I would like to wish all my Christmas-celebrating family and friends a very merry Christmas! Here in Sri Lanka, it doesn’t feel much like Christmas, but I am spending my time with some amazing friends.
We’ve been in this gorgeous, lush country now for 5 days. What have I learned?
Currency conversion: I’ve become quite quick at converting the familiar $1 to the unfamiliar 131 rupees. That’s an awkward number if you’re not used to converting into currencies where 1000 isn’t a lot of money. It’s been a rough few days, but I’m pretty sure I qualify as a professional mental converter. Yep, that’s a thing.
Cost of Living: Everything is ridiculously cheap relative to my income. And I mean, ridiculously cheap. Most things we do are no more than a dollar or two, including taking a two hour bus ride and eating a full meal.
Driving: on the left side… and a little whacky, but it all works. Honking is almost solely used as a means for communication – to let another driver know you are going to pass. Passing happens frequently and not in the sense that we know in North America. Rather, one may frequently see three cars wide on a road and/or a car cutting back into its lane at the last second before crashing into oncoming traffic. Takes some getting used to, but I’m almost there.
Language: Tamil, mostly in the north, I believe. Sinhalese spoken, I think, in all places we’ve visited so far. English spoken enough for us to communicate our needs. All three languages on most signage.
Weather: Hot. Humid. But it’s the best time of the year here, so I’m putting up with it. It’s not much worse than a Toronto summer.
Dress:Almost every woman I saw near the ancient cities was wearing a skirt or the traditional saree. A saree consists of a short-sleeved t-shirt exposing the midriff and a long skirt that wraps up around the neck and across the front. In Kandy (and I assume other larger cities), many more women were wearing pants. Men also wear a skirt-type thing, foot length.
History: There’s obviously a lot to learn, and a month ago I knew next-to-nothing. Now, I know, well… next to next-to-nothing. There was a civil war that only officially ended in 2009. I understand that a group of Tamils began to fight against the oppression of their people. I’m not completely sure how peaceful the county is now. Change takes time. For now, the violent part of that change has ended.
While it’s a wonderful thing to share new learning, I suppose you may like to know a little about my specific experiences here in Sri Lanka. Stay tuned. I do hope to keep you updated (fingers crossed).
Roast those chestnuts, enjoy that fire, and remember you can shop on days other than Dec. 26.