Thursday 26th August by Laura
Today was a special day as Nic, Abi, Rach and I accompanied the children and families from Rassandenyia on a school trip to the zoo in Colombo. After getting up at 4.20am, we began our journey to Colombo in true Sri Lankan style - over 40 children and adults crammed into every available inch of room in a minibus made for 18!! However, nobody seemed to mind and spirits were high. Not long into the journey, the women began singing Sinhalese love songs. The teacher, Felicita explained that they do not normally sing in their homes but were singing today because they were happy. It made listening to their songs even more beautiful.
After stopping of to visit a large Buddhist temple complex situated on a picturesque river not far from Colombo, we arrived at the zoo a little before 10am. We were all glad that the journey was over and we could stretch our legs after such a long time travelling in the minibus. The children were really excited as we queued to get into the zoo. I was very surprised to find that the zoo was quite large with a large range of different animals from across the globe. The giraffes were particularly popular with the children, as were the zebra. When we stopped for lunch, I was really touched to find that the families had each contributed some food to provide us with a picnic lunch of cold rice and curry, which was much tastier than it sounds!
The families on the trip were all keen to stay for the animal performances at the end of the afternoon. We arrived early for the sea lion show and found some good seats. The sea lion was very entertaining to watch whilst we waited as it seemed to bask in the attention of the audience. Without the trainer being present, it performed a number of belly slides, flips and jumps of its own volition. It also climbed to the top of the slide where it posed for quite some time before launching down the slide to the delighted applause of everyone watching. It was more amusing to watch it perform of its own accord then the subsequent orchestrated show that followed. The children really liked the dancing elephants display at the end of the day, but I found it quite sad to watch. It was obvious that they were performing under duress and did not enjoy it in the same way as the sea lion.
When we arrived back in Matara late that night, we were tired and stiff but had really enjoyed a special day on the school trip. From talking to the women, I learnt a lot about village life and Sri Lankan culture and I have made some lovely friends that I hope to remain in contact with.
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