Sri Lanka: And Then There Were Three...

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Six Weeks of Pure Stupidity!!

Hello Everyone!! I hope that all is well and that you are all preparing for next week's heat wave. How fun. Anyways. I just wanted to wrap up my blogging, seeing that our six weeks of madness is coming to an end. It is Saturday, 7/29, in Sri Lanka and I will be coming home on Monday. So the purpose of this blog is to bid adieu to the country which gave me the most rashes and health problems ever in my life, better known as Sri Lanka. This blog is also to express my feelings about the trip in general, as well as my traveling companions, Mike and Blair (and Bro. Augustine, who has been here for some time now, but I've been forgetting to include him in my blogs). Sorry Bro. So I hope all of you have gone to the bathroom and grabbed a snack because this is going to be a little long. Shall we begin?? I think so.

Let's start with Mike, Blair and Bro...
I don't know what would be the approriate words to describe three of the most inappropriate people I have ever met. So with that said, I am going to let all of you decide.

The following are just some of the crazy things they've said:

"I remember you...I saw Patrick and thought who's that girl stratteling Patrick." --Blair

Melissa: "Mike, what do crickets eat?"
Mike: "Puerto Ricans."

"Wow. You've got the whole food chain in your room--Puerto Ricans, Crickets, Gekos." --Blair

"Man, these kids are spending their life savings on you...Ma, can I borrow $100? I'll pay you back right before you die!" --Blair

(Scenario: We've just finished dinner and getting ready for our second round of dessert...well, at least Mike and Blair are. As Mike scoops the not yet defrost ice cream, the Mango Madness jumps up and hits him in the neck...)
"I've been hit; avenge my death." --Mike

"This is like a ghetto commercial of Monistat." --Blair

I know what you are all thinking. How did I manage to survive with these people, particularly Mike and Blair for six weeks? I don't know. But I'm glad that I did. Mike and Blair, I love you guys. I wouldn't have had survived in Sri Lanka for six weeks if you two weren't my partners in crime, and you both know that is the truth. Mike, I think you and I have grown closer as friends and I am very happy about that because you are one of the greatest guys I know. Blair, I think that you and I have become very good friends and I cannot wait until you come back to New York. Nevertheless, I think it's safe to say that we laughed a lot, got on each other's nerves, and really enjoyed each other.

Bro. Augustine. You are one crazy guy. I am convinced that you and Bro. Rob are not really brothers. I know you remember every joke you craked and every wise ass comment you mumbled, so I won't bother to include it in the blog. But I am very happy that you were the one to accompany us on this trip and proud of the fact that you were one of the people who taught me how to be a teacher. Thank you.

And lastly...

Dear Sri Lanka,
This time around was very interesting. And I am going to keep it real: I am and was always ready to come home. This time around was longer, more tedious, more stressful, sometimes annoying, but memorable no doubt. I honestly don't know if I'll return but I am very appreciative that I had this opportunity and very thankful for this learning experience. I feel very strongly about this program and will encourage other members of Manhattan College to partake in it. I learned more about myself, both as an individual and as a teacher--and Sri Lanka was responsible for this. I also want to thank the following people for all of their assistance with this trip: Dean Merriman, Casey, Neil, all of the Old Boys (just to name a few: Ravi, Felix, Rohan, Lasantha, and Dudley), Bro. Granville, Mr. Ananda Perera, St. Benedict's College, all of my grade 9 (even those little terrors), Bro. Rajan, Bro. Augie of Sri Lanka, Bro. Augie of New York, and last but certainly not least, my Mike and Blair. We made this trip what it was because we worked our asses off. You both were my support group and you both are my family!

Ms. Melissa Crespo

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I've got ants in my pants...

Hello Everyone!! I hope all is well with all of you because I, on the other hand, am feeling very antsy. I have ants in my pants. Not literally--I had to clarify being that I have had a lot of things happen to me while in Sri Lanka, such as numerous rashes and bug bites. So yeah, I have ants in my pants, meaning I am itching to go home. Don't get me wrong, I like Sri Lanka, but I have been here for six weeks (not four) and I am ready to go home. I mean, I love teaching. I have to love it if I am going to make a career out of it. However, I am really craving a summer vacation with my friends and family. So home is where I belong.
Furthermore, this past weekend, Mike, Blair, and I went to Pineapple (or whatever the place is called) with Bro. Granville to see more damn elephants. (No offense Sri Lankans, but after almost being attacked by one, I did not want to spend my free time with more elephants.) "Oh, but these elephants are tamed," according to one naive Sri Lankan who will remain anonymous. Really?? Are they really?? Are animals like tigers, bears, and elephants--such large and potentially dangerous animals--ever really tamed? But whatever. We did not get attacked, so all in all it was a success!
So yeah, in a nutshell: home is calling my name. And though parting from Sri Lanka will be bittersweet, it is time for me to be oooooouuuuuutttttttt!!!!

P.S. I was in dire need of more disposable cameras (Mami, I should have listened to you and brought all of the cameras) and these Sri Lankan stores are trying to charge me 1,400 rupees (14 bucks is the equivalent) for it. Are you _____ kidding me??? I don't even pay 14 bucks in America for disposable cameras. Key word: DISPOSABLE! I mean, I wanted to capture the memories on photo paper, but for 1,400 rupees, I'll keep the memories in the back of my mind!!

Am I irritated??? Can you tell that I am irritated???

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

C'mon, which situation is worse?

Hello Everyone! I hope that you all are well and that everyone is having an enjoyable summer. As you all know, I am spending my summer teaching in Sri Lanka. The plan, originally, was to spend six weeks in the country and just teach. Just teach. Well, that was the plan. But we all know that not everything can go according to plan. And this is where I think I'll begin my story. It's no secret. I came here to teach. And only teach. I didn't come to Sri Lanka to see the sights (I did that in January) and get a tan (I already have a permanent one). But that's what happened this past weekend. We, the crazy trio, ventured out and experienced a great deal of extraordinary occurrences. For starters, Mike, Blair and I decided to take a trip to Uda Walawe. This is a place known for its jungle safari. So with the help, or should I say no help at all, from our driver who took us to Hikkaduwa the prior weekend, we independently planned our trip for a jungle safari. Now, keep in mind as you read, this trip was planned by amaeturs. So after our driver gave us the number of a guy named Lashantha, who as he said, "will take care of you," we called the number and made our hotel arrangements and reservations for a safari jeep. We left on Saturday afternoon, after our Saturday school session. And guess what. We weren't driven to Oochi Wali Wali. No No. We took the bus. That's right--public transportation. Look, don't judge me. I know what you are all thinking. "Oh, look at Melissa, she thinks she's a princess because the Sri Lankans treat her like royalty." Right? Wrong. Ladies and gentlemen, I am from New York. Bronx, New York. Public Transportation is the only way to get around. But excuse me if a girl likes to get pampered once in a while. So yes. I like to get driven around and I was expecting to be driven to this place. But we took the bus. And what a long bus ride it was. We left the bus station at about 1:30pm and didn't arrive at Obi-Wan Kenobi until 6:00pm. Pretty bad, right? I know. But it gets better. So we are at the location and now we must get to our hotel. Like our driver said, "Lashantha will take care of you." So we called Lashantha. And five minutes after the call, someone, not Lashantha, came to pick us up--one of Lashantha's friends. He took us to our hotel, if you could call it that (don't worry, I'm going to tell you all about the hotel), via trishaw. That's right, I'm a princess and I want my proper ride--trishaw wasn't what I expected. So we're headed to the hotel, which happens to be 5 miles down the road. Did we really need a trishaw? I could've raced the trishaw and made it there before it did. But whatever--we get to the hotel...

Welcome to the Hotel California. Yup. That's what is was. Okay, I'm exaggerating. It was more like Hotel California meets Hotel Rwanda. It was not a hotel. It was a house. And not just any house--the house of Lashantha's three male friends (devoted followers of Spongebob Square Pants). Now, it really doesn't take much to please me, but c'mon. Somebody's house. I stood in somebody's house--emphasis on the some body. We rented a room. One room. With two beds. And three people, of which two are female. Okay. You all get the point. Needless to say, the three of us had a good time.

Okay, now let's move on to the three men who lived in the hote..excuse (Though Lashantha made his appearance, these three men are so much more interesting. So, I'm going to talk about them.) Well, there were three of them and they were nice. They had pictures on the walls in their room of themselves and male Calvin Klein models. Call me crazy, I mean, I'm not a rocket scientist, but I think they were gay. Now, I don't have a problem with people who are homosexuals. Some of my good friends are gay. But in Sri Lanka, that kind of activity is prohibited. It is against the law to engage in homosexual activities here. But I just wanted to put it out there for the people who read my blogs: the three men who let us stay in their home were extremely hospitable, friendly, and gay. So, c'mon is homosexuality really that bad?

Ok. Let's move on before the Sri Lankans put out a warrant for my arrest.

The next day...
After the most uncomfortable sleeping experience, but one of the best nights I ever had at a place, we woke up at 6:00 am for the safari ride. Now, I'm going to cut to the chase. Literally. We arrived at the safari park at about 7:00am and paid 20 bucks each, not including the price of the jeep rental (by the way, I'm still pissed about that), to see wild animals in their natural habitat--did I mention that these animals were wild--attack 3 dumb Americans. That's right!! This weekend we were almost killed! I paid 20 bucks and then some for my almost death warrant. This big ass elephant tried to attack our jeep and we almost died. Thankfully, however, our safari tour guide yelled something in Sinhalese to it and it left. But after the shock of the experience, I came to a realization: it wasn't the elephant's fault. It's an elephant in the wild. That's what it does. It didn't go crazy, it went elephant. We, on the other hand, were the crazy ones--visiting, or rather, bothering wild elephants in their home. What the .... were we thinking?!? But like I said, we survived it.

Unfortunately, there was another tsunami in Indonsia that killed over 300 people. Though tsunamis are natural disasters and bound to happen, it is a sad situation. But c'mon, which situation is worse? (Natural disasters that happen to people who do not know when to expect it and can do nothing about it or three foolish Americans who chose to play with wild elephants?)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I's been awhile

Hey Everyone! I'm sorry I have kept you all on the edge of your computer seats but I have been sooooo tired. I know. I know. That is a lame excuse. But it is my excuse. Today, over here in Sri Lanka, it is about 8:15 pm and thankfully the week is almost over. I love teaching (don't get me wrong) but I am exhausted. This past weekend we went to Hikkaduwa, which is a city on the Southern coast of Sri Lanka. It is where the beautiful, coral reef beaches are located. We had a good time!! We hung out on the beach, visited a turtle hatchery, did some shopping, and went on a glass-bottom boat ride. We stood in Hikkaduwa for a day (Sunday afternoon to Monday afternoon), for we didn't have any school this past Monday due to a religious holiday, known as Poya. So I guess that would explain my laziness. I'm still on Monday-No School mode. But it'll be okay. Mike and Blair are doing well, just in case you are all wondering. And Br. Augustine (NY's Br. Augie) is due here next week. So ladies and gentlemen, that's the 411. I promise not to go too long without posting a blog entry. Oh and P.S., the student in my class who had proposed marriage to me has since bought me presents, which included a cross pendant for a necklace and a ring (that's right, a ring), artwork, arts & crafts, and occasionally brings me fruits. So, you know what that means: Mahesh--3 points, Patrick--NO points.

Until next time...

Look out for my next blog: Mike, Blair, and I are going into the jungle!!! I know what you are all thinking: A Black girl in the jungle--can't wait to hear if she'll survive!?!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Another Great Weekend!

Hey Everyone! It is your favorite international daredevil Melissa. I hope all is well with you all as you begin this blog entry. I just wanted to inform all of you of my latest whereabouts. For starters, it is Sunday, July 2nd, about 8:30pm. We've just finished our dinner ( was curry!) and now we are all just laying around relaxing and getting ready for school tomorrow. This weekend we had another great outing. Yesterday, after our Saturday school session, we spent the day with everyone's favorite Sri Lankan Brother: Bro. Augustine. It was so much fun!!! He took us out to lunch at this Greek Restaurant and then he took us to buy some fish, for we were going to be having dinner at his sister's house. So after lunch, we bought our dinner (and got to watch the fish butcher slice and dice the fish into pieces. Some blood from the fish had gotten on my leg--it was pretty cool!) and headed to Bro. Augie's (only cool people like me are allowed to call him this) sister's house. We hung out on the front lawn and ate some "tasty" (I'm using the Sri Lankan lingo) Sri Lankan fruits and drank some tea as we all became acquainted with one another. But then Bro. Augie's sister was going to start preparing dinner, so we drove to this lake house place where one could ride in a canoe across the lake. Unfortunately, we didn't get to ride in the canoe because canoe rides were no longer allowed. But we did manage to see a lot of farm animals, hang out by a lake, and take a walk along the beach. It was all really beautiful.
After our short outing, we went back to Bro. Augie's sister's house. While we were waiting for dinner, we hung out outside on the lawn and laughed, drank Arak (strong Sri Lankan Whiskey), told stories, told jokes, and learned songs (in various languages such as: Sinhalese, Spanish, and French). It was the greatest time--a type of event you wish you can do over and over again. We all really had a good time. Dinner was excellent and the company was incredible (hint: Bro. Augie's very attractive former student joined us)!

Today was another fun day. Ravi, one of the "Old Boys"(St. Benedict's College Alum), (and the nicest man ever) picked us up and took us to the beach. The beach is also the site of his hotel. He owns two hotels and so today we passed the day in his hotel with his family. We met and spent the day with his mother, father, wife, and two children. It was nice. We layed on the beach, played in the pool, and drank lime juice all day. We also had this fantastic brunch!! Seafood everywhere! Well, at least for me--I ate up all of the shrimps (they call them prawns, but I call them Good) and crabs. I felt like Homer Simpson when he ate at the "All-You-Can-Eat" Restaurants. It was so good. After fun in the sun (P.S. I got darker), Ravi drove us home. So, all in all, this weekend was goooooooooood.

Until the next episode...

P.S. The following message is for all those individuals who are worried about me due to the writings on the blog:
I am Okay. I do miss home but I'm having a great time in Sri Lanka. Do not take my blogs so seriously because I don't. I like to have a sense of humor in the face of danger: teaching is a very dangerous job, but it's worth it. It's even more dangerous than those crazy Tamil Tigers.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Are you ready for this?

Hey Everyone! Now, though I hope that you are all enjoying all of my blogs, I hope this blog especially warms your heart. So, if you are having a bad day, a bad week, a bad month, or even a bad year, read the following blog carefully and hopefully when you've reached the end of it, you'll realize, "Hey, it's not so bad after all." But if you're really smart, you'll be thinking, "Melissa. What a brave soul, but a damn fool!" So enjoy.
Let me inform you all about what's going on in Sri Lanka, and I guarantee you that you will feel better about your life. For starters, I know that you all heard about the army General that was killed on Monday, June 26th just 17 km east of Colombo (the place where I am staying). So ok: "No big deal right?" WRONG. Big deal. Huge deal. I don't care if it's 17 km or 1.7 km. It is still in Colombo. Should I be worried? Yes. Am I worried? Hell Yeah. But you all know this information. As a matter of fact, it should have been on CNN. But if you didn't get your dosage of CNN (I know, that Anderson Cooper can be a bit much at times) that was just an update of Monday's news. Now, let's get to breaking news. You know, news that is happening as we speak.
Today. June 28th. For most of you reading this, it is just a regular day. A work day. A Wednesday. The middle of the week. But for me, it is a lucky day. I am grateful for this day. It marks another day that I am alive. And in Sri Lanka, June 28th, if I am not mistaken, marks the anniversary of the first suicide bombing. Yay!! Can you believe it? The first. It brings tears to my eyes. Literally. And do you know how the Tamil Tigers (Terrorist Group in Sri Lanka) celebrate this day? Anyone? Anyone? That's right. We gotta set off a suicide bomb. It's only appropriate. But we can't set off just a bomb anywhere in Sri Lanka. That's just silly. So, we have to set off a bomb in school!! Yay!! And guess what school was threatened to be a target??...
My school. Yay!!!! But Everyone, please no worries because today, the faculty closely scrutinized the children. That's right. They inspected classrooms, backpacks and desks for bombs! No no. Not pencils and erasers, but bombs. Very worried, I was. See, you can even notice it in my speech since I'm talking like Yoda. But thankfully, or should I say luckily, nothing happened. The school day proceeded with no explosions or deaths. But Bro. Granville, the principal, did insist on cancelling after-school sessions. And boy, did that help. As you can imagine I was provided with the utmost solace when I found out that after-school was cancelled. Now, what he should have done was cancel school for the year and send me home!!!! Man, don't get me wrong, I know that I am the Angelina Jolie of post-college life, but I don't want to die for the cause. I want to teach these students how to spell CAUSE. But I guess it's just not that simple. God Forbid. I have to be in a place where there is a war going on--oh, excuse me: CEASEFIRE (could have fooled me)--to make a damn difference.
But on a happier note, I heard an MP-3 clip (Thanks Ruben) of Jay-Z from the concert that I WAS NOT AT (because I chose to come to a country where there is a war), which made me feel better. This is all very theraputic for me, if not heart palpatating. So I hope all is well in the USA.

P.S. Hey Edna...Soccer--excuse me, Futbol--is VERY POPULAR over here. The Sri Lankans follow it to a tee when they are not blowing each other up.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Weekend Fun

Hey Everyone!! Here in Sri Lanka it is Sunday, June 25. It's about 11:40 am and I just wanted to write a quick blog to you all about what we did this weekend. Yesterday, we went to St. Benedict's for our weekend seesion of classes. It was fun. We were assigned the 6th and 7th graders. They are so cute. Everyone was excited and asked us numerous questions like if we knew Spiderman personally. And then when the session was done, they crowded around us and asked for our autographs. (That's right, I AM the Beyonce of Sri Lanka!) After school, we came back to the Provincial house and hung out outside by the ocean. Then later in the evening, we went out to dinner at the Cricket Club: a nice, American-esque restaurant. We had a great time--the three musketeers. But the most exciting part of our day occurred when we were coming back home from dinner. The trishaw driver (Sri Lankan cab driver) argued with us and was trying to make us pay more for the cab ride than what we had initially agreed upon. It was crazy! He was threatening us by saying he'd call the police. But you know us Americans. We don't back down. So we told him to call the police because we weren't going to give him extra money. He was confused and called us crazy. After all of the word play, we gave him what we said we would and he had no other choice but to take it. Poor Sri Lankan cabbie; did he really believe he was going to get over on us?!?

Until next time...