Whilst at uni, I was lucky enough to spend 2 months gallavanting around Sri Lanka and in a homage to ethnography, I wrote these brief tales about my adventures. The first in the series for your viewing pleasure!
For those who are not in the loop, I have just arrived in Sri Lanka on a 2 month sabbatical as part of my studies. I’ve been here a total of 4 days and the culture shock has been rather intense. Within minutes of dragging my jet-lagged lifeless body through customs at 8.45am local time, you’re greeted with a thousand yelps and lines of tuk-tuk drivers waiting at your beck and call.
Luckily, or so I thought at the time I had already arranged an airport pick up to take me down to Galle, about a 4 hour drive (on a good day), from the capital Colombo. My helpful driver held up a sign emblazoned with ‘Jesska’ and promptly took charge of the rather unyielding baggage cart I had been attempting to push. Once on the road, my rather fragile head was subjected to the literally crazy driving, where the only rule on the road is the bigger you are the more chance you have in making it to your destination alive!
The feelings of trepidation and angst which I had hoped would have subsided by the time I got in the car at the airport continued to increase with each failed attempt of drawing out money from an ATM. By the time lunch came round at 12 we had still barely left Colombo and I couldn’t face the traditional ‘rice & curry’ lunch spread out before me. But I believe the driver appreciated his lunch at my expense.
Eventually, we made it to Galle and the office of Adopt Sri Lanka, where I will be working for the time being. I managed to sort out any major problems with my bank card, waved cheerio to my driver and was greeted by the friendly faces of Bec the GM and the rest of ASL staff. After rapid introductions, we jumped in a tuk and headed for Unawatuna. A surfers and backpackers haven, Unatwatuna clings to the rapidly eroding beach and with lines of swaying palms it is the paradise you dream of on a wet Monday morning back home. I’ve rented the DesRes suite of the Highland Guesthouse which has a very rustic charm indeed, comes with a cold shock shower and a bed which is guaranteed to iron out any back problems! In total it’s manageable except for an ant infestation which I’m reassured comes with any property.
My first evening was spent down on the beach front at ‘One Love,’ the family restaurant of Bec’s other half, Sudu. Traditional ‘rice and curry’ was on the menu and v. good it was indeed. Saturday, was spent at a member of staffs traditional Sri Lankan wedding, or the second stage of it at least – the homecoming. I watched with unbridled fascination as they unloaded the brides dowry from a large removal truck with everything from sofa, brooms and fridge. Sunday was the first day that I had to spend by myself, after a very long lie in, I took a walk to the beach in between bursts of heavy rain to have a cup of tea.
Amongst the odd and overwhelming bouts of homesickness bought on by the stupidest of episodes – like having no gas to boil the kettle, ants in your cereal and sitting in a restaurant by yourself, the country is a beautiful place and I feel nothing but gratitude for this ‘life experience’ as my father wisely calls it. Whether I make it 8 weeks is yet to be seen…