Sunning and sweating in Sri Lanka

Trip Start Oct 26, 2007
Trip End Oct 26, 2009

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I arrived in Sri Lanka on the 19th of December.  It was nice to be back to the beautiful country that I had visited once before, in October 2005, for a mere week.  At that time, I was part of a team of 20 who were volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, to help build house with families who had lost theirs in the tsunami of Dec 26, 2004.  

There have been many improvements since I was last here, and positive changes, but still there are signs everywhere of the destruction of the tsunami, including shells of houses by the beach.  The clean up is taking a long time.  In Sri Lanka, as well as India, I've often thought a waste-management company would clean up (so to speak) if they were able to bring their skills to these countries.

The house I am staying at was built by my friend Alison and her Sri Lankan partner Geeth.  I'd call it more of a mansion than a house!  I am staying in one of four master bedrooms.. with a massive bed, vaulted ceilings and a ceiling fan that provides blissful breezes when needed.  Given how hot it is in general here, the fans are needed all the time! 

Alison and Geeth had a little baby 10mos ago, Sophie.  Sophie was not feeling well the day before last, not eating, or sleeping, so yesterday Alison and Geeth consulted their doctor, and ended up taking her to a hospital in Galle, where after finding little Sophie has a viral infection, they stayed overnight.  They may stay in again tonight. 

All of this taken in their relaxed stride.  Alison is expecting 40 for Christmas.  Two more friends, Deb and Dan, from the UK arrived yesterday morning.  They and I went out for dinner at a beach-front restaurant called The Happy Banana last night.  I had a beer (gasp!) the first alcohol to pass my lips in about 4 weeks.  I have a whopper of a headache today, surely one beer couldn't be the cause?!

Christmas in Unawatuna was a sunny, sensational experience.  Deb, Dan and I went for a Christmas day dip in the ocean, and followed that with a lunch at a beach-side restaurant.  Despite the worry that Sophie's illness caused, both Ali and Geeth were calm, cool and collected in the lead up to their Christmas dinner party for 40.  The 40 turned into 50!  Ali's friend Stacey, who was getting married on the 27th December, and her caterer father cooked and helped serve up the beautiful buffet turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  Many of you know of my fantasy of losing half my body weight while on my world travels.. I have to say given the beautiful food and the slow pace of my current life, I am more likely to return twice the size I started out! 

A friend of Alison, Linda Johansson, is an enterprising Swedish woman splitting her time between her beautiful home here in Sri Lanka, and her make-up and production business in London.  She arranges magazine photo shoots, and also is a makeup artist.  She had a jolly notion, while at Allison's Christmas dinner, that we stage a Bollywood photo shoot of ourselves in sumptuous Sri Lankan sarees.  I had shared with Linda and Alison my Bollywood adventure in India, and I think Linda was keen to add to that with a saree shoot.  Of course I was game, as were Allison, Linda's mum Siv, and another Swedish friend of theirs.  You can read about that funny afternoon in the entry "Saree Sisters on Tour in SriLanka."

BBC country profile here

Full name: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Population: 19.4 million (UN, 2005)
Capital: Colombo (commercial), Sri Jayawardenepura (administrative)
Largest city: Colombo
Area: 65,610 sq km (25,332 sq miles)
Major languages: Sinhala, Tamil, English
Major religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity
Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 77 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: Sri Lankan rupee
Main exports: Clothing and textiles, tea, gems, rubber, coconuts
GNI per capita: US $1,160 (World Bank, 2006)
Internet domain: .lk International dialing code: +94
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