Early before the sunrise, team Vietnam and team South Korea arrived to the hotel premises, marking of the start of the day. Arrival of those teams gave more spirit to start the day with extra power. Climate was better than that of the previous day because the low pressure zone created in the Arabic sea, was moving away from the country. It was a wonderful chance for all to observe the surrounding.
Canal and the Sea
The hotel was located close to the sea, so a beautiful view of the Indian ocean could be seen from the hotel area. As previously mentioned, the Wattala beach is also nearby. People go there to watch the sea waves that run towards the coast and break up, making water bubble continuously. Fishermen boats could be seen in the sea. Near the Negambo lagoon, lies the very famous Muthurajawela wetland. According to the folks, in ancient times it was a large and famous paddy field. High tide brings seawater from the ocean into the wetland, and the continuous mixing of these two waters over many years has led to a brackish, integrated coastal ecosystem that is biologically diverse and teeming with life. Numerous types of birds and butterflies could be seen there.Not only them, crocodiles,lizards and some rare types of mammals also could be observed there.
In between these marshes, the Hamilton canal is found. To trade cinnamon and other commodities, King Veera Parakramabahu VIII had constructed the canal upto the Negambo port, which was the main sea port at that time. Afterwards, the Dutch developed it but the British agent that arrived in the year 1802, suggested to build another canal, which flows few meters away from the east of the hotel.
Leisure and Friendship
With the sunrise, there were preparations to start a new programme in the hotel area. The rainy environment was getting away and it was a better chance to get to know others and motivate everyone present. After a pleasant breakfast, competitors and team leaders gathered to participate in this new programme organized by hotel. A person came in as an animator to conduct the session. There were many activities in it. It was a well organised session that created friendships among participants.
At the end, there was a cricket match in that area. As Sri Lankans are very fond of cricket, it was well arranged and a good atmosphere for the match. All were trying to do well in all the fields, batting, balling and fielding. It was very significant because some of them played cricket for the first time in their life as a limited number of countries in the world play cricket. Yet, this time all played this game. It was very helpful in building up team spirit among the competitors and it worked as an orientation programme indirectly. Meanwhile the Sri Lankans in some groups were trying to introduce Sri Lankan culture to the foreign visitors along with their abilities!
Glamorous event started at another place
When the evening was drawing to a close, there was preparation going on for a huge work in another place. That was for the opening ceremony of the International Astronomy Olympiad 2018. To prepare for this, all most all the members of the IAO media team had gone to the Eagle Lakeside hotel at Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia. It was well decorated when the teams arrived.
All teams and guests were welcomed by kandyan dancers and ‘Magul Bera’. After that, all teams arrived and the ceremony started with the arrival of the honorable chief guest. The traditional oil lamp was lit and the national anthem of Sri Lanka was played. As the chair of the local organizing committee, Prof. Chandana Jayarathne delivered the welcome speech and the chair of XXIII IAO, Dr.Michael G. Gavrilov explained about this competition. After that, the introduction of the teams participating in the contest started. All teams were introduced with their national flags and country name, dressed in national clothes or formal wear.
During the occasion, a video shown of ‘The evolution of Science and Technology in Sri Lanka’ got special attention of everyone gathered in the hall. It brought pride to all our country people and gave a good view about our country to our foreign friends.
Also, the ceremony was made colorful with traditional dances and traditional drum contest. Not only that, the Sri Lankan self defense figthing style performances; ‘Angampora‘ also grabbed attention of all. In the end, the vote of thanks was done by Dr.Chinthake De Silva, on behalf of the organizing committee.
Thus, this marked the official start of the XXIII International Astronomy Olympiad. Here I pause, awaiting the dawn of the next day.
Image Courtesy: FOSMedia