It was amazing to be flying over other countries that I only hear about on the news, right over Baghdad. We fly so high that there is nothing to worry about.
Some of us feared Sri Lanka airlines but we were surprised, nice plane, beautiful flight attendants, beautiful long dresses, dark hair that starts much closer down the forehead and pulled back in tight buns. Pretty emerald earrings and necklaces. Always smiling and ready to assist. Lots of good meals.
When we landed in Columbo it was warm, humid, new smells, maybe bleach used for cleaning. It took 1-2 hours to get through customs. Lots (70+) of boxes. Then outside we all paraded to get on the bus. Horns honking, people everywhere. Lots of beautiful flowers.
Prior to going outside we all gathered. Evan said "What are we here for?" We replied "to spread love". "how do we do that?" "With our smiles." And that has become our mission.
We boarded our bus, traveling on the opposite side of the road. We passed an air force base that was guarded by a men with rifles. It continued for blocks, there were walls made with sand bags that made a little fort for an armed guard. Walls with barb wire fences. Horns honking, no grass in yard, cheap hotels (which we learned had no rooms to rent only some food to sell). Not far from the airport we took a left down a very narrow road. Greenery scraping the sides of the bus. There were cows scattered here and there, stray skinny dogs. Tall palm trees, coconuts, fish ponds, we approached the farm, it is welcoming, smiling faces from the dark skinned men and women.
The structure is mainly cement white with red floor and trim, lots of bougainvillea, pink, white, purple. The cricket, frogs and other creatures are having a concert. The never take a break.
We all eat together, round tables with table clothes. Buffet style, there is hot water for tea, coffee, rice milk, curry sauce, something sweet that resembles brown sugar which was called sweet coconut, good pineapple,... It is all very tasty. After the meal we started sorting out the 70 boxes of donations. It was overwhelming. Big boxes of toothpaste, tooth brushes, shampoo,... lots of medical supplies, boxes of stuffed animals, clothes, back packs. It was amazing. We got allot done in a couple hours.
3 people stayed here from group 1. A leader from each area. We were able to spend a little time talking with them.
I got some good advice from another team member. She says don't look at the whole month, it will make you home sick. Just go day by day so you can get the most out of the experience. That will be a goal for me.