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Journey in Sri Lanka

Three visits to the elephant orphanage in Pinewela. I adore elephants.

A group of us was run out of the oldest Buddhist Temple in Anaradapura--we didn't have admission tickets and there was no place to buy them there. You have to buy them as part of the cultural triangle ticket in Colombo. It was flooded in that region the day we made the trip. There is a cutting from the Bo tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment at that temple.

One day I rode on the train to Pinewela. It was the end of Ramadan and many people were traveling that day. I was the only white person on the train (I was traveling with a Sri Lankan man who was trying to sweet-talk me into some kind of business deal). At the end of that day, we took a bus back to the Colombo area. There were no seats available so many people were standing. I stood behind the bus driver. He honked the horn OFTEN. This is how Sri Lankans drive--with one hand on the wheel, the other on the horn! We came to a crowd of people standing by the road because their bus had broken down. Our driver stopped and let them on. I swear I don't know how all those people fit on the bus! Our driver then noticed there might be a problem with one of the tires, so he stopped, we all got out. The tire was fixed, and we went on our way. Thank heaven he was paying attention.

One of my patients died. It was very sad. She was a tiny baby with severe spinal bifida and hydrocephalus. My little teacher about death, I think of her. The Sri Lankan Hospitals would not do anything for her, so her family brought her to our clinic. We couldn't do much either, but tried. She was from a Muslim family. She died in the morning, and her father came to the clinic to get a death certificate. Muslims bury their dead the same day. Later he came to get me and take me to the family home so I could comfort the mother and the rest of the family a little. It comforted me, too.

There are so many stories. It was a great adventure!!

Healingly yours,

Dr. Auntie (that's the nickname one of my young patients gave me)



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