That’s the beauty of travelling. There is no routine. I now have visited quite a few countries, but I’m still sitting on the plane excited like a little kid. No idea what to expect there. Awesome! Just sit there and move away, away from this busy world. Away from all the plans and the calendar life.No Monday to Friday, no fully planned weekends months in advance. Today’s an exciting new day, tomorrow will be another one. That’s all I need to know. I’m thinking about what’s gonna happen. But that’s not really important, things always tend to turn out differently than imagined. Only one thing is certain: I will experience something. Will it be good? Will it be bad? Take away those two words and it makes things much easier. Clear your head and make room for something new. Make yourself be surprised. From life. Get off the plane, breathe in and look around.
So…I breathed in, looked around and I was overwhelmed. As so often. A village kid like me in a busy city, full of tuk tuks and buses, that is simply too much. Thanks to my semester abroad in Ecuador I’m able to dodge the cars like it’s the Matrix, but some roads in Colombo were another level. With no traffic lights and a road wide enough to make a whole action film from one side to the other. Fortunately tuk tuks don’t weigh much and try to avoid a wildlife accident with a big white boy like me.
And if you stop too long on one side, they come from all directions. Your personal tour guides, retailers and new friends. If you walk around with my skin color and aimlessness, you become a target quickly. Later I found out that my first steps were on the main hotel and shopping street and there are plenty of more pleasant neighborhoods in Colombo. And pedestrian lights!
In the districts where there are only a few or no tourists on the road, you really see how friendly the people are to strangers. There’s always a friendly face smiling at you. Again and again they ask you where you come from and how you like Sri Lanka. Colombo is a hectic city, but somehow people are very laid-back and pleasant. Three quarters of the population are Buddhists, I guess that’s one of the reasons for it.
And that’s probably what’s still impressing me the most about Sri Lanka. This optimism, this positive attitude. The country had to endure so much. The 26-year old civil war lasted until 2009 with a bloody end. In addition there was the tsunami that devastated half the country in 2004. I have met so many people who have told me their tragedies and experiences. But somehow no one complains that all this happened. They told their story rather with pride that they have been through all that and that they are still doing well. Often with tears in their eyes, but always looking forward.
And the food is amazing! If you have no problems with a runny nose and spicy food, then Sri Lanka is a dream! They add chili and other spices by the spoonful. It’s an awesome party in your mouth and somehow all taste buds are completely covered. It’s so delicious, you could just keep on eating all day. They mainly serve rice with different curries, made of sauces with meat, fish or vegetables. I had to learn to eat with the hands, it’s not so easy. You only use the right hand, because the left is the ass hand (which I’ll come to shortly). Then you should mix the rice with the curry and form it into a small lump. You take it with your fingers as with a shovel and finally push it with your thumb into your mouth. I’m still struggling with the lump, but shoveling and pushing works quite well.
The small hand shower next to the toilet is for the butt. I knew that. But I had respect for it, it looked like it was quite a mess to use it. How do the clothes stay dry? Sooner or later, I will train that calmly. But at the beginning I prefer toilet paper. That’s what I thought. I know that and that’s what I can do.
But later came much earlier and I suddenly found myself standing in the toilet of a restaurant. I looked at the situation…everything is there, just no toilet paper. It was an unplanned pit stop and there was nothing to do. So what now? I knew I only had a few seconds left to think of something. I preferred to play it safe and just get completely naked. I hung my clothes nice and neat, like in a spy movie. But when I was sitting there bare naked with my hand pressed against the door because the lock was broken, I didn’t feel so cool anymore. If a local suddenly had stormed in, he would have experienced quite a surprise…
But I have to say, it works really well. You hold the hand shower with the right hand and with the left you wipe it off. There’s no way to finish your business more hygienicly! I was really excited and miss the thing here in Germany. What we do here is just wrong and gross!
So, the two hands were now trained and I was ready for my adventure in Sri Lanka. I was really looking forward to getting to know the Good Market and to seeing what I can do there…