15 Nov 2017

Sri Lanka - Getting Lost In Travel by cocofia


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I was not feeling my best - so I actually stocked up on the fresh fruit, tried some coffee with coconut milk (which, because they were out of real coconuts was made from a powdered milk substance), and made a lime papaya seed tea.

The only thing missing was some good gluten-free carbs. I asked Ollie if tomorrow might bring me some gluten-free carbs! I mean, a gal is on vacation and has the entitlement to ask for what she wishes, right?

I was hopeful that the fresh fruits would help calm the sunburn I managed to get from 30-minutes in the sun with two suntan lotion applications. Man, the sun out here is brutal! Good thing my roommate for the week had packed some Witch Hazel with Rose essential Oils!

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Today we head back to the dog shelter to show some affection to some of the disabled (giving them some donated dog treats) and help bathe the disabled and some of the puppies!

Still really not feeling well and recovering from my sunburn, I laid low - cuddled with a couple dog friends in their compound and then helped take photos during bath time. It was a life-changing experience to watch all of the volunteers interact with the dogs!

I actually recall there being one dog, Sirruby (?) who was recovering from a skin disease, leaving her bald and filled with scabs. Normally, when volunteers come to bathe her, they are certain to wear gloves - not because it is contagious, but because it is mentally hard for humans to digest sometimes.

Anne Marie on the other hand, said, no to the gloves and was able to provide some much needed skin-to-skin contact that Sirruby was in need of. She was one of the more beautiful dogs at the shelter and will forever be remembered, in my mind, as the "ugly duckling".

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Normally, after you volunteer at the Animal SOS Shelter for a 1/2 day or more, you join the team for their lunch - but today's lunch was not very filling or Nicole-Friendly.

Once back at Sion Surf Camp, we all swarmed the bar like starving beasts! Again, the lunch menu here is heavily western-focuses and not very Nicole-friendly and my go-to Ollie was enjoying mowing the grass. I did find the owner and she was extremely helpful in placing a lunch order for me- BUT it never came so we had to reorder it and the chef came out personally to make sure I enjoyed it!

My meal today was, rice, cucumbers, tomatoes, balsamic salad, okra and a beet curry (with a nice spice to it). This meal was would rank as of my favorites and the rest of my team was envious!

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Maureen needed to do what was best for her and going home early was exactly that and honestly, I’m so proud of her that she came out and I hope she is not only proud of herself but that she enjoyed her time here!

I could see that some parts of the trip were more difficult for her than others and I could also see Maureen in her element when volunteering at the Animal SOS Shelter.

I have known Maureen for just over a year now and I can honestly say, I had never seen her so comforted than I did when she was engaging with the disabled dogs. She was able to bring them some affection and love and in return, she too felt loved and whole.

I hope that one day, Maureen will have the opportunity to feel this love and affection on a daily basis and know that she is, in fact, worth that love!

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Yoga on the rooftop pavilion was beyond welcomed since I missed this morning’s early class due to the stomach issues.

Prior to this retreat, I hadn't had the honor of taking Gina's class for almost a good 6-months and it is inspiring to see how much she has grown as a person, as a yogi, and as a leader.

Her teaching style is unique compared to most. Every class is begun with the question "what do you need?" and all students are welcome to share what it is that they need at this present moment - be it emotional, physical or spiritual. The class is then created on the fly (how many yoga teachers do you know that can successfully pull this off) based on everyone's' needs.

While Gina is a hands-off teacher and I do tend to miss some of the physical adjustments, they are typically not needed in the alignment aspect, as her queues guide you to where you need to be, I just tend to miss the hands-on adjustments for the human connection that I enjoy during yoga.

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Another dream come true on this magical adventure!

I started the week with the team asking if anyone would be interested in a cooking class and by surprise, everyone else seemed to share my excitement. And since Sion Surf Camp doesn't serve dinner on Wednesday and Saturday evenings, we figured a Wednesday evening cooking class would make perfect sense.

As recommended by Sion's yoga instructor, we found and booked with Chef Welle.

Our adventure began with the Sri Lankan bus system, a bit of a walk in the dark (mind you, it is pitch black around 6:00 pm) and finally locating Chef Welle's home/homestay/cooking classes.

Upon arrival, how do I begin to explain the inner child that was peaking out and jumping for freaking joy inside of me? I was trying my best to contain this inner-chile, as I didn't want to embarrass myself with the team - BUT REALLY, I AM LEARNING AYURVEDIC COOKING IN A SRI LANKAN GRANDMA'S KITCHEN!? HOLY SHIT this is a dream beyond a dream come!

Chef Welle cooks in his grandma's kitchen, is a published author, fisherman, owns a homestay, makes and sells his own spices and homemade-coconut oil, oh and makes awesome lights out of fisherman equipment. Basically, I aspire to be somewhat of a small percentage of this man!

As we begin our cooking lesson we notice the baskets of ingredients on the kitchen floor and almost question if he will be able to make enough food for the group with so little.

We begin with the pumpkin curry. Using Walle's homemade curry powder and only the freshest ingredients.

We watch as he cracks open a coconut and then scrapes out the meat! Then using this fresh coconut meat to make milk (three cups water to the whole coconut's meat) which will be used in most of our night's menu.

I watch in awe, trying to remember everything Chef Walle is saying so that I may go home and "try" to duplicate myself - and I sit in amazement that I found someone else who cooks with little to no oil! There wasn't one thing the Chef was cooking with that I wouldn't use at home. Is this a first, I found a 100% Nicole-Friendly option!?

Moving on to the “jungle” mushroom dish- I had never had a jungle mushroom prior, but they almost appear and feel like noodles when cooked!

Next on the menu was a refreshing coconut cucumber salad- very simple, basically cucumbers, tomato, lime juice and freshly grated coconut. This was one of my favorites from the evening.

Lastly, a quick tuna dish was created for our non-veg folks.

Oh and not to forget, one of my favorite Sri Lankan delicacies, the red rice. Chef had previously cooked the red rice due to the length of time it takes to cook.

Then, as a group, we sat and enjoyed our made with love meal!

Just as our group was finishing stuffing our faces, chef brings out dessert. A coconut milk, coconut meat, sweet potatoes and bananas, raisins and honey!

Amazing! I wish I would have saved more room for this dessert!

Random notes I took during class
Pumpkin skin = yes!!!
Red onion is no sugar, white onion is high in sugar...
Curry leaves clean blood
Black is better than yellow seeds
Ulaha- spice to help with joints.
Coconut water will become vinegar if you let it set.
Red rice is without sugar and white rice = sugar
Honey with black pepper good for brain

What Chef Walle eats in a typical day:
Breakfast: Vegan pancakes or sweet potato cookies.
Lunh: Salad bowls
Dinner: Curry of some sort.