In the morning of the 28th of August, after a long bus ride, we arrived at the Kitulgala river. First, we gathered our gear: a yellow jacket for warmth in the cold water, a life jacket, and a helmet, then we set off on a hike to the waterfall for canyoning. The canyoning experience was more mentally challenging than physically, we had to jump into small areas in the water, off tall cliffs, and we had to trust our classmates to guide us down a waterfall slide. After canyoning, we ate a delicious lunch of rice and curry at the river’s edge under a bridge.
Eating lunch by the river (Photo Credits: Mr. Duncan)
After lunch and a hike to the rafting site, we were split into our white water rafting groups. When white water rafting we had to learn how to work together to paddle hard and listen to the guide, telling us when to paddle forwards, backward, stop paddling, and when to get down. No one in my group ended up falling out and we didn’t dump once. However, when one of the rafts got stuck on a rock when trying to go down a rapid that we had already gone down, we had to pull over and hold on to rocks while our guide went to help them. After we finished rafting, we floated down the river back to Borderlands. I finished the day with a river bath and playing cards with my classmates.
After breakfast the next morning, we went on a hike to caves where we did a TOK session. The view from the second cave was beautiful, with the water trickling down the rock and the opening.
Walking up the slippery rocks to the second cave.
The view from the second cave.
However, as you walked further into the cave, the sight of the view became overpowered by the smell. For the TOK session, we stood in the back of the cave looking at the cave wall and we were told a story about how we perceive our reality. Once we got used to the smell, we explored the cave, the evidence of a cooking area, a dead bat, and a strange storage structure. For the second TOK session, we walked back to the first cave and we had to create a map for the hike based on our memory of it. Though I couldn’t remember the turns and switchbacks we did, I was able to remember specific landmarks that we saw.
Emily, Louis, Andrew, Iris, and I at the first cave.
After hiking down that mountain, we hiked right back up another one to abseil. We first sat on the top of the waterfall, waiting for the rain to stop and the abseil equipment to be set up. I was the second group of people who went down the abseil. At first, all I could think about was focusing on my hands on the rope and my footing. But halfway down I had to remind myself to look around at the view and enjoy the experience fully. Once I got to the bottom, even though my hands were aching from holding on to the rope so tight and my heart was racing, all I wanted to do was run back up and do it again.
Instead, we walked to the lunch spot by a stream and ate sitting on a rock with our feet in the water. After waiting for the rest of my classmates to finish the abseil we started the walk down. The walk down definitely felt longer than the walk up because we were all so drained. Once we got back, we were happy to clean off, put on dry clothes, eat delicious food, and play card games.
View from the top of the abseil.
On the morning of the last day, we woke up expecting to have to go on a run but the rain prevented us. Instead, after a couple of stretches and breakfast, we split up into our interview groups. My group interviewed a worker at a woodshop close to Borderlands. We learned about his opinion of the dam and the impacts of it on him and others in the community. We also learned about the type of wood they cut and he showed us how to use a machine for cutting the wood into planks. After the interview, we walked back to borderlands and while we waited for the bus to pick us up we sat in the back of a borderland truck and played iSpy. After a surprisingly fun game of iSpy, we hopped on the bus and drove to see the construction of the dam.
The last damable river in Sri Lanka.
After a final stop at borderlands, we started on our bus ride home. This trip was definitely an unforgettable experience, bonding with my grade about leech scares, nerves about abseiling, and funny stories.