Where: Central, south and west Sri Lanka
When: 18th – 30th April 2017
Who: Russian-Polish girl, Slovenian girl, German guy, Italian guy, Canadian guy and yours truly from RAC Stockholm (and a bunch of Rotaractors from Colombo)
What have we seen: temples, fortresses, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, elephants, macaques, turtles, reeeeaaally long lizzards, a private collection of classic cars, sand beaches, really big waves (at least for us from smaller seas), tea plantations, fruit markets, tuk-tuks and even a village festival where we learned a few dance moves.
Where have we stayed: Hostels, hotels and private homes of Rotaractors. We had to pack and unpack almost every day, but how else would we manage to travel around half of the country? Even the shabbiest hostels offered an excellent breakfast with a lot of fresh fruits, while the hotel surprised me with a delicious chocolate cake for my birthday! Since Rotaractors live with their families, we also had an opportunity to learn more about their family history and even see their family trees.
Cusine: A lot of food! My favourite were pancakes called “hoppers” with palm syrup and coconut milk. I also liked a buffalo curd and specially a big variety of sea food. One couldn’t say no to passion fruit and lime juices either!
Social projects: We brought small presents for boys from underprivileged families. In exchange, they tried to teach us to play cricket.
RAC meetings: Like in Mexico, there was also a salute to the flag, but otherwise it was quite similar to our meetings. We got their club T-shirt and a fanion.
Weird stuff: It’s not uncommon to have servants at home, and it is also not uncommon for servants to sleep on the floor, without a bed or a matress. We were told they prefer it that way. The other thing which amazed me was the traffic. The streets are full of vehicles, people and even animals. The tuk-tuk drivers navigate through the traffic that you start to wonder if their tiny vehicles are even smaller than they seem to be. Creepy stuff includes packs of stray dogs (thanks god, mostly sleeping through the day).
Head bobble: We asked if it means yes or no, but the answer was “mostly yes, but also no”. Something like an ACK signal in telecommunications, it seems.
I didn’t know a lot about this exotic island before the trip, but I have learned a lot, about history, culture, economy and the most important – people! In spite of all bruises, scars and mosquito bites, I am so glad I had an opportunity to join this trip, exchange Rotaract experiences and make lifelong memories.