Arriving in Sri Lanka

26 06 2011

“ The mind is everything; what you think, you become.”

~Buddha

By Lauren Beaudry

Beautiful in both its landscape and its culture, Sri Lanka is a land far far away. I know this because it took me 3 ½ days of travel to reach my final destination in the city of Galle, Sri Lanka. Mind you, my trip here included a two-hour delay of my first flight (while I was sitting on the plane), missing my second flight (to India, not good), a 24hr overnight stay in NYC (after working for 5 hours with US airways to rebook my flights), and a 9-½ hour time change. If everything were to have run smoothly, I could have made it here in a day and a half. One miraculous thing about my journey was that despite all of the delays and switched flights, I managed to receive ALL of my checked luggage when I arrived in Colombo! I was so excited to see all of my bags come out on the luggage carousel that I threw my hands up in the air and started jumping up and down…….I’m pretty sure most everyone thought that I was crazy, but luckily it was late at night so there weren’t very many people around.

Despite my travel woes, I have been treated with nothing but kindness since my arrival in Sri Lanka. Being surrounded by kind and welcoming people has definitely helped me adjust to day-to-day life in this foreign land. Though I have been here for 3 weeks now (a little delayed with this first post), and am now feeling a little more accustomed to life here, it took some time for me to feel comfortable in my new surroundings. The first thing, and still probably the hardest thing for me to get used to, was the hot and humid weather. The air in Sri Lanka is so moist, it is like walking around in a sauna all day. Growing up in Minnesota, I am used to the frigidly cool arctic winters with an occasional warm/humid day popping through in the middle of summer. Sri Lanka does not have cold days….ever.

Night time on the veranda

Day 1:  I Sat around at Leijay Resort (my new home until the middle of August) and pretty much did nothing but be grateful that I was no longer traveling and had somehow managed to arrive safely in Sri Lanka.

Heat Day 1: not too bad sitting underneath a fan  in the shaded veranda.

King Coconut

Day 2: My first trip into Galle! After sleeping in much past our predetermined departure time, my fellow MSc-GH classmate Sarah woke me up and we headed off to wander around the Old Dutch fort in Galle.

Duke Office

Heat Day 2: after about a half an hour of walking around the fort and popping in to a couple of shops, I  began to feel the heat taking over me. With my heart racing and feeling a little faint, I looked at Sarah and said “I need to sit down somewhere and cool off, this heat is really getting to me”. “Really” she said, “that didn’t take long”.  We sat down in a shaded pavilion and Sarah bought me a King Coconut from a man on the street. Yum! With the aid of coconut water, shade, and a nice ocean breeze, I began to feel much better.

Day 3: Another first, this time it was my first trip to the Medical Faculty building in Karapitiya to meet Buddhima (a wonderful lady who coordinates much of the Duke-Ruhuna communications) and to see the office where I would be working from this summer.

Heat Day 3: After taking a bus to the office (an experience worthy of its own blog post), I had pretty much reached my allotted heat tolerance for the day. Too bad it was only 9:30 am and there is no air conditioning in the office/building. Luckily there is a nice fan.  I spent the first day at the office sitting under the fan.

"Oh so true Wise Buddha"

As I was sitting in the Duke office trying to maintain my composure, I eyed a small plaque atop the file cabinet with a picture of a quote from Buddha.

“The mind is everything; what you think, you become”

I like that quote, and find it inspiring.  But it turns out it doesn’t work so well against the Sri Lankan heat.

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