Sunday, February 14, 2010

Home from Sri Lanka

My sister Jakky and her husband Michel just returned from Sri Lanka where they met up with my brother Petey and his wife Sharon. Petey and Sharon barely escaped being swallowed up by the tsunami in 2004, but were so captivated by the beauty of Sri Lanka and determined to finish their first vacation, they returned, on several occasions; this one has kept them there all winter.

One of the places they were supposed to stay on their first visit was a hotel in Yalla, but when they arrived they were given excuses as to how the hotel had been overbooked and then sent them to another hotel further down the beach; even bribery could not sway them. This error saved their lives because the hotel, its employees and 149 guests all disappeared when the wave hit.

I am not convinced I would want to go so far for a vacation but Jakky, an experienced traveller, can not get enough of it. Secretly I envy her love of travel.

Here she describes some of her trip........I'm sure there will be pictures coming.

Penny

Subject: Home from Sri Lanka

Date: Sat, 13 Feb 2010 06:57:26 -0500

Ayubowan (traditional Sinhalese greeting meaning “May you live long”),

We're home, and we had an amazing, awesome trip! The beauty of Sri Lanka is surpassed only by the kindness and warmth of its people. I can't wait to sit down and write my memoirs - I took lots of short notes throughout because I didn't want to stop looking around me too long to write lengthy impressions. But I can assure you, they are FABulous!

I wish Sri Lanka were not so far from Canada because I would already be planning a return trip. As it is, with a 7-hour flight from Mtl to London, and another 11-hour flight to SL, plus stopover time and sitting-around-the-airport-doing-nothing-after-clearing-customs time... it's about 24 hours of travel...

Still, I am hoping to go back again, perhaps to stay longer...? I am also hoping that the country will not have been too altered by then. While the economy would benefit from a boost, and there is much untouched and undeveloped beach area (read potential for exploitation), I would be saddened if Sri Lanka became just another cluster of beachside resorts...

Pete & Sharon were tireless hosts and inspired tour guides. The itinerary was planned very carefully and deliberately so that we would see as much of the land as possible in our short time there. We climbed Sigiriya mountain, an ancient temple carved out of the rocky hillside - historically mesmerizing - I felt as I imagine I would feel standing in front of the pyramids of Gyseh - how did they DO that?? We stayed in charming, out-of-the way hotels, visited markets - we even got our very own stalker who followed us around not only from stall to stall, but across streets, through traffic, around corners, all over the city of Kandy! We drove through endless lush fields of rice paddies and mountains of tea plantations... We laughed and got looped at an impromptu Sri Lankan bongo party on the beach with a couple of lovable Londoners in Palm Paradise, Tangalle...

We grieved as we drove through the ruins of communities in Galle devastated by the tsunami and said a quiet prayer for the families as we passed the roadside graves, markers, memorials, scattered pell-mell among the reeds - all that is left of thousands upon thousands of poor, honest, hard-working, unsuspecting people who were swept away at 8:30 on the morning of December 26th, 2004... and we were heartened to witness the resilience of a nation which is rebuilding slowly, painstakingly, but surely and steadily.

We recovered from sunburns on chaise longues as we bargained for batik table cloths, teak elephant bookends, carved turtles and colourful sarongs on the beach in Unamatuna... we ate coconut and corn at roadside stalls... We tried new foods and I, yes I, ate fish and seafood and, for the most part, loved it (still can't stand to see or smell it raw - ewww). I learned to eat with my fingers, although I still don't like getting guck under my nails so I'll stick to a fork. I ate dahl with hoppers and curried everything with string hoppers and loved it! Now I will have to look up recipes, although I know my limitations, so I hold out faint hope of recreating the feasts we enjoyed in Sri Lanka.

Gorgeous, breathtaking, stunning... the usual words fall short of describing it. “Bohoma lassanai” just might do it (roughly translated: very much beautiful).

I just wanted to touch base with you, to let you know that we are back home, happy to see family and dogs, but already missing the warmth and generosity of a gentle people - not to mention Pete & Sharon. :)

Hugs and love,

Jak xoxoxo

Thanks Penny F.

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