Sri Lanka is, well, perfect in every way. Just like India, it feels like home to me and I can't help but feel like Dorothy clicking her red sequenced shoes and finally making it home after potentially lifetimes of being away. The landscape is beauty beyond words, the locals are gentle and kind, and spirituality vibrates throughout this mystically jungled island. Our adventure started in Colombo after the most terrifying plane ride I have ever been on. The turbulence had us in literal free-fall at times and there were a number of us meditating on surviving this flight. I sat next to a sweet Sri Lankan man who insisted on sharing all his food and teaching me Singhalese along the way and once we hit solid ground (safely) the entire plane clapped in rejoice for survival! Not being much of a "city girl", Colombo still managed to impress me. We strolled through Buddhist temples, beautiful parks, and went to crystal and gem shops to admire sapphires and rubies but, really, relaxed around the hostel and prepared for our journey to the mountains! The five hour train ride to Dambulla was so serene and peaceful. As you know, of course I had my favorite music playing in my ears and because perhaps I tend to be a little over-emotional, or sensitive rather, I had tears filling my eyes due to the overwhelming sensations and emotions that were spilling out of my body. So excited! Our time in Dambulla was short, with monsoon-like thunder storms, transcendental cave temples with ancient history of Buddhist practices and hiked up Sigiriya rock, an ancient pilgrimage and world heritage site. From the top, we had a 360 degree view of the surrounding lands with large Buddha statues peaking through the hills.
With only one month in Sri Lanka, it was time to move to the next destination so we hopped on an over-crowded, hot, broken bus to our destination 2.5 hours away. The trip cost us about 19 cents each and we were so thrilled for the drastic price change compared to our travel expenses through Africa! We arrived to our hostel in Kandy late in the afternoon to a house full of other expats around our age. We spent the first evening drinking local beers and whiskeys with the other housemates. It was a well-deserved opportunity to let loose for a while after being so responsible for the past month at the hospital. We all talked about travel plans, exchanged information to meet again in other countries, played card games, and went to a ridiculous party with terrible electronic dance music. Kandy is the home of "Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom" or it's where it was filmed at least, so I look forward to watching the movie again when I get home to see all the places we explored in our time there. It really is a wonderful mountain town. We stayed at the hostel for four nights and then moved to a quiet "mom and pop" guesthouse where two of the sweetest hosts took such good care of us. They were in there late 70's, perhaps early 80's. We talked about his life in the military and his wife was so sweet to offer us tea and delicious meals. It was nice to get a change of scenery and move to their home that they so graciously opened up for us.
My favorite part about my time in Kandy, is that we scurried away on a three-day backpacking trip, covering over thirty miles of the Knuckles Mountain Range. We passed through miles and miles of tea plantations and some the most unusual "jungle-forests" I have ever seen, where Palm Trees and Pine Trees grow side by side, you can find pineapples, coconuts, grapefruit, avocado, pepper trees, clove, cardamom, and a number of other delicious edibles. We weaved up and down through the mountains, crossed rivers, and lounged by refreshing waterfalls, finding small villages every few miles. These people live a simple, but happy life. They have everything they need with their tea plantations, rice fields, and the communal gardens they share. Just like most of the Sri Lankan citizens I have encountered, they were a bit shy at first but once you flash a smile their way, a beautiful crescent moon spreads across their face showing their pearly whites, well sometimes not so pearly whites. Either way their smiles radiate through their eyes and they display true happiness. There isn't the desperation that I've seen among the "poor" in other countries. They have little, but they have everything that they need and it is a lesson that I'm continuing to absorb myself.
We are now in a beautiful town called Delhauise and found an adorable guesthouse where our room sits right next to the river, a back patio to soak it all in, breakfast and dinner included, and the jolliest house host I've ever met....all for $17 a night! As the bus drove us into this quiet, holy town, with the bluest lakes and rivers and rolling mountains in the backdrop, we couldn't help but repeat our awe in its beauty. We will hike Adam's Peak, a sacred pilgrimage site, and then continue our journey to a couple more mountain towns. From there, we soak up the sun on the beaches along the Indian Ocean. This world is so amazingly majestic and mystical!!! So ecstatic to be exploring it!!