As an expat, I spend a painful amount of time taking long haul flights back home to Ireland or the UK with the kids. So much so, that I could probably navigate Dubai airport blindfolded at this point. At the start of each journey home, I brace myself at departure for the challenge of trying to make the torture contraptions called seats semi comfortable for sleeping kids. I pray that the mediocre delicacies masquerading as airplane meals will be edible for their little palates (they were once given a spicy pasta that would knock the socks off any hardened chilli aficionado) and I know in advance that the inevitable grubbiness that will exude from every pore when we arrive at our destination. A necessary evil to see green fields and breathe fresh air for a while.
This time around it was different. We were off to explore Sri Lanka. Pristine beaches, scrumptious food, cold Lion beer and the warmth of the native people all add up to make an unforgettable first trip to this beautiful island. When we last went exploring to Malaysia, Maeve was a nearly cooked baby in my tummy (4 years ago!) so we were filled with excitement at discovering another culture and way of life on our newest family adventure into the unknown.
Slight madness on arrival as we realised amongst the hundreds of other travellers that we had to fill out entry cards and husband and I had to co ordinate a military style mission to secure one of the two pens available on the counter. But things picked up as we arrived in Hikkaduwa and switched on holiday mode. Things looked even rosier after a few beers and a dip in the pool.
It was Sri Lankan New Year when we arrived. We learned that quite a few people do some sort of sport that weekend and we were treated to a road cycling race as we headed to visit the turtle hatchery. I had to lift my hat to this fella as he slogged it out in the steering muggy heat. Surrounded by a team of supporters he made his way along the main Galle Rd. The lad to his right on the back of a scooter would sporadically douse him with water from a bucket to cool him down whilst the others cheered their hero on and waved flags. But just as we passed he turned his gaze and amidst all his strenuous effort and determined concentration he managed to give me a smile and a thumbs up. This teeny moment probably encapsulates the warmth of the Sri Lankan people and made me smile for days after.
People and places