Red

Galle and Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Both the road and train to Galle hug the western coast of Sri Lanka, with nondescript villages and beaches (and the odd low-key resort) lining the route. I could only watch as they flitted past me on my bus ride to Galle — sacrifices needed to be made, with only 11 days in a country.

Only a few days in, I notice that most people in Sri Lanka are pretty smiley. I get on a bus, people smile at me. Someone takes the seat next to me, they smile at me. Indeed, one man did just that, but then struck up a conversation. Shukry introduced himself, and after the usual pleasantries of “where are you from?”, “where are you going?”, and “do you like Sri Lanka?”, gave me a warm welcome. A local gem seller himself (one of Sri Lanka’s more famous exports), he lit up when I mentioned where I was from; he has family in Chicago and Toronto. And that was enough for him to invite me to stay at his house, where his son was already hosting a German friend for the past month, and where he has direct access to the water, a boat, and some jetskis on hand.

Why did I not take that offer?! I’m stupid. But nonetheless, I’m struck by how open people are to strangers here.
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