In February of this year I had a job interview in London. Being from Glasgow, that’s quite exciting. What made it more exciting was that the job was to be the manager of a dog sanctuary in Sri Lanka.
I tried my hardest at the interview in the hope that I could stand a chance of getting the job, my dream job. At the time I had been working for a bank for 4 years, dealing with mortgage applications. Not exactly the way I saw my life going when I studied Animal Care at college some 6 years previously. The animal care industry is notoriously hard to get into. Most people who get a job working with animals are in it for life and when a job opening comes up, so many super qualified people apply. So up until this point, other than a few months in a pet shop before college, and a temporary contract in a country park 8 years ago, my animal care career was pretty minimal. To be honest, I was surprised I had even been selected for an interview for the manager job. Not only had I very little animal care experience, but I had zero managerial experience.
After the interview, I fought my way through Londons public transport system and flew home. As my plane was taxi-ing to the runway I saw a Sri Lankan Air plane being taxied to the terminal. I thought that was probably a good sign.
My interviewer, and founder of the charity – Kim, told me at the interview I would hear the following day whether I got the job or not. I did not let my mobile phone out of my sight, and didn’t leave the house for fear of missing a call while driving. Finally at about 8pm my phone rang. I answered it and heard ‘Congratulations, we would like to offer you the manager’s position.’ I actually couldn’t believe my ears. I guess I must have done something right at the interview! Que much ‘Oh my God’-ing and lots of ‘Thank you!!’s. It was to be an initial trial period of 6 months. Pffft, 6 months is no time.
After I found out I had the job, and Kim had confirmed the date I was flying out, I had about 7 weeks to get organised. That meant stocking up on vests and shorts, insect spray and sun cream. Plus packing away my whole life at home (one entire suitcase was just for shoes!) and handing in my notice at the bank (possibly the best day of my life). I had to say good bye to extended family and friends over the few days before I left, which was not as hard as I expected. However I was a blubbering wreck at the airport, hugging my close family goodbye. That was when it hit me. March 21st 2013. I really was off into the unknown. I had never been to Sri Lanka. I had never travelled that far on my own. I had never lived away from home, unable to see my family every day. What on earth was I doing?!?! 6 months? 6 months was a life time!! But there was no backing out now. So off I went. Hello unknown, here I come!
I flew from Edinburgh to London Heathrow, London Heathrow to Dubai, and then Dubai to Sri Lanka. I landed on Friday 22nd March and walked out the airport to a wall of heat and a waiting taxi. Having travelled a fair bit in my life, I wasn’t completely shocked when I travelled through the country from the capital Colombo down to the south west where the sanctuary is based (about a 3.5 hour journey). What I did notice was how tropical the place was. Coconut palms, banana trees, cinnamon plantations, rice paddys. I caught an occasional glimpse of the beautiful turquoise sea crashing against the golden beaches. The sun was splitting the sky and what I had seen so far of the local people, they seemed friendly and cheerful.
I arrived at the sanctuary at about 6pm local time and was greeted by, what felt like, a wall of dogs and people. Looking back it was 5 people, and maybe 15 dogs. Kim was there, Jay the second manager (who only arrived 10 days before me), Eve a volunteer vet nurse and a couple of other volunteers were there. This was it, the adventure begins!
At time of writing I have been here 53 days. On one hand the time has flown past and on the other I feel like I have been here forever. So much has happened since I have been here that there is no way I can remember it all. My intention in writing this is to try and keep track of everything that goes on here, because there is no way my brain can hold onto all the information itself! Plus I thought some people may find it interesting….well it was my mum’s idea, actually. So the next couple of posts I will try and recap as much as possible of what has happened so far, and from there on in I will attempt to do a post every few days recapping what has gone on.