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Peace Corps: Georgia

Yala National Park & The New Year

I’m back in freezing cold Georgia and severely missing Sri Lanka’s warmth and all the good times there, especially the last few days.

On the 30th, Mark and I took a public bus, which is always an experience, from Nuwara Eliya to Tissamaharama, a town on the southwest coast near Yala National Park. The bus was packed when we got on it and we feared that we would have to go the entire six hours without a seat. About thirty minutes into the ride, a small Sri Lankan boy got on the bus and puked all over the ground and Mark’s leg less than a minute later. At this point, it looked like it was not going to be a pleasant bus ride. Surprisingly, everything turned around when we both got seats about 90 minutes into the ride and the journey turned out to only be about four and a half hours rather than the six hours we were told. We spent the afternoon walking to the lake in Tissamaharama and taking it easy since we were scheduled to depart at 5 the next morning for a half-day safari in Yala National Park.

Our safari trip was one of my two favorite parts of the trip (the other being Horton Plains). We arrived in the park right as the sun was coming up and had some gorgeous views of the water buffalo bathing in the early morning sun.

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We were in the park from about 6 AM until 11 AM. We had a driver/guide who drove us through the park in a jeep and throughly impressed us with his ability to spot animals from quite a distance. Our guide did a great job making sure we saw as many different animals as possible as even got us to the front of the pack (i.e. cutting all the other jeeps off) to see the leopard and the elephant. We saw the following animals at Yala: leopard, elephants, water buffalo, mongooses, peacocks, foxes, lizards, eagles, wild boar, all types of birds, monkeys . . . and some boring deer. It was a really amazing experience and I’d rather let the pictures do the talking.

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Fulfilling Mark’s childhood dream of seeing a leopard in the wild

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Some type of Sri Lankan bird

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Mongoose

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More crazy birds

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On the coast

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Our sweet ride for the day

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Peacock in a tree

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The elephant that was almost charging our jeep…the driver was pretty terrified

Mark and I got dropped off at the bus station as soon as we were finished at Yala and headed east on the southern coast to Galle, an old fort town. Galle was really cute and I wish we could have spent more time there but we were only there for New Year’s Eve. NYE was rather uneventful this year since we were both wiped from getting up at 4:30 AM and it’s hard to find a place that even serves beer in some Sri Lankan towns. Sadly, I didn’t even make it up until midnight.

On New Year’s Day, we took the bus back to Negombo and spent our final afternoon on the beach trying to to soak up as much warmth as possible. We had a nice final dinner and I made sure to order foods I can’t eat in Georgia– good seafood and fresh fruit juice. The next morning we were up early to catch our 9 AM flight. I was sad to leave Sri Lanka (I could have definitely used another three days just to sit on the beach), but hopefully I can go back one day.

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Last sunset of 2012, Galle

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First sunset of 2013, Negombo

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