Hopetale to Colombo

August 17

After breakfast, we climbed back in the van to begin the trek back to Columbo.

We stopped at an historic old house and enormous grounds that is now home to a Catholic seminary. I was able to see 3 of the rooms in the house that have been turned to museum. The rest of the place are rooms for the seminarians and the grounds were just gorgeous. My camera batteries were just about out of juice, so I got fewer photos than I’d have liked.

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These poinsettias lined a fence in a Catholic monistery on the grounds of an old English manor house. I was able to tour a small portion of the house, but the rest is for the students and classes.

Once we got to Columbo we headed for a museum, but since it was New Moon Festival (yes, they have this for every new moon!) it was closed and so were all the other places I wanted to see.

We did manage to find another Catholic church of historic significance open in Columbo and I wandered around there for a bit.

Lal then decided to drive along the coast to Negambo. Along the way there was an old fort we stopped at as well, but the police still use the area and it didn’t look too welcoming for a long walk.

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Old Fort entrance in Colombo

There are canals throughout this city and they were built by the Portuguese, which is where the Catholic influence comes from.

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Canals lined the street in Colombo.

Sri Lanka has been dominated by many different countries and cultures, but they do a magnificent job of modeling peaceful and neighborly coexistence with each other.

Since there was nothing else open to see, we went to Lal’s house. It is a tradition for him to take his guests for a final meal at his house to meet his family before heading to the airport. His family are lovely people and I particularly enjoyed talking to his son, who is part of the family tour business. He had some interesting historical insights. He feels that Sri Lanka is unique for such a small island that has been dominated by so many different cultures. It is the only place in the world that Sinhalese is spoken. He said that this bespeaks an advanced culture that is not given credit when visiting the historical sites. He gave very convincing examples, which I am not conversant enough with to include here. However, it is quite a feat in my mind even to have hung onto their unique language.

After wonderful conversation, I ate with Lal and then he took me to the airport. The line for my Emirates flight was snaking all over the airport and was finally broken into two, both of which were not moving. When it finally began to move I started to worry about making my flight, and I had arrived 4 hours prior to departure! I made it through security and onto the plane in time for a slightly delayed departure. Smooth flight to Dubai and a 6-hour layover. I finally arrived in Kuwait around 10 pm and was back home by 11:30 pm!

What a glorious country. I think it comes pretty close to paradise, and I didn’t even go to the beaches!

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…and back to school with the specialists team.

Colombo to Anaradhapura

August 13

I landed in Colombo at a little after 1:00 pm, but sadly, my luggage did not arrive with me. I filed a report, but didn’t have any local contact information. I finally headed out of the airport at about 3:30 pm and hoped that my tour guide would still be waiting for me. He was!! Lal had a beautiful lei for me and it smelled divine! I exchanged some money and then we went to the van. We called the airlines to give them his contact information regarding my suitcase. What I didn’t realize was that there was another five hours of driving to get to Anaradhapura. Finally we arrived after a stop to pick up some toothpaste and toothbrush and checked in to the hotel, and then I had dinner. I was served tons of food (rice and curry) looking out at the pool and a night sky through mango trees. I invited Lal to eat with me. He declined, but sat and kept me company (this was to be the standard practice until the last couple days).

The majority of roads in Sri Lanka are narrow and only two lanes (sometimes only one, and quite hair raising when you meet oncoming traffic). So, the speed limit is lower and it takes longer to get anyplace.