Happy New Year

Trip Start Sep 26, 2006
Trip End ??? ??, 2007

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Thursday, May 3, 2007

The next weekend, Buddhists celebrated the arrival of their New Year. Sri Lankans celebrate the new year with a variety of traditional rituals mostly celebrated with family (bathing for the past year, bathing for the new year, standing on a certain tree leaf, wearing certain colors...). They also set off fire crackers at all time of the day or night, which as festive as it is, is quite unnerving.
We celebrated the eve of New Year eve (why not?) by traveling 4 hours to a natural spring. The journey was definitely the highlight of this adventure, as we had to share the springs with approximately 20 very drunk men (they were in the holiday spirit and probably had never seen a woman in a bikini - ever...). It could have gotten ugly, but the lovely family that we hitched a ride with on the way there stuck around to make sure we were ok. Then they drove us back to the bus stop. The bed of their truck was lined with cushions. It was (and they were) really lovely (most comfortable "public" transport I've had in a long time...).
That night the owner a restaurant near our guest house caught us trying to hitch a ride into town to celebrate the New Year with the local folks. He was so kind as to drive us around, for quite some time, looking for a party. Alas, as we arrived at a community celebration just as it was shutting down. It turned out to be quite a blessing as the few drinks I had consumed had impeded my judgment: I taught AK a few "bad" Sinhalese phrases. Those of you who know AK will not be surprised to hear that AK was very proud of the fact he knew these few phrases and proceeded to articulate them very loudly to everyone present. Soon enough we (stuffed AK back in the car and) were on our way back to the guest house.
We were aware of some New Year's Eve celebrations in a town about 2.5 hours away so the next day we decided to make our way there. Unfortunately, almost everything shuts down on New Years Eve, as everyone is with their families. It was almost impossible for us to get to our destination. Fortunately, one guy had lied to his wife and was going to gamble and drink with his friends near where we were going. He agreed to drive us for a reasonable price. He got us there in just over an hour, which included a stop to buy booze on the black market and one to switch drivers (he was having "mental problems" because he had lied to his wife so he stopped for a drink and his friend drove us the rest of the way). His vehicle actually had seat belts that worked - not that it would have made a difference given the speed at which we were traveling...
I'm happy to report I thoroughly enjoyed ringing in the Sinhalese new year (no dead dogs, no reporting for work...) at a beach party with two great friends.
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