Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2009 11 10. Tuesday.

Got up around 6am and walked over to the Trivandrum airport and had an uneventful 50 minute flight to Columbo. The Colombo airport is beautiful and fully modern. Quite a contrast to the international airports I've seen in India which are mostly pretty grubby and rundown. The Colombo airport had toilet paper! Wow. You *never* see toilet paper anywhere in India unless you buy it yourself or stay at an ultra-fancy hotel.

I got the usual casual religious questions from the Sri Lankan immigration official. He was quite interested in my story of being raised Catholic, then being a practicing Buddhist for about 10 years (including living in a Vietnamese Zen temple for 3 years) and then meeting Amma. I had to cut it short when the guy behind me started to get impatient. There are lots of westerners who come to Sri Lanka to meditate at one of the many, many Buddhist temples and meditation centers here. There was a really beautiful statue of the Buddha at the airport. I think Sri Lanka is about 70% Buddhist.

Then I went over to the hotel information counters for some hard bargaining. I first said I wanted to take a bus to Negambo. A few days ago another westerner at the ashram told me that Negambo beach is about 30 minutes from the Colombo airport and has some cheap guest houses. The guy said there was no bus to Negambo but I knew there were cause the westerner told me so. I just said "Fine." and started walking away. Then he said he'd give me a nearby guest house room for 1,500 Sri Lankan rupees (about $15) and throw in a free ride there. Staying close to the airport was definitely an advantage cause my flight leaves at 7:30am the next morning. I said "Sold!" Then we hopped into a car and zipped over to the "Crystal Villa" guest house about a 5 minute drive away. On the way he kept telling me the usual price is 2,500 rupees. I think he was trying to make me feel guilty for getting a good bargain. I just ignored him. Sorry, buddy. It ain't working. Go play that guilt trip rap on someone else. The Crystal Villa was pretty nice. The road leading up to it was patrolled with a soldier in full uniform toting a small and very lethal looking machine gun. Right down the road from the Crystal Villa was another much fancier hotel; even had a swimming pool. That was probably the reason for the guard.

My room was spacious and not too many mosquitoes. The shared bathroom, however, was loaded with mosquitoes. Yuch. Seriously annoying later on when I had to take a poop and spend the whole time frantically swatting the little bastards, an evil grin spreading across my face every time I flattened one into a little black and red splotch. Actually, whenever I kill a mosquito, I try to say 3 Om Amritay Swaryay Namaha's to help send it off to a good rebirth. . . somewhere far away. Somewhere I read its good karma to kill a mosquito because that will help it move more quickly to a higher rebirth. I wonder if that logic also applies to Republicans...? ( smile! just teasing, just teasing. Settle down. Now all my Republican friends will leave mean comments on my blog. Oh well, its not easy being a left-wing socialist pinko tree-hugging neo-hippie progressive liberal flower child like me.)

There was a little hole-in-the-wall food stall down the road where I had my lunch. They had a little buffet and I thought the proprietor said everything was vegetarian. Turns out some of the stews had fish. Yuch. I don't like the taste of fish stews. Fresh cooked fresh is wonderful, but fish stews to me have a yucky sour taste, and I had to keep spitting out little bones. I went there again for dinner and was careful to get only the dishes with no fishes, as per my wishes. They had some bread on the buffet line that was really good! Wonderfully chewy with great flavor and great texture. I was very pleasantly surprised. Some of the best bread I've had in a long time. Didn't know Sri Lankans were excellent bakers. Maybe some wayward Italians got shipwrecked here long ago and started some bakeries. The natives were probably overjoyed to eat something besides rice.

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