I caved. I swore I never would, that I didn’t need it, that it was a luxury I’d be perfectly content living without while in Sri Lanka… but I caved. I just turned on the air conditioner in my room and here I am, sitting on my bed wearing pants, tucked under a blanket, the soft hum of the A.C. unit replacing the ever-constant whirring of my overhead fan.
And it feels so good.
My excuse is that I’ve been in bed all day getting over a case of what I’m pretty sure is food poisoning from the vegetable kottu I had at a fancy fundraiser in Colombo last night. I know, right? It wasn’t even from a local eatery on the street, but from a white-tablecloth, round table, sit-down dinner. Sri Lanka’s cuisine will never stop surprising me (though I do hope it starts giving my stomach a break and lets me resume eating what is one of my favorite Sri Lankan dishes without feeling like I’ve been terribly betrayed).
But on to more pleasant subjects! I spent last weekend in Kandy, the second largest city in Sri Lanka and the cultural capital of the country. I’ve been there a few times before, and every time, I’m struck by how different Kandy feels compared to Colombo. Less humid, more green, more relaxed in ways.. and home to more fresh bakeries!
So, my fellow Fulbrighters and I enjoyed a long weekend in the hill country, where we visited a spice garden (where the men got massages – long story), saw a cultural dance show, ate a fair amount of (perfectly healthy) kottu, hoppers, and “short eats,” and took a day trip to hike Sigiriya and visit the temple caves in Dambulla. I hiked Sigiriya with Jesse and Mom last fall, so I chose to visit the caves, where I saw the most Buddha statues I have ever seen in one place!
The highlight of our weekend in Kandy was visiting the famous Temple of the Tooth on Poya day. (Poya is the name of the Buddhist public holiday in Sri Lanka which occurs every full moon day.) Once a month, most Sri Lankan Buddhists get dressed in all white and visit the country’s many temples. The most famous temple is the Temple of the Tooth, in Kandy, and it gets pretty packed on Poya days. Luckily, we were all on staying at a guesthouse right next to the temple, and we were there by 6 a.m. to visit, pay our respects, and watch as so many Sri Lankans came to worship and celebrate.
I’m really enjoying getting to know my fellow Fulbrighters. We’re such a diverse group, but we have the important things in common – love of travel, love of intellectual conversations, love of research and teaching and just education in general! It’s really nice taking Sinhala lessons, cooking, living, and going out with these folks – we’re all here for different reasons, but as my friend Julie said on the phone today, we’re all under this “Fulbright umbrella” and are doing a pretty good job being part of a support system for each other. (And, as a side note, Fulbrighters are so collaborative! In exchange for basic finance lessons on the stock market, credit ratings, and investments (yuck), one of my Fulbright roommates wants me to teach him how to do a perfect handstand. Pretty good trade, don’t you think?)
This was a short post, but mostly just because I’m taking it easy today and working on getting better! More soon, but I’ll leave you with a photo of one of the many, many monkeys to be seen on the island :)