Simon Cawley - Culture & Community, Tsunami Recovery in Sri Lanka
I had a lot of fun in Sri Lanka but first I'm going to tell you about the work I was doing. I was on the Tsunami Recovery project at Hikkaduwa. Our day would start at around 7.30am when we would get up and eat mounds of toast and a bucket full of coffee to give us the energy to work hard through the morning. Then we would ride the 4km to the site on bikes that were provided.
Once at work we would do a variety of different jobs like building roads, helping the brick layers, building foundations, digging cesspits, painting the houses and generally helping anyway we could. When at work the families that you are building the houses for live next to the site in wood huts and take really good care of you. They keep bringing you tea or will go up a coconut tree for you. They also cook you lunch which always consists of rice and curry and can be very tasty. We normally worked through to about 5pm but if you had things to do you could go earlier
One of the big advantages of staying in Hikkaduwa is that it is the old hippie hang out and party town of Sri Lanka. There is everything you could need there, like dirt cheap internet access (1 rupee a minute), shops that sell western luxuries that you might miss, big hotels that for a small fee will let you use their swimming pool all day if you want a bit of luxury (Coral Gardens is the best), moped hire if you don't want to use a bus when travelling around the island and lots of bars and a night-club (called Vibrations). The nightlife can be really crazy there especially from November to May so if you want to work hard and play hard Hikkaduwa is the place to be.
The host family consists of 3 generations and lots of dogs all living in one house. There is a separate building for volunteers to stay in so you don't need to worry about having a curfew.
There is also lots of other stuff to see and do in Sri Lanka on the weekends like white water rafting, elephant rides, surfing, beach parties, seeing ancient sites, going to national parks and seeing leopards if you are lucky, or go and try wake boarding or water skiing at Bentota where you can also go on a boat trip looking for crocodiles. All in all there is loads of stuff to do but don't take my word for it, go experience it yourself!