Saturday, November 26, 2011

Research in Nuwara Eliya

I’m back in Kandy now, after spending 11 days in Nuwara Eliya, learning about land use in the area. The first week was great. I got out almost every day to interview fruit and vegetable farmers, researchers, or home gardeners. The second week, although still interesting, was not as enjoyable as it started raining on Sunday and still had not stopped when I left this morning, 7 days later. I used to laugh at Sri Lankans who complain about Nuwara Eliya being cold, but I understand now. The first week, when it was sunny, I got cold in the evenings and ended up sleeping in the fleece jacket I bought on my second day there. The second week, I was always cold, day and night. It makes me worry about what’s going to happen when I return to Massachusetts and then Maine in January.
One thing that I loved about this past week and a half is that I got to spend every day going outside into some beautiful place, although I did get a little bit sick of seeing leek and carrot fields. Perhaps what surprised me most during my research is that very few people seemed to think that organic is possible. Everyone wanted to reduce their use chemicals, but even people at the Agricultural Research Station said that without chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the farms just won’t be productive.
The most eventful thing that happened to me was having my food stolen by monkeys at Hakgala Botanic Gardens. I was sitting in a small pavilion, eating strawberries, when all of a sudden three monkeys appeared and grabbed the (almost empty) container of berries. They were sitting in the door, seeming to be expecting me to give them more food. Wanting to get out of there before they came after more of my stuff, I climbed over the waist-high wall rather than walk through the doorway guarded by monkeys. Later, they tried to take my mango, and as I was putting a plastic bag, full of trash into my backpack, one grabbed the bag out of my hand and climbed up a tree to share it with the others. I let them keep it and continued walking around the gardens.

Vegetable farms

All of the terraces in the background are vegetables, mostly carrots, leeks, potatoes, beets, and cabbage

The view from Hakgala Botanic Gardens

Old tea plants in Hakgala Botanic Gardens

Ambewela Dairy Farm

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