A blur of winding roads and palm trees and more greenery in each kilometer than I’ve seen in the previous 4 months. Sri Lanka is beautiful. The wealth that we left in Qatar we really left behind. We haven’t seen anything that smacks of the well-to-do. But it’s lively and colourful and lush – and I love it!
As the world sped by I tried to see as much as I possibly could, take in what I could. I thought about all the stories, people’s lives that I was whisking past. All the history and traditions the routine daily lives that I would find so interesting. There was no time for that of course. We had elephants to see.
Also a break from Qatar are the many people scavenging for a living. Echos of our lives in Mexico and Honduras. Every person who approached us had a motive and if we turned our attention, a flicker of hope that their day might be made by a purchase from us. It makes me someone I don’t want to be. It makes me careful to engage and selective when displaying curiosity. Shame.
As you’ll see in the pictures we went to an elephant orphanage and I got up close and personal with these gorgeous gentle giants. I bathed a pregnant elephant and she reached her trunk back toward me, I thought in gratitude. Yes honey, I know what it feels like to be a big, fat elephant with a belly full of life that seemingly sapped the life right out of me. Cool refreshing river water must be such a relief. I loved the babies. There’s nothing quite as cute as a baby elephant.
We had lunch on a terrace and watched as they drank and generally hung out in the river. Dave said (as he does often), we’re sitting overlooking a river, with elephants, in Sri Lanka – did you see this coming last year? Gratitude.
After that we went to a spice garden. I think the tour guide was impressed by my ability to identify most things. I learned things too. I’ve never seen cinnamon growing, or the tree that cloves come from, or cardamom. We heard about cures to take care of diabetes and asthma and hair loss and all kinds of “lady problems” and “men problems”. They demonstrated a cream preparation that removed hair – “no more shaving”. My husband has a bald spot on his leg, and I have an expensive cream that smells remarkably like Neat. Buyer beware.
Then off to our hotel. We followed the road for a couple of hours. More trees, more people walking on the side of the road, more stories being passed by.
The Sri Lankan taxi drivers have an interesting way of driving. Just so you know, the left had is for steering and the right hand for the horn. If it’s been a minute and you haven’t heard the horn…your on a country road. And the horn means way more than “gasp! you’re doing something wrong!” – it means “I’m coming around the corner”, “I’m passing on your right”, “you should squeeze over so we can make this one lane into two…because I’m faster and have important guests”. Occasionally the driver would run his hands around the outside of the steering wheel twice and put his fingers to his lips, and repeat. No doubt some sort of prayer.
I kept waiting for a town or a city to appear but it never did. The paved road ended and we hit the dirt road and my mind scrambled for “what kind of hotel did we book for tonight?” And all of a sudden the most adorable hotel appeared. Ayurveda spa treatments (nothing over $25), buffet dinner, christmas trees…it’s lovely. And the reason we picked it…well that’s for tomorrows adventure. I’ll tell you all about it.
As far as cultural ‘us and them’ observations of the day…why do I keep calling the side of the road they’re driving on the “wrong side”. Idiot.