I come from a family that loves the open road.
During road trips, my two siblings and I gave my parents a headache from the time we got into our minivan. I remember packing little snacks and claiming the window seat, every time! I liked to put down the window and feel the cool breeze run across my face. In Sri Lanka, where I grew up, you could smell the ocean when you got close to the coast and smell tea when you got close to the mountains.
I live in the U.S. now, but recently my whole family went back to Sri Lanka. The kids were all grown up and the love of the open road had only gotten stronger over the years. We have been out of the country for some time and were excited to be back on the road where cattle, monkeys and even elephants made frequent appearances.
Driving in Sri Lanka is very different than driving in America. For one, people drive on the opposite side of the road (like they do in England). Unlike the straight, flat roads in Texas, Sri Lankan roads are bumpy, winding, narrow and full of surprises. Depending on which part of the island you are driving through, you can expect to see scenic mountain views with lavish waterfalls, white-sand beaches, landscaped tea estates and herds of elephants crossing the road! Ah, and… coconut trees–they are everywhere!
Everything about a Sri Lankan road trip is amazing. There are road-side vendors selling all sorts of exotic fruits, hand-made crafts, pottery, furniture, souvenirs, etc. You’ll also see cattle, water buffalo and elephants crossing the road at their leisure–so you have to watch out! And I love the paths in central Sri Lanka that are surrounded by green paddy fields and tall pine trees found at higher altitudes.
My family loves to make pit stops during road trips. It offers a chance to get out and take a few pictures or buy some fruit from a roadside vendor. When we were visiting the eastern coast of Sri Lanka on our last trip, we saw some fishermen bringing in their daily catch. So we pulled over and gave them a hand. Pulling a net full of fish is a community activity. A rhythmic dance-like movement helps the fishermen pull their catch ashore. The net is so heavy!
If you ever get a chance to visit this beautiful island, I can guarantee you one thing: you will not be bored. It is an adventure that will take you into a world of “exotic overload.”
By Cheran Ratnam
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