I’ve finally started to make some progress figuring out the details of where I will be and what I will be doing for my research project, which is good considering the fact that my month in Colombo is coming to an end. I plan to start by studying land use around the Sinharaja Rainforest, the largest remaining tract of rainforest in Sri Lanka. My main contact in Sri Lanka has offered to put me in touch with an economist who owns an organic tea estate close to Sinharaja and is working to make tea production sustainable and compatible with conservation of the rainforest. I hope to learn about what he is doing and how other people are managing land in this area. I’ll see where the research takes me, but right now, I’m thinking I then may want to do a comparative study looking at land use around a different protected area somewhere else in the country.
In addition to this preliminary research, I’ve had some time to get to know Colombo, and despite my initial dislike of this city, I’ve had an enjoyable month. All of us Fulbrighters went to a reception at the Fulbright Commission early in October, where we met some Sri Lankans about our age, who have been showing us around the city and even spent a weekend with us in Mirisa on the southern coast. Even though Mirisa is on a protected inlet, I was reminded of just how rough the Indian Ocean is, as the waves pushed me over, and I swallowed large amounts of sea water.
Last week Anna, Kelsi, and I started going to a fitness class that happens in the evenings in a park in Colombo (being outside is nice, but the heat and humidity make excessive physical activity challenging even after dark). Coincidentally, the leaders of the class are coaches at the Colombo Rowing Club, which was very exciting for Anna and me, both former rowers. They invited us to a regatta last weekend, and we even got to row in a double this morning!
Other highlights include the Good Market, a weekly market with fresh produce, crafts, and food from all parts of the world. It’s great to be able to buy a falafel sandwich, frozen yogurt, and coconut roti with lunu miris (chilies and onions) all at the same place. Continuing on the food theme, fresh fruit juice has become a staple of my diet. I particularly enjoy the papaya, passion fruit, avocado, and wood apple juices. For those of you who don’t know what a wood apple is, check out this website: http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-wood-apple-or-bel-fruit.html and here’s a picture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wood-apple_dec2007.jpg. Don’t let the picture fool you, it’s actually quite delicious, and the health benefits are pretty impressive.
This is the house I've been living in for the past month
Some beach pictures.
Walking down the streets of Colombo
Oktoberfest in Colombo (don't be fooled by the German outfits--they're actually British)
Anna and me on the bus. We were lucky to get a seat--sometimes on buses and trains, there's barely room to stand.
The regatta between Royal and St. Thomas High Schools at the Colombo Rowing Club