Bites, Crabs, Puppies and Coconut Man

March 4, 2008

 Helen – I can’t believe that our time on the beach is coming to an end…I will miss the morning walks and meals looking at the ocean BUT I WILL NOT MISS THE SAND FLIES!!!  You would not believe how bitten up I am, my entire body itches day and night and nothing really seems to help.  Our next location is further up north in the forest area; it should be a little cooler but hey will probably have something else that will eat me alive!!!  Here I am also able to wear shorts and tanks around the house because it is a beach area but there I will not be so lucky.


Just finishing two months and we are about half finished with the assignment.  Today is my last walking class and we should be packing up and leaving by next Thursday…I have mixed feelings about India but at least we will see the Taj Mahal and some other interesting sites before the Fulbrighters have to attend their conference.  I don’t know what I will be doing during that time.  The Fulbright office paid only for the Fulbrighters and they had to pay for their families…so Tom will have to pay about $1000 for my airfare, visa, extra person in the room, my meals and extras.  They are cheap!!!  This being the case, some Fulbrighters were not able to bring their families with them.

Today we had a few new things on the beach; seems we have something new everyday!!  Often we meet fishermen carrying their inner tubes and nets; yesterday one had caught a lobster, today it was crabs.




The five puppies are a source of amusement as Tom tries to capture their picture all together without their mother going after him.


Another new adventure was the coconut climber!!  He was paid to climb the trees and cut down the ripe coconuts (before they fell and killed someone!) and the dead branches.  He was awesome to watch; he tied his ankles together with rope; then shimmied up the tree with his long curved knife tucked at his waist.  It sounded like bombs dropping when those coconuts started hitting the ground.  When he climbed down the first tree, he cut a coconut for me so that I could drink the sweet liquid inside…I don’t really care for it…but smiled and thanked him.  I had tried one before at the market in Colombo with Ruki.  We have quite a few tree (21 just between the house and ocean) so they had a truck come to get the coconuts and branches.  Kamala (the owner’s representative), her niece (interpreter), Leela (the little short helper), and Sumanthupala (suspect in our phone disappearances) were all there as well as the climber.  Leela and Samanthupala cleaned up the yard and gathered the coconuts as Kamala and niece supervised.



I did some laundry this morning and made scones which I shared with those in the yard. They like sweets and wanted the recipe so I spent quite some time explaining how to make them.

Today was the last day with the students.  Tom had about 10 students, 7 of which were quite regular.  In his meeting with Sarath, the department Chair, he learned that the equipment in the weight room was made in Sri Lanka and consisted of every piece that was in the company brochure.  The company had no aerobic equipment for sale.  Tom showed Sarath several internet sites for companies that sell exercise equipment but it is doubtful they will have the money to purchase any.  The weight room itself was built by the Koreans and was a post tsunami donation to the university and opened just three months ago.  Tom rearranged the equipment several times to make a more efficient flow pattern and taught the students how to use each piece.  On the last day, one student was chosen to say a few words of appreciation and how happy they were to have him show them how to use their weight room (which they used haphazardly before) and the knowledge which he passed on to them.  Then they all applauded.

My last two students, Kanthi (the physics professor), and Vini (the PE instructor) attended my last class.  After I explained again how important it was to develop a regular exercise schedule, I walked the first mile with them and then they continued on their respective distance on their own.  They did an excellent job of keeping their own pace which I was really pleased to see, usually they just follow whatever pace I set.  We exchanged emails and I said if they asked I would continue to send them various workouts.

We rushed home to shower and change because we were invited to dinner at Sunny’s (one of Tom’s faculty) home.  He picked us up about 7 and then drove us to the other side of town where he lives.  His wife teaches piano at one of the schools and also gives lessons at home.  Piano and guitar are considered western music (we thought it had to do with composers!) and they explained that the other instruments were considered eastern including the violin.  We don’t really understand this classification.  His brother-in-law, his wife and their 16 year old son were also there as was his 89 year old mother.  They had the TV on and she was watching an Indian soap opera, which is broadcast every night, while we talked and began the first of many dishes.  I think the fan and our conversation were a bit disturbing for her.

Tom and Sunny drank Arrack, the national coconut whiskey, with club soda and I sipped a beer.  He brought out a lovely dish with two fish arranged with fresh tomatoes and onion rings.  He also only brought out two dishes.  We were ready to share one, when he gives one whole fish to Tom and the other to me.  His brother-in-law and his son were sitting with us but no one else was eating!!  When I finished mine, he gave me another piece of fried sear fish and then brought out another big mullet fish with the fixings and we had to try this as well.  It was very good, a white firm flesh that almost reminded you of crab or lobster.  By now it was nearing 9 o’clock and the table behind us was still laid out with our dinner as I suggested that we move to the table.  Once again there was a banquet set out: rice, shrimp curry, fish curry, boiled vegetables, pasta fish casserole, lettuce-tomatoes-cucumber-onion salad plate, and waffles.

We were baffled again because only two place settings were set.  Sunny sat and talked with us as his wife brought out a pureed mushroom soup to begin our food marathon.  We kept asking for the others to join us but they replied that they don’t eat this late at night; funny thing is that we don’t either.  We explained that we couldn’t eat all this food but that we would have some of each dish and at that it was difficult to eat so much food.

 We had brought red wine and cakes (chocolate zucchini and scone).  They loved the chocolate cake and shared that in the kitchen while we ate in the dining area with Sunny. When we finally put our knives and forks down, dessert was brought out; it included fresh pineapple slices and a delicious trifle with two puddings, cake, and jello.  It was very colorful and even though I was stuffed, I had to have two helpings of it.  They also gave us two appliquéd pillow cases which were made by one of her students.

We arrived home about 10 feeling overstuffed and wondering how we were going to sleep.  I was up at 3:30 with an upset stomach but settled again after that.  Poor Tom was up several times with the bites/welts on his legs from the morning walk.  We are in constant agony with the itching so we decided not to walk this morning.

One comment

  1. i HOPE you leave the sand flies there and dont bring them home to colonize in springfield…
    you could bring one of those pups home though.

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