Saturday, we had a relaxed morning; breakfast at eight so we could leave for the Chimp sanctuary, Tacugama. The drive to Tacugamawas very adventurous – even though we drove in Land Rovers instead of the minibuses (with absolutely no suspension) we still didn't escape without bruises from the bumpy ride!
We arrived quite early, which gave us the opportunity to read the information boards about chimpanzees. What found out that chimpanzees are our closest living relatives on Earth, we share 98.6% of genetic information. Also, chimpanzees are in great danger of extinction, as they get hunted, kept as pets in dire conditions, and their carcasses sold as bush meat.
After waiting for an hour, we split into two groups and started our tour. Our tour guide, Willy, was very experienced and had a lot of expertise since he had worked there for over 20 years. We were all impressed by Willy's realistic imitations of the chimps' laughter, which triggered a dramatic response from the chimps. Willy also pointed out one of the babies which was only three-month old, which made all the girls in our group go "Aww" and "Ahh".
The tour was a definite success. We were all touched by some of the chimps' stories of being slowly reintroduced into their natural environment after being kept as pets. We shopped in the souvenir store after the tour to look at the local produce on sale. George bought a chimp mask, Owain two African puppets, Miss Brown got an orange vest with chimps printed on it, Esther and Lulu got colourful necklaces, and finally Polly bought a batik bag.
At lunchtime, the newly introduced tuna and egg sandwiches were well accepted, thanks to Owain, George and Polly. We all enjoyed the lunch as the temperature was cooler than the other days. We also took the liberty to have a few (!) group photos under the trees.
We walked through a village in the countryside. We met a lot of children and families, including our driver Edward's family. He has five cute and beautiful kids, and his son really is a chip off the old block. To relax and dress up before the Halloween party, we headed back to IMATT. On the way back, we saw a police 'station' that was about the size of a postage stamp, which definitely contrasts with the English ones.
Most people in the group went into the pool for a chilled afternoon. Esther, Vivian and Jasmine made super yummy Chinese noodles and fried rice for dinner. After that we quickly transformed into scary characters: vampires, spiders, clowns, witches, devils, Harry Potter, zombies and Mr. Meally as Jack Skellinton – all with the help of Ebs as our resident make-up artist.
Chritstine and Mr Meally won the pumpkin carving competition, while Sarah and Hattie both got nominated as winners of the 'best female costume', which Hattie won. Everybody danced their best moves, fuelled by the amazing food cooked for us by IMATT. More fun to come tomorrow!