I am coming to the end of my epic 91 day Midlife Crisis trip, and what an adventure it has been. By pure chance every time I have moved on I have enjoyed my adventure more and more. And, most importantly, my accommodation has got better and better. You may recall that in Nepal I had a cow shed with mattress and barely a bathroom, in Goa I had a bed with legs, and hot water, but no air conditioning, and in the Maldives I had air conditioning but no hot water. This was so cruel. Jumping into an ice cold shower after working in 33 degrees heat was hideous. Still, I did learn how to shampoo and condition my hair in 19.6 seconds. So here I am in Sri Lanka, where I have my own apartment with hot water, air conditioning, a double bed and a garden. There is a God! I am so pleased that I ended up here, rather than started here, as it would have been so depressing if my living quarters had deteriorated every time I moved on.
My first impression of any new country is what I can see from the plane as it comes into land, and what I saw when landing in Sri Lanka was GREEN! The land is a lush, verdant mountainous jungle, with roads and towns carved into it, and a stunning coastline of endless beaches. It is actually paradise, and definitely the most divine place I have ever visited. The scenery is enhanced by the beauty of the locals. They are such kind, helpful and respectful people, who are so proud of their country. This little island was ravaged by civil war for 26 years, and devastated by the 2004 tsunami, but it has such dignity. I am friendly with a young guy, Banty, who was by his house on the beach when the first enormous tsunami wave came crashing in. He sensed something was very wrong, and ran to his uncle’s house, which was on a slight incline. After this wave, the sea retreated so far that the distant coral reef was exposed, and turtles and fish were left stranded. Locals flocked onto the beach to plunder what they could, and then 20 minutes later the second massive wave hit and drowned 30,000 people. Banty and his family just watched in horror as everything they owned, and many of their friends, were just washed away. It took 8 years before they could rebuild a new home and bar on the beach, but they now own the famous Dalawella Beach Dream Cabana with its famous swing, which people flock to from all over the world for that Insta shot.
The tropical climate here is perfect for the country’s biggest export, Ceylon tea. Acres and acres of plantations are sliced into the hillsides and workers continuously pluck the green tips which end up in my mug in Lingfield, a few months later. Last weekend I did ‘the most amazing train journey in the world’ from Kandy to Ella. This was utterly fascinating. Firstly the train was so antiquated and cramped, and despite barging on board, and knocking as many Germans flying as I possibly could, I still had to stand for the first two of the seven hour trip. There is no train ride like it. We climbed through the tiered plantations, passed stunning water falls, dipped into the jungle and stopped at dozens of beautifully preserved little stations, complete with flower beds and station masters in white uniforms and gloves. All the while a steady stream of locals passed through the carriages selling hot food such as samosas, chilli nuts, and flatbreads which were accompanied by flasks of hot sweet chai tea. It beat a miserable Southern Rail sandwich any day. And the cost of my 7 hour train ride? £1.50.
As you have probably gathered, I am a little in love with this place, and on top of that, my work here at the dog rescue centre has been so rewarding. Happy and heart breaking, in equal measure. Yesterday a dog came in which had been bitten by a python, he survived, but the one who was hit by a train, didn’t. It is easy to get desensitised to all of the daily amputations and mutilations caused by road accidents and cruelty, but I actually think you have to, in order to keep going. I did have 4 lovely doggies on my list to adopt and bring home. Husband will be pleased to hear that when I got a freight quote of £7000 each, even extravagant menopausal Jayne drew a line.
So it is with very mixed feelings that I will say my doggie goodbyes tomorrow and head back to my life in Lingers. At least packing won’t be as stressful as on the way out. I have jettisoned all the Glamorous Granny kit, it is all way too big for me. In fact I have lost so much weight, I could come home as hand luggage. Can someone find me a steak the size of a small cow for Sunday please? I have one hell of a lot of meat eating to catch up on as well as the almond croissants…