• Tara B. Vasi

Day 17-18 Sri Lanka: Elephant Project, Sea Turtle Project, Cinnamon, Full Moon

Two boiled eggs and fresh fruit. Nescafe.

We spend a day with Kumati the sweet lady elephant at the Temple. We buy her loaves of bread and she eats them like they are pieces of popcorn. Like most Asian elephants, Kumati has a fingerlike process on the end of her trunk which makes it super easy to grab food and the highest point of her body is her head. Sri Lankan elephants are sacred and on the endangered species list. They are protected by Sri Lankan law, so killing one carries the death penalty.

The Elephant Project includes bathing Kumati. After we introduce ourselves and carb load her, we have to walk down the street, so that she can get in the tub. She won’t get in the tub around white people because she loves them so much. I swear to god. She gets overjoyed around white people. We come back from our walk and she is laying on her side in the tub ready for her bath. She definitely pops her head up to scope us out and I can only assume she is thinking, yesssss, those white people came back to play. I love them so much.

Kumatis entire body needs to be scrubbed with a coconut shell. HARD. Cristy gets in the tub bath with Kumati and her mahout (trainer, keeper, BFF) and gets to scrubbing. I am exempt from the work because I am still bandaged up from the spider bite and am not supposed to get wet. I could have fought that if I really wanted to, but I didnt. The bath water looked poopy. Kumati just stares at me the whole time and I rub her trunk while she gets her bath. #spaday

i love her big happy elephant butt.

The next few days we work at the Sea Turtle Hatchery. We start with a beach cleanup each day and then collect algae for the turtles to eat. Chamara gets fish for us to cut up to give to the turtles. He tries to get me to cut one up, but I refuse, number one because I fucking hate fish. Number two, he didnt have gloves. As a little girl, I used to plug my nose when we passed the seafood section of the grocery store. Hell, I have done that as an adult. Number three, no one is floating around in the ocean cutting up fish for turtles. They are fine. I won.

Irun, the young man who works at the hatchery, apparently has heard of the bad vet. He told me a story once about how a bad vet (not “the” bad vet, another one… apparently there are plenty in Sri Lanka) “accidentally” overdosed one of his friends middle aged dogs, killing her, and they all got together and beat the shit out of him. I typically don’t condone violence, but I asked Irun if I could borrow him and a his friends for an evening. He laughed and I couldn’t tell if it was in agreement.

There are two puppies at the Hatchery and they offered me one, a little girl who was dark brown with a black nose. At first I said, Oh my god, I don’t know if I can handle that right now, and then two seconds later, Oh Ok Fine, I’ll take her, she looks like a Cinnamon (Sri Lankan number one export and a hell of a delicious spice). She has a little white patch on her chest just like Peanut did.

Chamara, Cristy, and I are about to head out of town, so we told the guys we’d get back to them for sure in a few days.

We have since separated the littlest sweet girl puppy out of the cage with the four psychopath puppies. We wanted to do it earlier, but we didnt have anywhere to put her. She was much younger and they kept bullying her. I think I mentioned her before. Her name is Cashew. She was the one that got her head stuck in the fence and died for a half hour or so but was resussitated by Chamara and the good vet.

She has a goopey eye and a boo boo tail.

We took her to the good vet and gave her all her puppy shots (which was a long time coming) and got prescriptions for eye drops and cream for her tail. She absolutely loves human attention and I could tell she was soooo grateful to be outside of the cage (like who wouldn’t be?) We brought her out in the yard and was feeding her homemade dog food, rice, beans, left overs. She ate the entire huge bowl in record time. Definitely used to fighting others for food. Amma came out and gave her a piece of bread. Cashew disappeared for a second and I went to look for her. I found her hiding the piece of bread and covering it with leaves. Sweet girl was trying to hide it and save it for later. #traumatised

The full moon in Sri Lanka was on December 11th. Buddhists don’t eat any meat or meat products on Full Moons, so we went vegan for the day. We have an early morning yoga practice and fruit. I break out my special desert peanut butter with coconut cream and juggary. Juggary is “Sri Lanka’s Maple Syrup”. It is absolutely delicious with banana in the morning or, as I have learned, just as delicious by the spoon full if you are crying yourself to sleep at night. Kind of like Nutella.

We went back to the Moonstone Mine. They weren’t very flexible in their negotiations, so haggling took way longer then it needed to. (I suppose they were equally annoyed with us?)

I got a ring to ship to my friend and after purchasing learned that you cannot ship moonstone outside of the country. If anyone wants a Sri Lankan moonstone ring, let me know and I can bring one back for you. Apparently you can’t ship spices either. Good to know. What about a dog named cinnamon? 🤔

We have been hounding Chamara to take us to a store or market to look around and shop. He calls for a tuk tuk to take us. We assume the tuk tuk driver is going to drop us off and then we are going to get a different one back, but instead the tuk tuk driver follows us around the store while we shop and hurries us along with his stares and crossed arms. I get a togo coffee mug, a cheap yoga mat, and blanket, so I am happy enough, albeit stressed the fuck out.

We get back to the Villa and I hold a simple Full Moon Letting Go ceremony for Cristy and me. We write things we want to let go of on a piece of paper. I take this opportunity map out everything I hate about myself. Then, I end the list with, letting go of excessive negative self talk, perfectionism, and being so hard on myself all the damn time. We light our list on fire and I yell “BE GONE!”

I just had my 36th birthday, and its the same old song and dance. Is this bullshit battle with myself ever going to go away? Or get easier? Will I ever be able to stop putting so much damn effort into correcting my mindset and just love myself naturally? Its god damn exhausting!

SERIOUSLY, BE GONE! I have shit to do.


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