Ayubowan! I am assaulted by heat before I even step outside. After a 48 hour trip we’ve finally arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanka. I have immediately realized how much of a bubble I have grown up in. Growing up and going to an international school in Japan, followed by a small private school in Winter Park FL really robs you of reality. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been run over by a Lambo or complained that the pool was heated a little too much. Talk about #firstworldprobs.
I thought I understood poverty (thanks Dr. Royce), but you never really understand something like that until you’ve experienced it firsthand. I wanted to vomit from uneasiness and have a black hole eat me from in the inside out. It’s a whole other emotion that I can’t quite put into words. A mixture of sadness, guilt, uneasiness, and funnily enough, empowerment.
I thought we were pretty official when we arrived, because we had a woman with our name written on a whiteboard. We cautiously got into a beat up van with no AC for our three hour ride into Kandy. I learned the hard way that Sri Lankans don’t use stoplights, cautious driving is not a thing, and honking is a form of aggression as well as a greeting (and is utilized often). We passed women carrying baskets filled with coconuts, mangos and other foreign fruits on their heads, just like in the movies. Tuk-tuks (imagine them as a contraption similar to if a tricycle and a taxi had a baby) speed by us so crammed with people that kids are hanging onto the back to hitch a ride, and there are so many cows. So. Many. Cows.
Green Lion (the volunteer house) is a little hut shared by thirty some other volunteers from all over the world. I used to think that being Japanese was pretty cool (not that I don’t anymore), but when you’re surrounded by other internationals it all becomes moot. We range from fresh out of high school to forty year olds occupying a range of professions.
But to get to Green Lion, you get off the cement road onto a beaten path. My head slamming into the window I was leaning on wakes me up as we ascend the hill up to Green Lion. Well, later I learned it was a hill. Opening my eyes to the blue skies had me thinking we were driving up a 90 degree cliff. Driving up the hill in a tuk-tuk is even worse, as I found out later today.
No running hot water, no AC, bucket showers, mosquito nets, malaria scares, and 10 to a room. Flies, mosquitoes, lizards, roaches, and geckos as permanent roommates. It’s going to be quite the experience, quite a culture shock, and quite a reality check.