My first trip to Sri Lanka was a last minute romantic Easter weekend getaway in 2010. We spent some time rummaging through markets in the city then took a leisurely road trip along the coast, visiting sea turtle nurseries along the way. My first scuba diving experience was AMAZING! Our Dive Instructor (Indian version of Fabio) guided us to swim amongst an octopus, giant sea turtles and schools of colorful fish! A local daredevil completed shallow dives for US$1 – amazingly talented for his age. A captivating showman for sure! My favorite night was spent in a bed & breakfast inside the Fort at Galle. Historic and cozy…
I was so engulfed by the warmth of Sri Lanka in 2010 that I jumped at the opportunity to visit again in 2015. This time, as a group trip to celebrate a dear friend’s birthday. I enjoy large groups but also thrive on the local experience. I tend to go off into my own world when traveling… this trip was no different. My journey started with befriending a Sri Lankan on the flight. I was invited to lunch and shortly after, kidnapped to meet his family. Unexpected but lovely chat over tea/biscuits. Thank goodness I had a loaf of fruit bread as a gift. (It’s rude to walk into a home empty-handed). Later in the day, my kidnapper took me to the train station so I could enjoy the most scenic train ride to Unawatuna. The train was filled with college students; I was befriended by a group of engineers. They were very sweet and kept me company on the 15-minute bus ride to my final destination. I finally joined my friends. Quick costume change, washed my face and we were off for fine dining just off the beach. Lots of laughs and goofy hugs. This group loves how fearless I am and [frequently] question how I remain safe when talking to so many strangers. I always have a colorful story to share… “I was befriending on the flight and whisked away on another adventure! Less than 12 hours in the country and I was having tea and biscuits in someone’s home, with their parents!” That’s not normal for most people. I understand that… but, it’s normal for me.
This group is hilarious, they are accepting of everyone and I’m considered their little sister. I cannot remember laughing so much as when I’m with this group. Days are filled with swimming in a private villa whilst watching the sunset change colors over the open sea. Transportation was hilarious because the tuk-tuks were controlled by gangsters. We paid the tourist tax, every.single.time. Morning strolls on the beach was my time to catch up with me. Most of the time, I read Everybody’s Business with my toes in the sand. I think I have a welcoming vibe because, I was soon befriended by another Sri Lankan. He had a peaceful presence about him so I entertained the visit and even accepted an invitation to meet again to learn about Insurance. When the sun fell, it was time for the main event; an Angel/Fallen Angel themed birthday party (I LOVE FANCY DRESS). Everyone went all out with costumes and a fashion show. The planning that went into this event was extraordinary. I hope I still have such good friends when I’m celebrating my 50th! The love was felt all around!
The next morning, my driver offered jewelry (made by his wife) during a 10-minute ride to Galle. I love the hustle of the tuk-tuk drivers. I understand the tourist tax and I appreciate his approach so much more – he charged me local transport rate as long as I bought some jewelry. Always happy to support local business. Same cost to me but now I have a funky bracelet! Everyone wins! I had just enough time to check out some sights (hunting down my cliff diver with no luck) and then grabbed the train back up to Colombo! My ‘kidnapper’ treated me to a delicious local lunch and I invited him to meet some college friends that work with the UNDP. We all chat over tea. I was mostly interested in UNDP pain points so I could learn how to create value. Magic happens when you are in the flow, after tea, we stumbled onto a Rugby Tournament in a nearby park. My kidnapper is a sports buff and introduced me to a National Javelin Thrower (Athlete). A reporter caught us at the game and our picture ended up in the local newspaper. Amazing things happen when you allow the Universe to show you magic. People are unquestionably amazing!
All in all, each visit to Sri Lanka, I’m reminded of the warmth of humanity and the ease in turning a complete stranger into a lifelong friend. Good things happen when you trust the flow and follow the energy.
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