"Closing time - time for you to go out, go out into the world... Closing time - you don't have to go home but you can't stay here... Closing time - every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end"
It's really time to go. I'm packed (almost) and I'm being picked up to be taken to the airport in about 4 hours time. I don't want to leave; I've been made to feel so welcome at home and made some good relationships with the girls at work that it feels so much longer than 2 months since I said goodbye to the UK. I've even just had the pleasure of a free trip on the bus thanks to one of my regular conductors on the way to work!
Things I have learnt: I am practical, proactive and (apparently) stylish. I'll do what I see needs doing, and not just make plans to do it which I then forget about when things get tough. You can't change the world, but you can help to make it a little better in places.
And some advice if you're thinking of coming to Sri Lanka: Don't bring a white towel to Sri Lanka, it will only show how badly you have cleaned yourself in the shower (feet in particular never seem to be clean!)
Keep your eyes open. On my way to work I've seen more animals than I saw on safari. Elephant, lizard, bearded dragon, giant lizard (water monitor I think it's called), porcupine, mongoose, giant snail, millipedes, rat, giant spiders, water buffalo, parakeets, monkeys, fireflies and of course dogs, cats and cows. I've also seen the variety of life than is Sri Lanka - men pouring over the pages of the Race Card, women at the temple, men playing cards outside the coffin shop, children at school.
Ride the buses. They can get so crowded you have to stand on the steps and hang out the door (don't tell my mum!) and they take an age to get anywhere but they are dead cheap. If you have a seat you may end up with someone elses' shopping on your lap, or yours on theirs. There's always a lot to see out of the windows too. Just make sure you have your fare ready in your hand when you get on, it's a bit hard to rescue money from a purse with only one hand!
Try it!! Eating local food, eating with your hands, that small restaurant on the corner that looks like it's never seen a foreigner before. You are in another country, embrace the culture. Actually, the food isn't usually that hot, so eating with your fingers isn't as hard as it sounds (and it makes me eat faster?!)
See as much of the country as you can. Ok, it takes a while to get anywhere, but it's beautiful. Go on a train, for the journey as well as the destination.
Stop and talk to people. Everyone wants to know where you are from and what you are doing in their country, particularly in the places that don't get tourists very often.
Accept that if you are working in a residential setting with children you WILL get head lice. Make sure you take a comb with you and check regularly. :)
Don't expect people to leave a comment on your blog to let you know they are reading it. They will pass messages in mysterious ways by other means.