Right now as I look outside my window, I only see brown and white, and am really missing the beautiful green of spring and summer.
The Green Story
This is a really short story that took place right after we left the Akkara Ataseeya village near Polannaruwa. As I wrote before, leaving the village was really difficult. We had become very close and connected to our new families there and then we had to leave them. I remember thinking that as hard as it was for us to drive away, leaving is always easier than being left. We were on to a new adventure, a new city, new sights to see. Our families were going back to their homes and work, where just the day before we had been crowding the spaces and making all sorts of noise. Not to put our group on a pedestal, but I know that I always feel a bit of emptiness once a good friend or some family members leave after staying the weekend at my house. One reason why I think that our Sri Lankan families relate to that is because my amma and father kept telling me not to forget them, and to tell my American family about them. I told everyone about them.
Before we got to our next destination, we went on a three-hour tour of the ancient city of Polannaruwa. We walked around and looked at the statues, and the monkeys, and the ruins. It was one of the hottest days we had experienced there, we were suffering from an unexpected but severe case of heartbreak, and were just tired. Imagine yourself on a museum tour that you did not sign up for directly. Three hours is a long time, especially under those conditions, so I will easily admit that I did not retain much of the information we were given concerning the different ruins and history of the area. I will also freely admit that this was where I reached a breaking point, and saw that same point be reached by a lot of my friends, as we were not happy to be there. The highlight of our tour was no doubt a really cool turtle that probably was not as cool as we made it out to be. The proportion of our attention that went into that turtle as opposed to the historic ancient ruins that surrounded us was probably a bit unbalanced.
Finally, we left. We drove the short distance to our hotel, which was another in a long list of firsts that our group experienced. The place we were staying had opened up THAT day, making us the first group to stay there, and the only group, as we had the entire place to ourselves. Because the hotel was literally just getting started, we had to wait a bit for our rooms, but when we did, and we walked into the air conditioned, ceiling-fanned room with large comfy beds and warm-water showers, some of just laid down and did not get up for quite a while, just taking in the transition we had just experienced.
After getting rested up a bit, we explored. Our hotel was right on the edge of a rice paddy field, which could have resulted in a swarm of mosquitoes constantly attacking us, except that it was exceptionally windy, so windy in fact, that at lunch, some our plates actually flew off the table! Our clothes that we had so carefully washed (read: sarcasm. I threw my clothes on the shower floor and let the runoff water rinse them then I kind of swirled them around to add a bit off effort to the process) dried in about 5 minutes after hanging them on the laundry racks outside.
There was a short wall outside of our rooms, and after climbing over it, we were on the roof of the office downstairs. From there all we saw were bright green trees with yellow flowers, and rice paddies, blowing (not so gently) in the wind. Despite the hurricane characteristics, it was surprisingly calming.
We were told that dinner would be at 7:00pm, and to get to the dining area in time. Again, it was the first day the hotel was open, and I think that the kitchen staff was not aware of how long it would take to cook food for our large group. Realizing that the food wasn’t ready, but we certainly were, one of the workers brought out a flute, sat down in front of us, and began playing for us, seemingly with the hopes to distract us of the fact that our food did not get there until an hour later. We weren’t demanding or cranky or rude, but amused. He was a fantastic flute player, and showed us all up when the most we could do was make a high-pitched squeal.
Dinner finally arrived, we ate and laughed and reflected, and all was good.