Columbo, Sri Lanka
Pre Arrival - Formal Night March 22nd
Daughter Renee…thank you for your note! Looking forward to seeing McLayne – we love & miss you all! So glad to hear Adam FINALLY learned how to BBQ hamburgers for you!!
It’s 6am on Saturday - we are 1-hour outside of Colombo – the largest city in Sri Lanka. During the pre-arrival lecture, we were warned not to expect anything resembling western civilization – that tourism is relatively new here and that there’s no real infrastructure to support it yet. Apparently, Colombo is primarily a container hub that imports crude oil, machinery, iron and steel, while exporting timber, rubber, textiles and manufactured products. This should be an interesting day! Yesterday, we started having crew & passenger drills in the event of pirates. We picked up several guards in Singapore who will be with us until we arrive in Egypt. They’ve set up “charged” water hoses on deck #3 and have also installed two LRAD’s – Long Range Acoustic Devices – apparently, these devices emit sound waves that will supposedly deter any potential pirates. Our itinerary has also been adjusted – the captain plans to go full-speed across the Indian Ocean so we’ll be arriving in Egypt about 14 hours earlier than planned. He said this is merely precautionary, that he doesn’t expect any problems, but we should nevertheless be prepared. He also told us there will be several warships in the area. I told Cheryl with as many people as we have with walking canes, the pirates will take one look at all the “sticks” and run like hell! We could also line-up all the wheelchairs and charge them! Too bad we didn’t kidnap a Komodo Dragon – THAT would make them run!!
So…a very hot, steamy morning here. The only activity we have planned is a 3.5 hour tour starting at 9am…more to follow!
Colombo, Sri Lanka was the target of terrorist activity in recent years and as such, remains a heavily guarded region today as you can tell by some of the photos. As our bus left the pier and throughout the city, armed guards were stationed on every city block. Our tour only stopped three times for very brief visits at a government building, museum and Temple. We were entertained by a snake charmer at the government building (see photo) – the museum was nice but had no air conditioning – the Temple grounds were overrun with goats – a nice Temple, but a rough area. Colombo was interesting, particularly in view of its recent turmoil & subsequent rebuilding efforts, but definitely not one of our top destinations. Prior to our arrival, we were told about a local orphanage that Holland America has historically supported. There were a few fundraising events held on the ship to raise money for the children, the most recent a “dunking for dollars” session. The crew, including the Captain, were each placed on a platform over the pool and for a $5 donation, you were given 3 balls for a chance to “dunk” the participant. The donation amount increased to $50 when it was the Captains turn to be dunked – a friend of ours donated the $50 and gave the balls to his wife (the Captains wife) who ultimately dunked him! It was a great time for everyone, and a wonderful cause. An hour before we were scheduled to leave Sri Lanka, a special song and dance show was scheduled and approximately 20 girls from the orphanage were brought on board to entertain us in the main theater. Following the performances, our Cruise Director presented the orphanage manager with a check for $5,000 - $2,500 from passenger donations and a match from Holland America. It was quite emotional – the girls were obviously very touched and appreciative. Cheryl and I wanted to take them all home…they were all adorable…but with only one spare bedroom now, it would have been a little challenging! May God bless them all…