Serendib, Ceylon, The teardrop of the Indian Ocean, Island of Dharma, Pearl of the Orient, or more commonly: Sri Lanka. From September-December 2018 I lived in Sri Lanka as a mental health volunteer. I lived with local families, ate local curries, used local transport, participated in local traditions and met local people. The entire experience changed my life (as I have mentioned on so many previous posts) in more ways than I could mention.
By Never did I imagine I would be back in Sri Lanka so soon, after finding myself unable to work due to school closures caused by the Coronavirus in Vietnam. A close friend of mine, Becky, has recently experienced some overwhelming trauma in her life and needed to get away from London; we deliberated on where to meet and eventually concluded Sri Lanka was the perfect place as it is where we met in 2018. My dear friend, is experiencing a lot of pain right now, and meeting her out here to support her healing process has brought us closer. She is an absolute warrior; she is brave, she is strong and she is someone I have aspired to be like since the moment I met her. If I could take some of her pain away, I would in a heartbeat. I’m grateful she has trusted me to be with her during this difficult process.
When I arrived in Sri Lanka this time, the feelings of nervousness and uncertainty from 2018 were long gone; I felt like I was home. Each day I spend so much time with the corners of my mouth turned up it’s a wonder how my face isn’t aching. How to describe Sri Lankan people? They are cheeky, they are welcoming, they are kind, they sometimes have no boundaries, they (mostly) have good intentions, they are spiritual, they are generous and they want you to love their country as much as they do; goal achieved.
Going back to my homestay was so incredible; to see my Amma, Tatta and Kelum (as well as Kitty cat, who is a new addition to the family) was amazing. I got to see some of the impact that the terrorist bomb attack from 2019 has had on them. They have not had any volunteers and my Amma is clearly very sad about this; the house is big and quiet without them. I want to do everything I can to help them, as they have helped me. I have a couple of opportunities to help on volunteer projects and getting these up and running again, which I would be so honoured to be a part of.
In between teaching online with PalFish, I have mostly been a beach bum, trying to get that tan back! I’ve stayed in homestays, hostels, hotels and a Shangri-La resort which absolutely blew my mind. I’ve been eating, sleeping, doing yoga, getting dreadlocks, writing, drinking cocktails, watching sunrise & sunset, sitting by fires on the beach, working and planning. I’ve caught up with old friends and made new ones. Two evenings in a row we saw wild elephants on the side of the road.
I’ve fallen in love with approximately 567 dogs while I’ve been here. I’m absolutely certain this won’t be my last visit to Sri Lanka, and if my finances allowed it at the moment then I wouldn’t be leaving. However, I have been accepted to work for Apax, a private language centre in Hanoi for the next 12 months, so I’m flying back to Vietnam tomorrow and viewing apartments on Thursday.
I’m sitting here on my last night in Sri Lanka, watching the sunset, feeling like I only just got here, and wishing I didn’t have to leave. This place, it feels like a home away from home for me. I’ll be returning to Vietnam, full of intrigue and curiosity; I wonder whether another country could steal my heart in the way Sri Lanka has? I will return open minded, I look forward to seeing my friends and making new ones, and to experiencing the next part of my adventure!