Here’s the handsome couple at Mark’s engagement party. While he’ll never take credit for it, Hans was the real best man on this day helping Mark fix his hair and teaching him a few dance moves.

Today is a sad day.

It’s a day for goodbyes as we wish our good friends Hans and Els well on their return voyage back home to the Netherlands.

While it’s never easy to say goodbye, it’s a day you get used to when you’re volunteering in a foreign country. Volunteers come and volunteers go. That’s what happens in this pretend, temporary life.

As of tomorrow, Trina and I will be the only ones left from our initial group that started over a year and a half ago. We’re the last ones left sweating as Marjorie, Mart, Ely, and now Hans and Els, have finished their placements and moved on to new adventures.

While Trina and I had little in common with any of the people we started this new life with, we developed very special relationships with all of them from the very start.

Because we share a common experience – one that starts in fear of the unknown and then travels through various levels (and degrees) of frustration, confusion, hilarity and joy – we will always be connected. It really doesn’t matter what our differences are, what makes us the same, living this volunteer life in Sri Lanka, is so unique and special that we will always be close, always be friends.

No one can possibly understand our current reality and perspective like our fellow volunteers. Those relationships I will never take for granted.

I’m not sure when I’ll see Hans and Els again, but when I do, I know we will talk and laugh like we did from the first day of Sinhala class. The day when Hans yelled (with a smirk on his face) at the ladies to be quiet (mostly Marjorie) as he was trying to learn a new language and couldn’t concentrate with all the nattering. I just laughed and laughed. And that’s how it went for the next year and a half.

All the best to Hans and Els, and to Mart and Ely, and of course Marjorie (who will be coming back soon) and all the other volunteers who have gone back to their real lives.

You can always give me a buzz if you’d like a chat and a laugh about this crazy little island.

See you soon.

Shaun

P.S. The proper glasses you donated to us our awesome. The gin tastes great in them.

P.P.S. The Dutch peanut butter you gave me is outstanding. You can put that on the same list as clogs and weed for things you guys do better than anyone.

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