We slept in our own bed last night, for the first time in over two months. The journey back went like clockwork, thanks to the help of friends and the services of Jet Airways, but it was long. We calculated that by the time we went to bed, we had been up for over 24 hours.
The house feels unfamiliar. For one thing it’s quiet, there is no noise from outside apart from traffic – no music, no chanting, no loud crowing or whooping of exotic birds. It’s also curiously light for such an overcast day: we have big windows compared to Sri Lankan homes, with no complicated draperies over them. We design to maximise light whereas Sri Lankan houses need to limit the sun and maximise the airflow.
And it’s so much cooler! We’ve come from Colombo during its warmest season, when even the locals complain of the heat and humidity, and here I am wrapped in my dressing gown with the heating on, having just lit the woodburner. Outside the apple trees are in blossom but we’ve missed the plums. If we’re quick, we’ll catch the bluebells in the woods. We are told the weather has been cool but very dry lately.
We’re about to have our first cup of tea (unsweetened!) and Alex will have his favourite redbush, which we couldn’t get in Sri Lanka. As we slowly unpack we will reflect further on our travels – how many people have entered our lives and given us their friendship, and how much richer we are for it!
I leave you with some images of Sri Lanka that will always stay with me:
Standing on the beach dripping wet from the sea, sipping hot kola kande (the most delicious thin porridge drink) and nibbling on a piece of jaggery;
A cow ambling down the road traling her frayed tether, looking pleased with herself;
Another cow strolling though Jaffna market at the end of the day, appearing to know exactly where she is going;
The whoop-whoop of small birds in a sunlit garden;
Long talks with old friends, reminding us why they matter so much;
Finding good food in the most unlikely places, as well as in Arlene’s bountiful kitchen;
Can I even bring myself to love the dreadful renditions of Für Elise by every bread van in the land?
The long hoot of trains warning people to get off the tracks;
The perfectly balanced indoor-outdoor designs of architect Geoffrey Bawa, making the most of the tropical light;
Swimming as often as possible: on a sandy beach, under the ramparts of Galle Fort, in a pool by a waterfall.
A small ginger cat making herself at home with us
A long train journey spent eating Janitha’s sandwiches while enjoying spectacular views.
Eating bananas from Bala’s garden
The sheer variety of bananas, especially the “sour” ones which are so sweet!
Where else can you find wood apples, never mind make an English-style crumble with them?
Watching the “performance”, that is to say, the sunset from the garden at Bandarawela.
Dozing on a crowded bus as it hurtles through the countryside, dance music blaring.
The strangeness of being dependent on people for translation from Tamil or Sinhala, when I’m used to being the linguist who translates for others.
The buses that stop at the Hindu temples to allow the driver and conductor a quick prayer and blessing before driving on.
Buying fresh wadei (fritters made with yellow split peas), still hot, on the train or bus.
Long, intense conversations with stangers and friends about all aspects of life in Sri Lanka.
A big thank you to all of you have made these things possible: by looking after hour home, church, cars and animals in England, by hosting and looking after us in Sri Lanka, by introducing us to people, by cooking for us, by driving us around, by befriending and praying for us. We will never forget Sri Lankan hospitality, and hope to learn something from the kindness and fortitude of this wonderful people.