for enRoute x Air Canada
"Put the fork down and pick up the rice. Don't be afraid to get messy." Sam, our local guide, was encouraging us to drop our utensils and eat lunch with our hands. As my fingers slipped into the yellow curry my instinctual reaction was a slight cringe. Though as the meal progressed, I pulled chicken from bone and dipped bread in dal, feeling closer to my food than I usually do. When lunch was over we passed around a bowl of water to wash our hands. No napkins, no waste. My experience in Sri Lanka was a series of breakdowns: the wall between myself and my meals, the space between cities and the jungle, and the order of the highway. Roads were filled with a chaos of people, cars, tuk-tuks, community dogs, and a thousand other moving parts. Sam held our hands and walked us across one-by-one whenever we had to cross.
He extolled wisdom of local birds, fifty uses for the coconut, and the deeply complicated politics of his home. Sri Lanka has the oldest continual known history of anywhere in the world and there is a haze that often settles over the palm trees in the orange evening. Imagining events that are too far gone for my present brain to grasp, while looking out at the mist, the deep greens have a mythical quality. The heat slows you down and the ever present elephants provoke an air of majesty. It is a bountiful island of spice gardens and kind people. I went to Sri Lanka to showcase an incredible place that has recovered from a long civil war, and is excited to welcome visitors to share in their culture.