Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sri Lanka Update

We've been here four weeks now. We also skipped almost all the cultural, historical, and natural sites/sights that most people come to the country for (Adam's peak, the cultural triangle, World's Edge, safaris in the national parks, etc.).  What we did do was eat--a lot--get work done, and for the last week try to relax by the beach.

The food here is very good, and they always give you far too much.  The novelty of it wears off quicker than in India, though, because there isn't as much variety. Even rice and curry, with its half dozen side dishes, can begin to grow old when it is the same half dozen side dishes every night. We still love the food, we just want a little variety now and then, which is what drove us to KFC yesterday.  I swore off KFC over a decade ago, and here I found myself walking into one with thoughts of spicy fried chicken and no remorse. I suppose stranger things have happened, but that's up there.

We're heading to Negombo today, mostly because it is closer to the international airport and has a modest beach. We're also not looking forward to going back to India. We're trying to book things well in advance to avoid some of the headache of a month ago, but it's already a headache.  For one of the most visited places in the world, India is not tourist friendly at all. Our plan is to find somewhere quiet and cool up in the Himalayas and lay low for four weeks.  Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, it's nearly time to say farewell to Sri Lanka.  There are a few things we missed: I would have liked to see some of the ancient cities, and would very  much have liked to have climbed Adam's Peak at sunrise; Nora would have very much liked to go on a blue whale watching tour, and eat tiger lobster (the last are out of season, unfortunately). But overall we're fairly well pleased with the country, and would recommend it.  It comes with its annoyances--mostly people trying to sell you something, take you on a tour, recommend a hotel, etc., and most of whom will brazenly lie to your face to try to convince you--but these don't seem as aggravating after a month in India.

I read Arthur C. Clarke's Fountains of Paradise while here, and the novel takes place between the future and a distant, only slightly re-imagined past on a Sri Lanka set closer to the equator.  I can see why Clarke loved this island so much and chose to make it his home, and reading his re-writing of history, and seeing how he weaved it into his vision of the future, was an interesting experience. I'm going to miss Sri Lanka somewhat, but convincing ourselves to come back will be a little harder than for many other countries we've been.  A re-visit, in other words, is not high on our list.

This trip has been fairly draining, overall. It feels as though we're always anticipating with dread our next move, because trains and buses and dealing with all the touts is a hassle--though not nearly as much as in India.  It's been a little more frustrating for Nora, who has had to (twice) step down from a moving bus and (once) jump off a moving train--no mean feats for someone with a movement disorder. There's also the stares, which again are not so bad as in India, but still make one uncomfortable. Sometimes it's hard not to feel very dispirited, but then other times we find somewhere we love and can relax and everything seems fine again. We're taking it a day at a time.

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