Today is my last day volunteering, its pretty hard to think that my three weeks here has escalated to this point, and in the heat of my learning I have to say farewell to the people that have taught me so much. However, today was not just a day for reminiscing and reflection, because after all I still had one more day to leave my mark on this tiny temple in Hanguranketha, Sri Lanka.
The most meaningful part of today (and maybe the whole trip) was during volunteering today, Fernando and I did our normal routine of going with the painters to paint, then sneaking to the construction in order to do actual hard work. A man who we would always work with came to me and asked if I would be here next week, unfortunately I had to say no. To my surprise he said, “Then I want to give you this.” He then presented me with his hammer, beat up and used beyond repair. He said that it is no good to use because of how old it is, but it can be a token of gratitude from him to me because of my working so hard.
Last night after getting back to the temple, and writing on this electronic diary, I went to talk with the monks. The monks (not knowing how to speak English) and I (not knowing how to speak Sinhala) got into great conversation. It was pretty much a game of Charades and Spirituality. As we were sitting the makeshift conversation got to be a little awkward so I asked why they shaved their heads. One monk spoke up and said, “To let go of our attachments." Immediately after the one who answered translated what I asked to the rest of the group they insisted that I shave my head.
I thought about it that night, and today I did it. I shaved my head. I did it not only to let go of my attachments as the monks said, but to accept the nature of the temple culture and live what I want to learn.
I have decided to go to the hospital today because I’m feeling awful, and I really don’t want to play around if it is Dengue Fever. So I need to get blood tests at a proper medical facility. The hospital was nothing close to a hospital, but it did it’s job. Turns out I don’t have Dengue Fever, so thats good, but also the doctor didn’t tell me what I had, he just gave me some new medicine, and it is working pretty well.
Speechless. Last night was the longest night of my entire life. I don’t really know where to start, or when everything happened, but I’ll do my best to piece it together as accurately as possible.
First we went to bed, and about an hour went by of tossing and turning until I decided that I should try to get to the bathroom. Too bad I forgot to ask where the bathroom was in the temple, but how hard is it to find a bathroom? Hard. Like really hard. But all was well because after an hour of searching I found the bathroom.
Second, picture this - I had been not sleeping all night, I've no clue why, but I just could not sleep; finally I start to drift to sleep… drift a little more, and then I’m out…. “Puta Madre!” yelled Fernando waking me up and jumping on to my bed. Pointing at his bed and yelling monkey, Fernando was not messing around, there was seriously a monkey in the room, so I managed to find my phone, turn on a flashlight, and point it at the bed across from me. But no monkey. Fernando hysterically crying at this point was desperately convinced that there was a monkey on his bed. So we then got up and shuffled to the door, turned on the lights and searched for the mysterious midnight monkey. No monkey. I will give Fernando a hard time everyday for this that I am with him until I die because after this experience there was no more sleep. Bathroom Hunt from 12:30-1:30, Monkey at 4:00, and wake up for prayers and meditation at 5:00.
Today was rough, not only due to my lack of sleep, but also I’m starting to feel really sick again. This time its a little worse than last, and the doctor at the small “office” in Hanguranketha said that I could “easily” have Dengue Fever. We will see though.
This is the first night in the temple. I am extremely excited for this next week. Also it is quite amazing that we got this opportunity at this point in time because back at the other house, 14 new volunteers have moved in; not only is that huge a huge new group of volunteers, but also this group is a special group ranging from ages 13-15. So basically the nice quiet vibe of Hill Country house, has just been rushed back to middle school. It’s ok because I hear that there is a new couple forming.
Food Poisoning - I guess. The doctor was super vague when he said what I had, a direct quote would be, “umm you have poison in stom-umm-ach or…” and that’s it, he even cut off in the middle of the “or…” he the preceded to tell me that he was going to give five different medicines. Whatever. I feel so much better I don’t really care. I’m not 100% today, but it is close enough for me.
Back at the temple we taught monks English, painted walls, and I took time to ask the Chief Monk if he would give me a lesson on Buddhism. Well one thing led to another, and he asked my friend Fernando and I if we would like to live in the temple next week. The answer was yes, obviously. That means that for the ret of my time in Sri Lanka, I will be living, praying, eating, and learning with Buddhist Monks. I could not have asked for more from this experience.
In the morning I couldn’t stand not volunteering so, I said that I was fine and went to the temple. After a while I couldn’t stop feeling nauseous; I guess our coordinator noticed that I did not look good at all, because she told that it would be best if I just went back to the house. Today has been a little bit worse than the other days. So I set a doctor’s appointment for tonight.
I think I'm going to log off for today; I'll write about the appointment tomorrow.
Hill country is amazing. Imagine being on the side of a mountain and all that you can see is mountains around you. Well, that’s where I am. Not only the place is breathtaking - the temple, community, and other volunteers are just as amazing. Here at the Hanguranketha house we always joke around that we are one big family, sharing meals and stories.
The temple is more of its own town than a simple place of worship. The temple’s community has farmers, cooks, monks, and students. Everyone contributes what they can and in return they are given what they need. It is a beautiful mutualistic symbiosis. The "town" is made up of many buildings such as the kitchen, eating area, main temple, and dormitories for studying monks. Having the opportunity to be a part of this community is incredible. The monks are very welcoming, and always want to thank you for the work you are doing.
All during renovation today I was feeling a little bit sick in my stomach, and even now - few hours later - I’m sitting in bed, and it still hasn’t let up. So I think I’m going to sleep, and I hope its better in the morning.
For a tiny island you would think that it would be quick and easy to get to one side to the from the other. Well, it’s no easy task. To get from Kandy, in the center of the island to Mirissa, a beach on the south side, took 6 hours. 6 hours. It was actually insanity. Was it worth the six hours? Yes.
Mirissa is an amazing place, it is this huge crescent shaped beach that makes you feel like there is no one is anywhere close to you.
There is not too much to write for this weekend. We swam, surfed, and had a good time during our beach weekend.
On a side note, I am really glad that I have had this opportunity to travel and explore Sri Lanka, but I am more excited to start volunteering next on Monday. The people are why I’m here, and now I want to start helping them.