After completing the second phase successfully on the 18thof April, I came home around 12 AM on the 19th of April, thinking “Okay, so today we are going to commence the final phase of Ceylon Safari and I have to be there in the EP house at exactly 5 AM”. Sacrificing my sleep for the 9th consecutive day, I was there at the EP house on time and met my beloved project participants, my chosen family again. I must say that I was so happy when I saw their smiling faces, and their enthusiasm hasn’t gone down even a little bit. There were 16 participants and as a co-chair of the project, I explained the schedule for the day to all the participants and then began the third and the final phase of Ceylon Safari’22.
“Dear Southern Coastal Line, here we come”
From the moment I stepped onto the bus, I noticed that all the participants have become much more talkative compared to other phases and I was wondering why. So many discussions going around and it was weird for me. Anyway, after having a good breakfast at the infamous Welipenna service Centre, we headed toward our first destination Madhu River. And then, it was finally the time for the first activity of the day, the boat ride. Luckily there was a big boat to fit all of us and the ride started. As usual, the back seaters started singing, and soon all the others joined... Such a relaxing sight.
While enjoying the mangroves on the Riverbanks, we went to a Buddhist monastery which was on one of the 40+ islands in Madhu River. Our next stop was a cinnamon island where cinnamon-related products are made, and all of us were lucky enough to enjoy a delicious cup of Cinnamon tea there.
The mandatory group picture was taken after that and as usual, me the official photographer was also in the photo thanks to the self-timer in the camera.
The very ticklish fish therapy experience was a novel thing for the most of us. It was my first time and..., I mean it was a quite decent foot therapy I have had after a long time.
Our next destination was the turtle hatchery center in Hikkaduwa. As a sub-project of Ceylon Safari’22, “Clean hatchery” was commenced there, while allowing all the participants to get to know more about turtles. The enthusiastic staff shared knowledge about how these turtles are endangered due to human activities. It was a good learning environment and all of us got the chance to touch those adorable baby turtles. The lucky fellows in the group especially our beloved foreign friends even got the chance to release some baby turtles to the sea.
After having a good bath in the Hikkaduwa beach, all of us enjoyed a wonderful seafood lunch and headed towards our last destination for the day, the Galle fort. Oh man, our timing! We were so lucky to witness a magnificently beautiful sunset at Galle fort and I was over the moon happy since there were so many sunset addicts in the group, and they were more than satisfied. I sat alone on a bench and thought to myself, "15 happy faces going here and there, having happy conversations, and enjoying the breeze coming from the ocean for three straight hours now. They are making everlasting memories, aren’t they? Maybe next time, I’ll enjoy this in the same way as they do with a little less co-chair responsibilities ;p”.
We had our dinner at our beloved IS co-director Sandali akka’s place at Hikkaduwa and I noticed, again there are so many odd chats going on. Without caring much, I went to complete the budgeting details and edit some pictures taken that day. The time was 12.01 AM on the 20th of April. Suddenly Nethma Akka came to me and told me, “Malli, Bimsara ayya is calling you downstairs to settle the dinner bill. Shall we go?”. Without any hesitation, I went downstairs to meet our Mr. President Bimsara ayya, and asked about the bill. “What Bill?” he said and he hit me with an egg. Malintha who was near bimsara ayya started doing the same thing and totally they hit 10 eggs on my head. Without stopping with the egg treatment, they sprayed baby powder and snow spray on me. But why? They have found out that the 20th of April is my birthday, and all those odd chats were about how to celebrate it. I had to bathe three times to get rid of the smell and then began my 22nd birthday celebration. I must say that it was one of the most memorable birthday celebrations I have ever had. It is too embarrassing to put the pictures of it here.
With the spirit of the birthday celebration, the final day of the 3rd phase of Ceylon Safari began. After having our breakfast at Galle, I explained the daily proceedings and we headed towards the beautiful Unawatuna beach. I must mention Michelle, our beloved participant from Colombia decided to buy me breakfast as a treat from her. Thank you so much, Michelle!
So, the breathtaking Unawatuna beach... White to light blue to dark blue colour water, I was fascinated and amazed beyond words. Without any delay, everyone started enjoying the magical water. From water splashes to swimming races to breath holding competitions, I would say that it was a total war zone. Spending nearly 4 hours in the beach, again we all enjoyed a delicious seafood lunch and after having a small rest, we headed towards the Mirissa beach. I don’t know how these people managed to have 2-hour bathing again at Mirissa because I was so exhausted. Even the sea was rough but enjoying the moment was their prime goal, I guess. I couldn't ignore the sunset we witnessed there again for the second consecutive day and couldn't help but think how lucky we were. Unfortunately, with the time constraint, we couldn’t go to Coconut tree hill to witness the sunset, but we saw it anyway.
It was the time to have dinner but more importantly, we had the awarding ceremony where we gave our beloved foreign participants Sebastian, Laure, and Michelle little souvenirs, and even they gave us one which was a total surprise. During the farewell speeches, our beloved Sebastian mentioned that he has a special place in his heart for Sri Lanka and every local participant from Ceylon Safari. Laure said, “It’s not a farewell, but just a see you soon”. Michelle mentioned, “Now my home is your home too”. After hearing those words, it was so hard for me to say goodbye to the amazing Rotaract family I met. I felt like “I can’t let you all go”. Despite all the stress, tiredness, and responsibilities I had to fulfill, I had a wonderful experience, and I learned so many life lessons as well. I believe it was the same for all the other local participants from Rotaract Mora. But I realized, "If we are happy at the end of the day, there's nothing more to expect right."
So, after a memorable 10-day period, on the 20thof April 2022, Ceylon safari’22 came to its glorious end, soaring the flag of Rotaract Mora through the sky, building new friendships, and collecting everlasting wonderful memories. My special thanks go to the President of Rotaract Mora Bimsara ayya, Vice president of the IS Avenue Chamod ayya, Directors of the IS Avenue Sandali Akka and Avishka ayya, Affair coordinator and my beloved batchmate Saeedha, our beloved foreign participants, every local participant, transport providers and the PR committee who helped me to make this project a massive success.
Let’s meet again with another wonderful project like this. Until then, Cheers people!