Polishing off a cup of lukewarm milk tea on our first morning in Colombo, Sri Lanka. This city is gritty and noisy and friendly and completely disorienting. We tried to wander our way to a few sights yesterday afternoon but it kept ending up with us lost at the corner of some 12-way intersection or other, soliciting directions from earnest but very confused locals who pointed us in ever-widening circles until we gave up and hopped a rickshaw back to our part of town – Bambalapitiya. I still haven’t sorted out how it’s pronounced.
We’re staying at Hotel Sunshine. It’s got a shabby colonial vibe with that drab, spare Communist kind of aesthetic peeking out around the edges, just a bit. We keep ordering sodas and coffees and waters on the room service tab, mainly because it’s fun to get things served to you after a few weeks of budget-budget living, and it’s all like 50 cents, so who cares anyways? Although you never know just what you’ll end up with. A cold Diet Pepsi is liable to show up disguised as a warmish, sweating bottle of orangey Mirinda. Black coffee comes to you the color of butter caramel and tempered with enough spoonfuls of granulated sugar to set your teeth on edge. The poor front desk guy seems to be having some trouble deciphering our accents.
Then again, everyone does. I’m beginning to suspect that the American accent is a rarity in these parts. We’ll see how many others we encounter when we pick up the backpacker trail again, I guess. As it stands, we haven’t met any Americans in India so far, although we’ve heard American-sounding accents about 8 times. The best was this greasy, gray-gilled 50-something guy in Verkala, Kerala. He was wearing an oversized black T-shirt with “INDIA” written on it in huge letters, slurping a bottle beer, and wandering down the cobbled nighttime street mumbling in loud, North American tones about a stray dog who had saved the lives of everyone in a restaurant and that was the thanks it got? Yeah, don’t bother rereading that last sentence. it didn’t make any sense to us, either.
We’re off to check out whatever else this not-so-pretty city has to offer, and to purchase train tickets out of town on the quick. Tomorrow, we leave for the fabled golden shores of southern Sri Lanka. First stop: Unawatuna.
We’ve got a week here, and then it’s back to Southern India for a spell. I’ve been taking mad photos, but am having troubles with fritzy WiFi most everywhere. I have some awesome photos, so it’s kind of a shame. I’ll keep trying.