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Today’s pictures are from a visit to Uganda at the beginning of 2015. I had booked the trip and the tour earlier, not realizing that I would be a Minister by then. But I did not put it off, not least because, as one journalist put it, I was the only Minister doing any work and I thought a short break would not matter.

It did, and when I came back there had been interference which led me to resign, thankfully for the government just got more and more corrupt as well as incompetent. Pity for the system since there was no progress after that.

But Uganda had been marvellous which was a consolation for me if not the country. We had lovely hotels including the fabulous Eagle’s Nest with a panorama beneath us; we enjoyed glorious scenery and the most magnificient sunrises and sunsets; we saw chimpanzees and rhino and the fabulous horned cattle and hippo in profusion; we took a boat up the Murchison River to see its Falls, one of many over that wonderful week; and we went to the source of the White Nile and stood on the equator.

Today’s theme is not really about travel except insofar as staying at home can also contribute to personal development. And in terms of answering that perennial question, what did you do in a time of crisis, I can show here some productivity.

Not really mine, I must grant, for I simply grew a beard and shaved it off and grew it again. But there was great collective effort to prepare and sow a paddy field and also build a hut so in time the grain (one hopes) could be protected from marauders at night. And below my balcony a small room is being added on the platform on which the car might be washed, so that using the road will be avoided.

And we also added a staircase from the little garden on the other side to the balcony at road level.

 

Today’s pictures are from a visit I made in 2013 to the Baltic countries. Though part of the Soviet Union for many years they had each kept their distinctinve identiry.

I spent only two or three days in each, but that was enough to see the principal sights in the capitals, and some interesting sights outside.

In Latvia I had a full day and more in Riga, where I found a delightful hotel within the city walls. The next day I went to the nearby castle at Sigulda and the following day some distance to the Rundale Palace and then nearby Jelgarva with another castle that is now a university.

Today’s pictures are from the place which first developed my love of travel. Unfortunately I have no pictures of that wonderful trip to Madras in 1968 when I was just fourteen, but explored happily on my own while my mother went on to Bombay for a conference. It is described in the first travel narrative on my Facebook, on the 15th of December last year.

These are from a visit in 2017 when, after a meeting in Chennai as it now is, I went on to the hills which I had not been to before, Connoor and Ooty. I also visited Coimbatore, and the Muhumalai wild life reserve.

 

Today, Friday, I cover a theme, birds from wild life parks round the world, though I must confess that, not having a camera that can capture detail, I am as concerned with the scene around them.

The first two pictures, from Yala last year, exemplify this concern. Then there is one close up from Tanzania taken in 2014 and three from Uganda in 2015. Then there are four from Orissa also in 2015 and then another four from Kenya in 2018 including fabulous flamingos. Then there are three from South Africa in February this year, one from a long ago trip to the north of Sri Lanka, and finally the parrots flying home along the river near my cottage, not a good photograph but included here because of the joy the sight offers every evening.

In 2018, I was meant to travel through Madrid to Honduras, but the visa took time and I missed my flight and then had to travel overland, spending time en route since I had a return ticket from Madrid some days later. I was in a bad mood, made worse when my Ipad was stolen, but a few days with a friend in Valencia cheered me up, and then a few days more in Madrid.

So I decided to stay longer when I was able to make use of the Honduras visa a month later. In addition to the picturesque cities of the south of Spain, I had a few days in Madrid in three different transits, saw some sights such as the Cathedral which I could not remember from previous visits, and had two evenings in the Prado and a morning in the Thyssen museum.

These pictures are from those visits. There are none from the earlier one, when I went to the Reina Sophia in Madrid and had a wonderful time in Valencia which included a trip to Xatiba for its castle.

 

I was lucky to have gone to Syria in 2009 before the American blight fell upon that wonderful country. It was a place and a people which took pride in all aspects of its history, unlike the fundamentalists the cynical West encouraged for their own wicked ends.

I started in Damascus, going down too to Bosra for its wonderful Roman remains. Then up to Hama with the Water Wheels and from where I saw the Crac des Chevaliers and other fabulous fortresses. Aleppo where I stayed in Baron’s Hotel of Agatha Christie fame and saw the glorious Citadel and the square of the great mosque and the bazaar now destroyed. I coincided there with my old friend John Harrison, and then went via the site of St. Simon Stylites through old towns on the Euphrates to Palmyra also later the prey of fundamentalists. The range of civilizations we passed through was wonderful, and I am sad that all this could be so easily destroyed.

Generally I have confined myself to 20 pictures in these posts but I have made an exception for Syria for there is so much to highlight.

Today’s pictures are from Mozambique which I visited in 2017. I loved the Portuguese colonial architecture in Maputo, with the iron buildings popularized by Eiffel.

From there we went up to the Gorongosa Park which we had practically to ourselves, with a super driver who made sure we saw lions, and who took us to to promontory for a fabulous sunset.

Then we drove down to Beira where some buildings had survived the war, and after a night in town found a delightful place by the sea which also had a dinky little pool. And for the final night we found a beach hotel south of the river which had to be reached on a crowded ferry for the bridge had still not been completed.

Today, Monday, the pictures are not of a country but of Madola, the estate I part owned. But I had no money to develop it, so it was sold four years ago.

Before that the English Association used to have English teaching projects there, and when those folded up the building was given to the couple, former students, who ran the classes. They did it up and moved in whereupon I did up the old bungalow which was falling apart. I even installed a jacuzzi there, which was great fun, over the four years or so during which I visited there regularly, also dropping in on my aunt who lived in the old family house.

When the land was sold, a few acres were left on which I built a house for the couple who continued to teach in the neighbourhood, with a small extension where I stay when I visit. And I am now trying to cultivate some of the land.

The pictures start with Nirmali Hettiarachchi laying the foundation stone for the new teaching building, and me doing a class in the large hall my father had built when he began vocational training there in the early nineties. These pictures are from over 20 years ago. Then there are two of my first celebrations six years ago for my 60th birthday, which happened in several venues in part so I could include older people who could not travel, in this case my aunt Girlie at the lunch Jothini produced.

Then there are pictures of the house with the jacuzzi, my bedroom with the windows at which I would work, the lovely view at sunset, the regular drinks with Upali in the garden, the pond there into which Lassie and Bloomer would leap in the mornings, after dashing down the hill to greet us as we had our morning coffee on the verandah.

Then there is the lovely ehala tree in the garden of the old school house, which is now on my side though the house before which I stand with Upali and Jothini and Themiya went when we sold the land. And then there are a few views from what is left, including last of all the new house. Before that there is a picture of Sheba, mother of our Toby and Daisy, just after they were born; and also one of their brother Ricky who loves gambolling alongside us and surveying his domain when we walk on the estate.

Today’s pictures are from Bosnia which I visited along with Serbia in 2017. I had been to Sarajevo long ago, in 1972, and also seen the wonderful bridge at Mostar. This has been restored and the boys still jump from it into the river below.

But this time I also had a tour of some superb sites near Mostar, waterfalls and towers and a splendid house by a river emerging from the cliffs.

Rajiva Wijesinha

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