A ride through Paradise!

The boarding for our flight Abu Dhabi-Colombo already started but we are still in the airport grabbing some food before we leave. I am stressed as always, keep looking at the time and the screen in front of me, asking Abdulla if we are going to make it. Relaxed, he is waiting for his burger and seems already used with his Miss Stress attitude whenever she is under pressure. We make a deal to change the seats so I won’t be able to see the departure screen anymore.This little trick suppose to work but I can still hear every second ticking on my watch and my mind is invaded by million scenarios.
I am happy to see that our different characters complement each other well and we manage to solve every puzzle of life; when one of us curves out the other one curves in. Even the condiments on our table witness that. I like mayonnaise  and I hate ketchup while he loves ketchup but he hates mayonnaise. I wonder what will happen if both of us will be the same?? I guess we would have to fight for the last drop of ketchup every day.

 

Are we going to catch the flight?

 

The driving from the home to the airport was another adventure which pushed my adrenaline to a high level. Coming from a flight in the same morning, I took a quick shower and I arrange the last toiletries in my suitcase (which was ready with one week before our holiday). Meanwhile Abdulla, agitated, was trying to do 10 things in the same time. “Baby i dont have any new clothes to wear, we have to go shopping”. We have to go shopping??? Three hours before our flight we have to go shopping…

 

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“Dont worry I have everything under control, every minute is calculated we are going to make it on time”. In that moment I was too tired to protest and I decided for the first time to stop controlling the course of the events and make myself confortable in the car seat waiting to see how this story will end. Our first stop was the laundry where Abdulla drop off some clothes then the mall. Luckly after 2 shops and less than half an hour wasted we were heading to the “Raw place” to buy my baby’s favorite juices and then straight to the airport.
The waitress finally brought our order and while Abdulla is eating his burger in rush, I decide to take mine away, planning to have it later on the plane, once all the stress of the day is gone.
By the time we reached the gate, all the passengers where already on board and the ground staff was waiting for few more people lost on the way. We were two of them but finally I could breath relaxed. “Welcome to the passengers world” , my baby is teasing me.
Now, I really need a holiday, I am telling to myself and I sleep peacefully with the head on my baby’s kness until we touch down in Colombo.

 

Homeless in a totally unknown city

 

Its already night and we have no place to stay and no further plans. Pulling our bag through the airport, we are wandering with no direction, feeling homeless for the first time in our life. We find a travel agency and look over the wide offer. We have only 4 days starting with tomorrow and it’s crucial to  manage our time properly. I have a long list with things that I want to do but unfortunately we have to give up on most of them. The driver is taking us to our first location, a hotel in Negombo where we will spend the rest of the night.
Early in the morning I am opening the balcony window hopping to get some fresh air. The view is just amazing and my first instinct is to call Abdulla “baby come to see”. The blue ocean is facing us fearless, full of splendor. “Wow”, he describes everything with only one word and we are sitting there for a while, lost in the calm of the blue water. Few chinesse tourists start taking selfies inside of their terrace and we decide that is time to leave.

 

 

The driver is waiting for us in the lobby but we take our time exploring the small beach in front of the hotel and grabbing some coffee.
Rohan, our driver, is a 40 years old sri lankan man, humble but clean dressed and very educated at a first sight. Respectful he introduced himself and present us the itinerary for the day ahead. We are going to drive more than 3 hours to reach our destination: Sigiriya, the most visited place in Sri Lanka.
The tiny road makes it way throurgh the palm tree forest and we are delighted by the view. Everything around us is full of color, full of life. The locals already started the daily work on the rice plantation, fighting with the heat and the thirst, probably cursing their unlucky faith.
We are watching the whole activity with envy, thinking how blessed they are to be so close conected with the nature every day.

 

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We check in a new hotel and the driver gives us 30 minutes to refresh in our room. After the long way and the heat from outside I just colapse in bed, powerless, wishing for one hour of sleep, which is just impossible right now.

 

Sigiriya, the eighth wonder of the world

 

Sigiriya or Lion Rock is a huge stone, 200 meters high, surrounded by beautiful gardens and fountains. It was used as fortress by the king Kashyapa (probably an atletic person) who didn’t mind climbing for 2 hours to reach the palace. His enemies should have been brave enough and armed with pacience and physical strength before even thinking to asault the fortress.

 

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In present the guardians are replaced by few crazy monkeys which protect the stairs from down to the top and make sure the tourists are leaving without their belongings. Even if you are lucky to pass them without any scratch or bite the danger is not over yet. Hundred wasps are resting around the garden and they can be easily disturb by any small noise. The tourists don’t seem to notice the numerous boards which indicate the wasp presence and they are being loud, laughing and chitchatting on their own language.
I am walking slowly and quiet, trying to avoid the attention of any unwanted “host” while Abdulla is making his “documentary” about the wild beauty of Sri Lanka.

 

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Exhausted by the heat, humidity and the heavy bag that I am carrying, I start feeling dizzy and losing my balance with every step. I am going to faint soon if I don’t relax in the shade for a while. Neighter the spiral stairs in front of me encourage me to continue but I have no other alternative. I am climbing slowly with huge effort until we reach a flat surface of the stone.
From the top we have a full view over the terraced gardens and the lakes and we have no doubt why Sigiriya is declared one of the world wonders.

 

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The side walls are covered with colorful frescoes which depicts semi nude virgins who seem to belong to the king’s harem. To protect their identity or preserve the ancient art, the photography here is strict forbidden. Beside the paintings, over 1800 pieces of prose and poetry certify the glorious past of Sigiriya and were scratched in the mirror wall more than 1600 years ago by the important personalities of that time.
It is said the mirror wall was so good polished that the king could see himself whilst he was walking alongside it.

 

 

After almost two hours of climbing we reach the Lion gate, used long time ago as the entrance of the palace. Unfortunately when we thought our journey is over, we realized there are more stairs to the top. Our first thought  was to give up and start the long descend back but the curiosity pushed us to continue.
Once on the top we found the beautiful ruins of an elaborate palace and the remainings of the cisterns cut on the wall.

 

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We are rushing to the parking area, making our way through a gang of gangster monkeys which literary spit on us instead of goodbye. I stop in the middle of the way, panicated, screaming at Abdulla to wait for me.

 

The encounter with the wild elephants

 

The day is not over yet and the next check in our “To do list” is the elephant safari. We’ve been told that sunset is the best time for it, the period when the elephants are going out looking for food.
Herbivorous animals, these giants can still attack people whenever they feel their privacy is invaded. The safari guide is relating us some scary stories about his encounter with the wild animals and I can only hope that elephants are going to sleep longer today. They are powerful  animals which can easly turn a car upside down and injure a person to death. The far most interesting fact about the elephants is that they never forget. So dont you dare to piss them off because one day your roads might cross again…

 

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Only few elephants are out for dinner today and they dont seem to notice our presence. We keep the distance though, trying not to be the undesired guest on their table. We give up after few hours spent in savana trying to catch a good shoot with the huge creatures and we decide that is time to leave.
On the edge of the road a big surprise is waiting for us. Few groups of elephants are searching for food and water, offering the tourists an exceptional view. A page of the jungle book is writen just in front of us.
My excitement is replaced by a short moment of fury when I realize that all my photo cameras are out of battery and the phone has no memory left. I am deleting the old pictures fast, trying to immortalized the new moments in some low quality pictures. After the long, tiring day my nerves are extended to maximum and I am being moody which makes Abdulla fells unconfortable also.

 

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One kiss, on top of the car, with the wind waving in our hair, surrounded by the elephants and the wild savana is enough to remember the feelings that brought us here together. We are again two ants in the middle of the Indian ocean, two ants who needs a good sri lankan massage.

Time for massage in a rustic sri lankan place

 
The Spa in the hotel is going to close soon and our driver is recommending us another place for massage, dowtown. The salon looks modest from outside while the inside corners are “decorated”  with natural spider web and  few playful bugs. None of us mind this demonstration of the nature and we enjoy our moment of relaxation, aware that we have three more busy days ahead.
The night is short but we still manage to get few hours of rest, sleeping like two rocks. The wake up call is given early in the morning by a strange sound which seems to be a frog. I am waking Abdulla up, asking him to check the room but he finds nothing. Listening carefully few more minutes we figure out that the noise is coming from the balcony. I open the door expecting to see anything but not a bird. We are laughing delighted by the discover: “obviously this poor bird’s singing sucks”.
Packing the suitcase again, we are ready to go for a new adventure. We compare ourselves with the gypsies who can’t never settle down, traveling from a place to another and it feels just great.

 

My lottus flowers, delicious dinner for the monkeys

 

We stop in Dabulla, for a short visit to one of the biggest Budist temple in the area. My baby is buying pink lottus flowers from one of the street vendors, making me a huge surprise. The flowers that I admired and photographed with passion on the Sigiriya lake are now on my arms and my happiness is blossom in the same time with them.

 

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Wherever the tourists are, the monkeys hang out as well, waiting to win some food with their cuteness. My flowers looks appetizing and one of the monkey is fighting with Abdulla for the lottus, chewing it with gladness once she won the battle.
For monkeys comunity is the time to relax, hiding from the torrid afternoon, they are spoiling each other with a back massage, a scratch/kiss in the ass, brushing their tails or having a small snack from the waste bin.

 

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Bored in Kandy, we are planning to go back home

 

Decided to not lose any more time in the temple we are hitting the road which takes us to Kandy, the second largest city, after Colombo, located in the mountain area. The city was highly recommanded to us but we found it dissapointing. The travel agencies displays pictures of Kandy taken during the festival period, which shows a glamourous city full of life and colour, with elephants walking on the middle of the street wearing shiny finery.

 

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Don’t get me wrong, the city is clean and has a beautiful lake and park but it doesn’t worth wasting your time while there are so many other places to be seen. Meanwhile in Kandy, we attend a show with traditional dancers from different regions of Sri Lanka, a performance with an epic end: playing with the fire.
Hungry, we both agree of having some paneer and paratha bread for dinner, the only indian dish that I like but we end up trying a lot more food than we planned, including the sri lankan Jack fruit. Even if I’ve seen it so many times in the supermarket I never imagined that it can be cooked as a curry dish and actually can taste delicious.

 

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We are a little bit bored after this day but no one of us wants to admit, afraid to not upset the other. The attempt of changing our tickets for an earlier departure fails and we try to stay possitive, browsing the travel magazines, hoping to find something exciting for the next days.
My baby’s satisfied look from the first days is gone now and I dont know what to do to bring it back. I am trying to convince him that tomorrow we are going to have fun even if I feel like I am tricking both of us.

 

Nuwara Eliya, a heaven with aroma of tea

 

With a lack of energy and excitement we are meeting Rohan as usually, early in the morning and we start our drive to a new destination, Nuwara Eliya. The region was colonized by the British which tried to transform it in a typical english village, covering it with tea plantations and entertainment places such as golf courses and horse ridding.
We are in the kingdom of the tea and our visit in Ceylon country would not be completed if we would miss the oportunity to see how the tea is made. A sri lankan lady wearing a traditional yellow sari welcomes us in one of the tea factories and she is explaining step by step the process which transform a tasteless leaf in a delicious and healthy tea. After the whole presentation and the final tasting we are capable to differentiate the quality tea from the “dust”, which is selling to us in the supermarket.

 

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Finally our enthusiasm is back and we enjoy the drive on the serpent road from the base to the top of the mountain, jumping from an window to another, trying to catch the best pictures. The view is breathtaking, a piece of heaven in different shades of green animated by the slow movement of few old ladies who are working peacefully on the plantation. They are taking small breaks every time when a tourist is passing by, happily waving their hands. Some of them, “blessed” by the nature with photogenic features are sitting in the middle of the street, hunting the tourists who are willing to pay for an unforgettable picture with them.

 

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Before living the “Little England” we make a last stop to the Gregory Lake, an artificial lake with a scenic view, the perfect place for recreation before starting our long drive back to Colombo. A new “friend” is approaching and it is watching me with relief; “finally a moment of peace” he might seems to think and I can guess he had a long day entertaining the energetic kids, who are jumping arround restless the lake.

 

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A quick visit in the hot Colombo

 

Close to midnight, after more than five hours spent on the way we finally reach Colombo and we agree to visit the capital city the next day before the flight. Rohan, our driver makes us a kind invitation to his home and we accept it enthusiastic.
We spend the morning in the city, visiting some famous temples and churches but my baby looks exhausted by the burning sun and doesnt seems to enjoy much. Curious to see how Mc Donalds taste in Sri Lanka we stop by the famous fast food and pick up something quick.
Wearing some colored clothes and a hair style with asian influences doesnt make me pass unobserved. The locals are stoping me often, admiring my exotic look and asking for pictures.

 

 

Warm welcomed in a sri lankan familly

 

Rohan’s house is located in a village close to the airport and we are really excited to stop by for coffee. Entering the thin alley which leads to his place we are amazed once again by the beauty of the nature thinking how nice would be to wake up in here every day, having breakfast in the garden, under a palm tree.
His wife and the two daughters are waiting for us in front of a small yellow house and the whole picture seems to be captured from a fairy tale book.
They apologize for their humble lifestyle and the ladies are running up and down to prepare tea and sweets for us. We assure them that we feel amazing and we are greatful to be so well greeted in their home. The electricity is temporary cut (today and almost every day), the air is humid and irrespirable, the AC is just a dream and they are making efforts to pay every month for the rented house.Two dusty teddy bears seems to be the girls only toys and by the old looks I can guess they belonged to their parents childhood. Few framed pictures are placed all over the living room; Rohan’s wedding, the girls baptizement, his parents pictures, all of them proving once again how rich these poor people are.
The tea is on the table together with the sweets and we are trying to change few words with the girls but they dont understand english well. One is eight and the other one twelve but their innocence and shyness makes them look even younger.

 

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We are taking a souvenir picture together in the backyard and we promiss to keep in touch once we reach Abu Dhabi. Before saying goodbye I am searching through my clothes and find two necklaces. I hang it to the girls neck as souvenir and they kiss me with their eyes in tears. We are passing through the same beautiful alley leaving the yellow house behind while the kids are still waving their hands. What we feel is indescribable and we keep thanking to Rohan to share a small part of his life with us.
We are taking a souvenir picture together in the backyard and we promiss to keep in touch once we reach Abu Dhabi. Before saying goodbye I am searching through my clothes and find two necklaces. I hang it to the girls neck as souvenir and they kiss me with their eyes in tears. We are passing through the same beautiful alley leaving the yellow house behind while the kids are still waving their hands. What we feel is indescribable and we keep thanking to Rohan to share a small part of his life with us.

 

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We reached the airport and once again it’s time to say goodbye but we know very well that every goodbye brings a new HELLO in our life.

 

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