Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Surf Contest

Last week we helped host the Sri Lanka Nationals, the first nation wide surfing competition in Sri Lanka. After a very rushed lead up and planning, the two day event finally got up and running. It was so good how everyone from the community pulled together in the last couple of days to make it happen. This included a couple of tourists giving of their time to film and photograph the event as well as one of the long time visiting aussies volunteering to judge.

As for me my main role was to organise the food and be a judge. I was somewhat successful in that we had breakfast and lunch provided for the contestants. My only let down was that one of the days we ended up with two restaurants providing break

fast and consequently double the amount of food than originally asked for. Somewhat of a communication breakdown. It would definitely help if cooks would talk to their managers before volunteering to sponsor a surfing event and also would help if they wouldn't nod their head when I ask if they're the manager. None the less, there was more than enough food.

As for my second job, I couldn't believe judging could be so fun. I tried to make the judging as fair as possible, rewarding those who did critical manoeuvres and give lower scores to anyone who even slightly resembled Adriano De Souzer. Thankfully no one did any double claims after performing a serious weak floaters. At the start we were told that the surf club wanted us to judge the comp because they have live here afterwards and would have to live with the repercussions of their judging. But there were not real disputes aside from a heated discussion with a spectator about not receiving a free t-shirt. Aside from that everything ran smoothly.

My highlight of the event happened on day two when there were a couple of heats which we had 5 surfers and only 4 rash guards. We decided to that one of the surfers would just surf without and we'd write down there colour as 'skin'. After announcing each surfer's colours for the next heat, the 5th surfer finally came up to the stage and asked where the skin coloured rash guard was. For some of these surfers I think it was their first competition.

Overall I think the surf club was completely stoked at the help we provided for em and I'm sure we've made some life long friendships.

Special thanks to Amir for photographing on the day and providing photos for this blog.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Small staircases, sugar milk and 70's jackets

Need to write some things down about the weekend. It was amazing. We went up to the mountains to a place called Narellia for a pastor's confernece. Who would have thought Sri Lanka could be freezing cold in their summer, but yes, yes it can. Nareallia is a nice little town up in the mountains where most of the world's tea is grown.

First of all the journey up was unreal except that our driver crashed the van on possibly the busiest round about in Sri Lanka. Other than Tyler hitting his head on the windshield and the van suffering minor damage we were good to go again. We passed through so much diverse countryside, from dry grasslands to thick lush jungle, from big developed towns to derilict towns, and then finally finished at the beautiful tea plantations village of Narellia with British buildings. Felt like a cross between somewhere in Europe and Nepal (even though I've never been there). But seriously everything is nicer up there, like greener, fresher, even the dogs look a lot nicer. The weirdest part was that its only rained once or twice down in Aragum Bay on the east coast and then you go about 150km inland and its the wet season and is absolutely freezing. As you'll see by the photos we really didn't come prepared for cold, but we were soon greeted by a hot cup of tea by the Sri Lankan pastors. Even though there was about half a cup of sugar in the pot of tea I drank it anyway. I could literally feel my teeth decomposing as I drank the sugar flavoured milk.

At night we went to town and bought some ridiculous 70's clothing to keep warm and then had curry on pancakes for dinner. The little restaurant we went to was so rad. I think my favourite experience at that restaurant was what can be described as my “journey” to the toilet. I passed through a kitchen, then up a set of stairs which was the skinnest corridor with the smallest steps I've ever seen. I think it would have been easier climbing a ladder because firstly I had to duck for the ceiling, secondly the stairs were ridiculously steep. To add to the difficulty the steps were wide enough to fit about a quarter of your foot and they were rounded on the edge for extra slipperiness. Once up the top I worked my way through another maze of a kitchen with little Sri Lankans everywhere, steam everywhere and a little kitten on the floor playing with a ball of string. Finally we finished off the day at the pastors house overlooking a valley english style houses, tea plantations and tea factories. At night I was forced to share a bed with 3 other men, none the less I was thankful to be warm...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Fins, Jelly Fish and Berries

Fins, Jelly Fish and Berries

Well the last week has been interesting. After injuring my knee surfing and the team leaving to Colombo, I thought I would have a lot of time to myself.... but not really. Kids are here 24/7! Every afternoon after school the kids come around to do some sort of repair to either their bike or their surfboard. Anyways I'm just about going crazy not being able to surf while I wait to my knee to heal. But in the mean time I've been shooting plenty of photos of the surf and filming. People tell me its character building.

One thing that I've learned since being here, is that if there's an easy way to do something, Sri Lankan's will figure it out. One of the boys snapped his fin out of his surfboard the other day and came to me asking if I had a spare. I didn't have a spare but told him I'd look round and ask friends if anyone has a cheap one. Anyways a day or two latter I think he got over waiting, because calls me over and shows me his new fin. He'd pretty much just cut away the top of the fin making two new plugs which meant the height was reduced by 1cm. It took me a minute to realise what he'd done but when I worked it out I reckon I laughed for about a minute. Having one fin smaller than the others isn't the end of the world, but I think it encapsulates the phrase 'Sri Lanka System'.

Its funny the way some of the kids sort of sneak into the property to hang with us. Like seriously some of the kids who tell everyone how bad we are, the same kids who throw rocks on our roof, are the same kids who come in and absolutely love spending time with us. They have every reason not to come and visit, and yet the joy and excitement I see on their faces when they come and hang out seems to far outweigh any reason for avoiding us. Its real good to be able to be a part of creating an environment which is loving, safe and fun. And it really is the people which make that environment. The funniest part is when they put on their Sri Lankan techno beats and get in a big circle and film each other dancing.

If anyone watched one of those tv shows or movies where the main characters travel to do a difference dimension or universe and everything sort of appears the same, but everything is done differently. Well I think that's sometimes how I feel here. I remember this game that we used to play at the beach where dad would throw the ball and we would stand in the shallow water so we could dive to the side and try catch it. So I attempted this game with a couple of the kids yesterday down by the beach because they absolutely LOVE cricket and I thought it be a big hit. Except we didn't have a tennis ball... So I guess the next logical thing to use was a jelly fish. About 40 mins later the jelly fish was still in tact and doing quite well. Same game; just done a little differently. As we were leaving I looked over and one of the kids had found a piece of string and tied the jelly fish around his neck as a necklace. Very innovative I thought.

Yesterday afternoon was the Sunday School excursion. So the pastor hired a school bus as you can see in the photo, and we went picking berry's in the jungle. Very fun afternoon, although I was a little concerned that we didn't do a head count before we left because kids were just jumping off the tractor every hundred meters or so and running off into the jungle because they'd spotted a tree full of berries. Was also concerned a wee bit concerned of something eating us. I mean one of the local men was telling us that their was a big crocodile that lived in lake, but that didn't seem too worry the kids as they ran along the water's edge and bear foot to get to their next tree. I have to say but the lack of regulations in Sri Lanka is sort of refreshing. Kids don't need forms from parents, they don't need their allergy medicine, and they don't even need shoes. In fact one kids had cut a plastic bag and put it on his head as a hat. I think he realised it wasn't working when his head was heating up like a greenhouse and his hair was soaking wet.