Arriving in Sri Lanka, the heat was the first thing I noticed. Mixing mid thirties temperatures with humidity made it feel like being in a pressure cooker. Hoping to handle it, I went to the bathroom and switched into shorts and a singlette. I soon realized this wouldn’t be enough.
When we arrived in Ella, I saw a lot of men walking around in sarongs or as we referred to them, a gentleman’s skirt. So on a particularly hot and humid afternoon I walked up to a sarong-clad man. I told him I was interested in finding one of my own. Immediately he said “No problem! Follow me. Two minutes!”
We followed him up the hill for what felt like much more than two minutes but it may just have been the humidity. We found a beautiful house perched up in the woods surrounded by trees and a wide variety of plants. He took us into a back room and his wife brought us cinnamon tea.
He then proceeded to pull out an assortment of sarongs for sale. I immediately found one I liked. It was brown and had kangaroos along the trim, reminding me of my time in Australia. We settled on a price and after the transaction he graciously invited us to dinner the following evening. We couldn’t say no.
After a full day of swimming in waterfalls and exploring Buddhist monuments, we made our way to his house for dinner. As we walked in, we were greeted by Sri Lankan remixes of old Boney M songs. We were treated to a table full of assorted foods, of which many I had no idea of their origins. It all looked delicious but the portions looked a bit small. It was only after I put only a little on my plate did I realize that it would be only us who were eating. The family stood around and watched with anticipation to see our reactions to the various goodies. I am sure they were not disappointed. A rather spicy lemon sat on the edge of my plate which I eyed with uncertainty. After a debate in my head, I decided to give it a go and was rewarded with a literal explosion of flavour. It was so intense, all I could think of was the flavour, everything else was gone. Eventually, I swallowed it down and came back to my senses.
After enjoying many rounds of the delicious food, I’d had my fill and was offered another cup of cinnamon tea. We then proceeded to have a bit of a photo frenzy with the family and hung out. When all was said and done, we left the family with fond memories and an understanding of what Sri Lankan hospitality means.