homes for tea, taken out on little tours around the village and in the surrounding area, been out on a fishing boat twice, played with children, swimming with a turtle, bought fresh seafood while snorkeling with fishermen, laughing with new friends, surfing and learned a bit of Sinhala. All those good surprises happen without any planning, we find ourselves in situations we could never have imagined in beforehand. And it’s good fun!

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Wiva, Andrew and Mona in the tuktuk

Yesterday we went for a tour that our friend/”brother”/surf teacher/tour guide Mona had invited us to. When we got into the tuktuk we realized we didn’t really know what we were going to see or what was going to happen along the tour. Something about tea and batik we had understood, and therefor we were quite surprised when the first stop was at a gem, stone and jewelry factory! Nice to see, and after the salesmen tried to sell us expensive jewelry for €1800, we did actually buy a ring to replace my wedding ring that doesn’t fit in this tropical heat. A thin silver ring with a tiny pink stone to remind of Sri Lanka. This one was €15 which more suited our budget.

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Simple, pretty silver ring

After that first stop we drove through beautiful green landscape with rice fields, coconut trees, mountains in the distance, passing small villages, fruit stands along the road and rubber plantations. Next stop was at Galaboda tea plantation where we had a nice tour of the plantation, the factory and then had a tea tasting. The two of us enjoyed the tea tasting of different black and green teas, but the Tuktuk Man and Mona thought the teas weren’t that good without sugar… Most Sri Lankan people like to drink their tea with sugar in it.

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Organic tea plantation

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Tea factory

Another good surprise yesterday was that we’re becoming more and more close to the Sri Lankan family we’ve spent a lot of time with the past week, so yesterday the boys started to make a lot more jokes and laughed with us. We really like that!

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Woman working in tea factory

After the not-sweet-enough tea tasting we took off to a batik factory. Wow! That was a colorful time! And it was nice to see the many steps of making these beautiful batik clothes, bed sheets and decorations.

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Playful pictures

We did buy some clothes at very good prices at the factory, and when leaving we also were encouraged to give the tour guiding lady some tips. Sometimes it is so hard to know how much to give, and yesterday it was clear that 100 Rupees were not enough, her face expression said it all, so we gave 200 and that was apparently a little better.

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Batik clothes drying outside

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Making patterns with hot wax

After the tour and a late lunch at the family’s house, we got another surprise we never would have imagined, first we got invited by a man on the street to see the house he and his family and friends are working on and that he and his future wife will live in. He then invited us to come to the wedding at the house on Friday! He asked us to promise to come, and his friends said they were hoping we would come and that no presents were needed. Of course we want to go, and we said yes and again decided to extend our stay here in Weligama!

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Friendly people giving us coconut water

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Niece and nephew of the groom

Our “plan” at the moment is to head up north to Colombo in the beginning of next week to extend our visas and then go to Negombo where we have a house sit booked.
Who knows what will happen, plans change and surprises might come along the way!

Take care and enjoy whatever surprises today might bring.
//Wivan

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Wax decoration in batik factory

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Sewing in the batik factory

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Coloring

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Coloring in buckets

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Heating away the wax and rinsing the clothes

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Anders buying a sarong

Quick update from Sri Lanka

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Slow days at the beach

Let’s see if it’s even possible to post something on the slow internet we’re currently on.

Slow, in a good way, is another way to describe this beautiful and curious island.
We are staying close to a small town in the south, Weligama, and the beaches are lovely, water is warm, sunny all day long. Food delicious (takes a long time to get it, and it’s always worth waiting for), people are nice and our current stay is not in our liking.

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Prison window of our room

Tomorrow we’re moving to another place close by but a bit higher standard (like no ants in the room), and very close to the beach.

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Shade is welcome these days

Tomorrow morning I have a surf date with a local guy, and who knows how that will be – promise to keep you posted. I am by no means a good surfer and by accepting his offer to help me I am taking a huge jump out of my comfort zone.

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Local on the beach

The train ride from Colombo down to Weligama, and the tuktuk rides are stories of their own.
Lots of waves and sunshine!
//Wivan and Anders