Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Breath of Cool Air

When I woke up on Saturday morning, the first thought that popped into my head is that it is not supposed to be so hot in October. It, therefore, seems appropriate that I spent the weekend in the coldest part of the country. Ask any Sri Lankan about Nuwara Eliya and their response will almost definitely involve something about the fact that it is unbearably cold there. My amma reminded me multiple times to bring a sweatshirt and socks and assured me that I could buy a jacket, hat, and scarf there. While it was considerably cooler there, and I did get a little bit cold at night (I had to use the warm blanket that was on my bed!), I didn’t need to buy any of the coats or ear warmers for sale all over the town. Besides, it felt really nice to get out of the heat for a couple days.
We took the observation train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. Despite our second class tickets, we ended up in third class, where there are considerably more people than seats. We had to stand for a little while but eventually were able to sit down. I ended up sitting with a 20-year-old girl, her mother, two of her aunts, and a man traveling alone. They were very excited when they found out that I speak a little bit of Sinhala and were eager to talk to me. Even though we all had trouble understanding at times, it was good practice for me and they were very friendly. They even let me sit by the window, so I could have a good view of the rolling hills, waterfalls, and small villages as we passed by. Like good Sri Lankans, when they bought snacks from the vendors walking up and down the aisles, they demanded that I try everything, despite my claims of “baDa Pirilaa” (“stomach is full”). As we were getting close to Nuwara Eliya, the girl had the idea that we exchange addresses so we can write each other letters, so I now have a Sri Lankan pen-pal!

View out the window of the train

On Sunday, we got up early and went to Horton Plains National Park, where we hiked to Mini World’s End, World’s End, and Baker’s Falls. Rather than trying to describe the incredible beauty, I will just show some pictures.
Sarah and Chelesea as we start out on the hike

The view from World's End

Our feet at the end of the world

Baker's Falls

When I got home on Sunday, my neighborhood was full of armed police officers and soldiers, including one at the bottom of driveway. Even though I knew that the president was coming to Kandy and assumed that this was reason for the security, it was a little bit alarming. When I got to my house, I found out the president wasn’t in Kandy Town, where he usually goes, but was in a house just down the street from mine, speaking to about 1,000 people, including my amma, appaccii, and a couple of my aunts and uncles—no wonder the security was so high in my neighborhood!

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