A trip to the mountains (days 7 & 8)
They said to me “You are the first missionary to preach in our village since the British built it 160 years ago”. Many of the children had never seen a white face before. But before we come to that, there was the city, the ocean and the wedding.
On Tuesday we had a (mostly) day off to rest. In the afternoon we investigated Trincomalee, the main city in the area. Here is the high street:
You can pretty much buy anything you would at Canadian stores, except the stores are tiny with packed shelves and very attentive staff who can usually manage some English. If you decide not to buy, they will always try and do a deal.
But there is a big food chain called Food City with clean air-conditioned aisles that is not too different to a Canadian store except the food prices are much lower, especially the fruit.
In the evening, when it was cool enough to move out of the shade, we went for a swim in the ocean, and then went for a meal at a restaurant. Up till now we had been eating with local people, or at roadside stopping places, and it was a shock to see how tourists live. There was such a gap between them and the people we have been living with and visiting.
The day began early as we set off on our 3-day trek to the south.
We had been invited to a wedding in the morning, which was on the way, and ended up being guests of honour and taking part in the service.
We were seated with the bride and groom at the head table. There were no eating utensils, so we had to eat Sri Lanka style—with our fingers. The bridgroom saw how much I was struggling with the rice, so he gave me a lesson in how to eat with your fingers.
Anne had been dressed in a Sari and top (custom made for her by a local seamstress) and I wore the shirt that Joji & Rama brought back from India for me (which caused some surprise—“where did you get a shirt like that?”).
Here is a short clip from the wedding:
The drive to the southern mountains of Sri Lanka took 5-6 hours. The scenery was spectaculary beautiful, and at first the roads were good:
But then they began to deteriorate as the climb got steeper. (Sorry about the unsteady video clip—it was a bumpy ride.)
The last couple of hours were on small steep winding roads as we climbed into the mountains. Often there was a near-vertical drop and no guard rail. Sometimes there was on-coming traffic and we had to squeeze past each other. Nobody wanted to sit in the front—it was too stressful.
Finally we reached the point we were heading for, but the village was not on the road, but far below in a deep valley. It was dark as we drove down steep tracks for half an hour. They were constantly twisting back and forth with a sheer drop at each corner. Finally we had to park the vehicle and walk the remaining distance.
We took a picture the next day from the other side of the valley. Half way down of the left-edge of the picture, you can see a van at the place where we parked. The photo does not quite capture how steep the slopes are.
There was a little church, started by a man from the village who had made contact with us. The house only had two tiny rooms and is rented to them by the tea company. All the people in these villages live by picking tea, and earn only $3.00/day. They can’t go on strike because there is no other work.
We met a young man who told us that he was the only person in four generations to complete highschool. He has now come back to the villages to teach. The children have to walk long distances to get to school.
The people gathered and I brought them a message on the houses on rock and sand, which of course was translated. (They have a lot of problems with torrential rain eroding the sandy soil.) They had made a meal for us and we were very touched by their warm welcome.
They said to me “You are the first missionary to preach in our village since the British built it 160 years ago”. Many of the children had never seen a white face before.
Even though they are so poor they were very hospitable. I hope that we can make a difference in their lives. Our team is doing economic development as well as supporting these small isolated churches.