I start at the end in a hotel by the beach in Bentota. By anyone’s standards, it would seem a great way to end a month of travelling semi-backpacking-style with an 8 year old in tow.
Except that I should have known that we are not the type of family to enjoy staying in a 100+ room hotel, with a pool as warm as a bath, and full of western tourists with too much dimply, wobbly flesh squished into too-tiny swimsuits. The ladies reminded me of strings of sausages where their bikinis tied off bulging flesh – yes I know that probably sounds terrible, believe me it was and I do not exaggerate.
It was a painstaking 36 hours of awkwardness where I wasn’t sure if I was meant to avert my eyes or openly stare. I took my cue from the senior hotel staff and took the former option. Unlike the seedy touts standing at the edge of the hotel on the public beach leering at half naked bodies.
I’m happy to say that this was not my total experience of Sri Lanka, a country that is at once ancient yet innocent. For a small island, it was surprising to discover the different geographical and topographical features, the co-mingling of cultures and religions, a musical cacophony of sounds with the ever-present bus horn. It was like being blindfolded and being fed something, to find that you were tasting the most delicious morsel ever. It is a beautiful country, an intriguing country, an enchanting country. We were challenged physically, mentally and (what I was most unprepared for) emotionally.
So began a month of creating some happy, lovely, wonderful, tiring, bad, breathtaking moments.