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I Left My Heart at Amanwella

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

I spent my last night eating dinner Sandun’s house in the Amanwella Village (the resort is named after the village they built right in the middle of ). His father is a fisherman and is out on the sea now, so his 3 lovely younger sisters and mother prepared a delicious Sri Lankan rice and curry. I assumed that we would all be eating together but Sandun says that the Sri Lankans don’t eat as late as 8:00 and so they already had dinner, but it seemed like the girls prepared a romantic meal for us. We spent the rest of the evening drinking tea by moonlight underneath lush jungle plants surrounded by lurking sounds of frogs, buzzing mosquitoes and chanting geckos and every so often a bat soaring mysteriously above our heads.The next day I met Sandun to say goodbye. I had my things packed up and waiting out front of Amanwella. I ordered my last breakfast of hashbrowns and porage to be ready for me at 10.  I met Sandun at the beach, the usual spot underneath the palm trees by the boats, and he was sporting my BOULDER shirt with a pair of jeans. As a backpacker, you must go through your things before every departure to ensure you are carrying as least amount on your back as possible. So I got rid of a lot of clothing that I had bought in Sri Lanka for my stay, along with a few items I had brought from Colorado. I decided to give my Sri Lankan skirts and some American tops, along with one of my favorite bags that I was carrying around art supplies in, to Sandun’s sisters (they were shy at first, revealing only sweet smiles from my gifts but Sandun later revealed to me that once I left they were dancing around in the skirts and tops!) I also had to part ways with my favorite jersey cotton grey BOULDER t-shirt, and decided to gave it to Sandun. I reminded him to tell people asking about BOULDER that “It is in the mountains in Colorado, in the center of the United States, and there is lots of snow!” We exchanged small gifts, goodbyes and a kiss (I made him a collage and he gave me a birthday card that I ended up reading later that day) then went on my way to hand out other goodbyes which would become harder and harder as they happened.I ate my last meal surrounded by all of my favorite Amanwella boys. These wonderful boys served me my 3 daily meals with a side of Sri Lankan culture. For countless hours I quizzed the boys on their families, love and romance, food, animals, plants, the Sinhala language and much much more! It was hard to finish my breakfast as I was surrounded by adorable puppy faces pleading “please take us with you Aubrey” and “don’t ever forget us”. I will never forget my Amanwella boys, how could I? In the midst of the luxuries of staying at the resort, they were my friends and my insight into the real story behind those beautiful brown faces that inhabit this tiny island in the middle of the Indian ocean. Without them, I would not know the Sri Lankan people the way that I do now.It was difficult to pull away from the crowd of teary eyed boys. I gave them each a hug, took a few photos and went to the car which had already packed my backpack. As I climbed into the van I turned around to see a gathering of all the other Amanwella workers. The spa therapists, the receptionists, the servers, and the housekeepers. They had all lined up to see me off, and it was this sight that pulled the first tear from my eye. I turned my face to hide my sadness, but just as all of the most beautiful sorrows take over us, I let the tears come. I turned back one last time as they all waved, and saw a familiar image in my mind. It was these same crowd who had greeted me upon my arrival, welcoming me to my new home, but as strangers. And now as I left Amanwella, the sight of them standing in the entrance was the same, but the feeling was different. Now I was not leaving the strangers that had welcomed me, but I was leaving my friends and the family that had been with me through the holidays and the last month of my life.I drove through Amanwella village, past Sanduns home with tears streaming down my face. The kind that are so heavy they slide down your face and drop off your chin before you can even blink them away. I opened up the birthday card (7 days early) that Sandun had given me. In it was the poem that Sandun had recited to me the day he saw me dancing in the rain at the Muligirigala Rock Temple.

“It must have been a rainy day, the day that you were born. But it wasn’t really rain, the sky was crying because he lost his most beautiful angel”

This is when I realized that I left a part of my heart at Amanwella.

Creatures of Peace Beach

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Monkeying around during Yoga

I started teaching yoga classes to the Amanwella guests last Friday… Oh dear, what day is it even today?  We start at 8 on the yoga platform which is in the coconut grove right in front of the shimmering Indian Ocean. 

During my second yoga class, we were joined by a couple of members from the Peace Beach Dog Gang.  As we melted into our meditation at the beginning of our practice, our deep Ujaii breath was accompanied by by some smelly dog breath.  3 dogs curiously tip-toed across our mats sniffing the yoga students.  It was as if they were protecting their beach by investigating the newest arrivals.  They must have approved of the yoga students becuase they vanished off into the coconut grove after a few minutes of investigation. 

As my students lay in peaceful savasana at the end of class, their relaxation was not only accompanied by the sounds of breaking waves, but of palm tree branches being ripped apart and thrown and coconuts falling from 40 feet in the air.  I caught a glimpse of several grey monkeys swinging about the coconut grove reaping havoc!  Their tails stick straight up in the air like the monkeys from The Wizard of Oz.  The same monkeys that almost caused a 6 tuk-tuk pileup on the road the other day as i went into town.  We had to wait as a line of monkeys crossed the street!

Other tiny (or not so tiny) creatures I have encountered

I constantly walk with my attention at my feet!  There are little caterpiller creatures EVERYWHERE! And they are kind of cute, they are black with yellow stripes, kind of like catipillers.  They even crawl over the yoga mats, and I felt one during Warrior I the other day and took the weight out of the arch of my foot, avoiding squishing him!  Then of course there are the usual ants and mosquitos.  Then there are the Kurmila, the giant black beetles!  I have seen a few, either soaring in the air, or struggling on its back waiving their feet in the air.  I always help him out by flipping him over if I see him on his shell.  Earlier, I described the lizards in the rooms, which actually I found out are geckos.  They don’t bother me, they are rather cute! 
Then there are the SPIDERS!!!!  Not so many, but the two that I have seen are enough to make me jump out of my swim suit bottoms! One night in my room I found a very large spider in my bathroom.  Its legs were probably two inches long!  I don’t like spiders, but I don’t like to kill them either.  So what I usually do is cover it with a glass, then slide some paper underneath it, carry it outside, then set it free!! Well this time, I did all of the above, however the mouth of the glass was too small to fit over the entire spider!! So out stuck its poor legs.  I had used an Amanwella postcard as the base, and as I walked out to my porch to free it, I realised I’d have to set it very far away if i didn’t want it coming back.  So I had no choice but to throw the glass and postcard off into the distance.  The next morning, I found the glass and postcard on my porch, one of the landscaping guys must have found it in the brush, and knew it had to have been mine.  oops!  Then at last, the second spider I saw, eeeeeh I can hardly even write about it, was HUGE!  It had been raining all day so of course many of the little creatures had to find places to sleep, out of the rain.  I found this particular spider inside of my shower.  I could see him in the dark he was so big.  His body had to be at least an inch and a half, with legs stretching over 3 inches!!  I froze in my footprints! I almost started crying i was so scared!  I called housekeeping in the middle of the night and they told me to just spray it with the bug repellent I had in my room.  “Nooooooooooooo way! Please send someone to help me!”  Until they came, I kept looking back in the shower to make sure it didn’t move.  How awful would that have been if it dissapeared and I had no idea where to!!  Finally someone came, and as much as It scared me, I didn’t want it to die.  But there was no choice, he squished him in a towel and carried him away.  I spent the next half hour with on of the workers pointing at places in my room for him to check for bugs. 

In addition to the spiders, mosquitos and geckos who have developed a liking to my room, I share my porch with the same dogs from the yoga platform!  There are particularly three that have hairried up my lounge mattresses.  This is a photo of my favorite one, which I have named Rupee,  he is demonstrating his yoga abilities for the camera and is showing where the term “Downward Facing Dog” comes from. 

 The froggies!! They are soooo adorable!! They come in all shapes and sizes.  There are some from the size of my baby finger nail to the size of my palm.  There are a few outside of my room and I fall asleep to their melodic croaking, along with a mixture of exotic birds (including peakocks and others which I will discuss upon further observation) geckos, and the ocean waves!

Typical Day at Amanwella

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Typical Day at Amanwella

6:30 am ~ Wake up, do my morning Kriya and meditation on my balcony8:00 -9:00 am ~ Teach Yoga to Amanwella guests on the [Continue reading this entry]

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