It was over. The main reason I found myself in Sri Lanka was all over. Here we sit at the train station waiting for our ride back to Colombo, reflecting upon the events of the past two weeks, and quietly wondering how we’d say goodbye to each other. After all, we had become family over the past few weeks and bonds had certainly been formed. And here we were, in the middle of Sri Lanka, in a village that none of us may very well ever see again, and wondering if we’d ever even get to see each other again. But it was time. The train pulled up. We hopped on, and in tradition, they hopped on with us to help us with our bags and to bid farewell, including Pirinthika, who had never even left Jaffna before this trip, had never set foot on a train before, and the next 5 minutes would ensure that she’d never forget her first time.
As we were getting situated, the train suddenly began its departure without any sort of forewarning. They were all still on the train. While the others were able to jump off, Pirinthika stood in absolute fear straddling the open door as it began to move faster and faster. They were running alongside it on the outside telling her to jump, and I was standing right behind her, at first encouraging her, but then realizing that at this point, the train was moving much too fast and she would likely hurt herself. By now, a crowd had formed around us, and all of a sudden we heard the train begin to shriek before it came to an abrupt stop and jerked us all forward, knocking us out of place. A man came running up yelling “suicide!? suicide!?” They had thought that she was about to commit suicide by jumping out of the train as her arms straddled the open door and they had emergency stopped the train. While we were all stunned, and all the passengers had commenced in hanging their heads out the window to look over at us and see what was going on, it gave her a chance to get off safely. Before even giving us a chance to explain, the train immediately began its departure again, not even affording us a chance to say goodbye properly. It ended in a simple confused wave at each other. And honestly, that was perfect as we called each other right after it happened, laughing our asses off on each end.
Once we arrived back in Colombo, we checked back into the the same Airbnb rental we showed up to in (yes, it was that good…if you’re ever in Colombo, Sri Lanka, check it out), took our first hot shower in almost two weeks (and it was GLORIOUS!), and then ran right back out to indulge in the creature comforts of Colombo that we had not had the luxury of while in the North. This, of course, included drinks. Lots of drinks. We first met up with her friend from part 1 and picked up right where we left off - sandwiches and wine at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel before graduating to double scotch neats, deep intellectual emotional already forgotten what the heck were we talking about conversation, and billiards at the nearby Cheers Pub. Once the pub shut down, we had a tuk-tuk take us down to the beach where we all, including the driver, hazily splashed around the Indian Ocean (another one to check off the proverbial bucket list). Figured why not. It was a very intense past two weeks and we were letting off a bit of steam. Besides, this was our last night together. I had a ticket to board a train to Nuwara Eliya in the central region - the apex of the world’s tea plantations and production.
However, perhaps the final round of vodka-on-the-beach-at-3am part of the evening was unnecessary as I completely slept right through that train. Once I was up and tried to get another ticket for a train the next day, I was informed they were all sold out for the next 3 days. NOT good. This left me with two options - taking a tuk-tuk the 90-odd miles up a winding single lane mountain road (uh…NO!) or hiring a private driver (uh…suuuureee). So once that was set up, it was time to indulge in yet another fine day in Colombo.
We started with a lunch of fresh falafel and smoothies at the expat-friendly Barefoot. After lunch, while Pradeepa headed to her favorite salon to get her hair done did, I decided it was a perfect time to spend a few quality hours with my Samsung NX1 just walking around the streets of Colombo capturing a few street scenes. A woman and her Acupuncture & Surgery Dispensary. Tuk tuk drivers taking nap-breaks in the back of their vehicles. Tuk tuk drivers hanging their clothes out to dry on their vehicles. Vendors selling pastry items out of the back of a tuk-tuk! A collection of images of the bus attendants and drivers, who had a style and panache all their own (I spent a solid 20 minutes just at one bust stop as bus after bus pulled up, dropped off, picked up, and carried on...click this image below for a little slideshow).
As the evening began to draw, we made plans to meet with more of her local friends for dinner. We descended upon the Barracuda Seafood Grill, where a table adorned with a myriad of drool-worthy cuttlefish preparations waited for us on the sand, just mere feet from where the waves were breaking. The dinner conversation was dominated by talk of the evenings upcoming cricket match, the first game Sri Lanka was involved in in the World Cup of cricket. Since they were playing away, the locals wouldn’t be able to see the game until about 3am, and, if you know anything about cricket, the games can go on for hours, so wasn’t scheduled to be finished until about 10am. While the group tried to convince me to stay awake with them to watch the thing, well, no way was I going to let myself miss my ride out of Colombo two days in a row. They didn’t make it easy on me, but I was able to pull away to get back to the flat to take a nap for a few hours before the car was scheduled to pick me up in the morning.
It was time. It was time to journey solo. First stop? Nuwara Eliya in the Highlands. Tea country here I come…
And if you've missed the first 3 parts of this adventure, start with 3 Weeks In Sri Lanka – Part 1 : The Most Meaningful Work I’ve Ever Done
All images and videos for this series of blog posts were shot with a Samsung NX1.
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