Today we said ‘goodbye’ to Chamara and Ramanan – we will see Ramanan again soon but it was the end of our trip together as they dropped us off at our hotel in Hikkaduwa.
These two men have been brilliant companions as they showed us round Sri Lanka. I still remember Rebecca’s expression when I asked her why we couldn’t just rent ourselves a car and drive round the isand? I mean, it can’t be that hard – they drive on the left!
As it turns out young Sri Lankans don’t need extreme sports for their adrenilin rush. Driving anywhere will do it for you. Dogs wandering across a highway and stopping in the middle; motorbikes coming towards you on the wrong side of the road (I mean on your left not just over the middle line) and, of course, the buses. You know you are in Lanka when you are overtaking a huge lorry (so there isn’t much room on a single lane highway) and then a bus overtakes you (as you overtake the lorry) – beeping it’s horn to terrify all the on-coming traffic. The general rules of the road is that you give way to anything if it gets there first and/or is much bigger than you.
The other reason why it is a good idea to have a driver is to deal with all the traffic police. It appears that one government strategy to promote employment is to put a uniform on one third of the population. They can pull you over for anything and are usually expecting a bribe. I say usually as an example of polite British understatement.
So, in the midst of all this Chamara has been a star – he has driven us everywhere and anticipated our every need.
However, Ramanan really went beyond the call of duty. Every day he has worked his hardest to show us as much of his beloved country as possible. He has always managed, somehow, to get us the best possible deals and save us lots of money – considering the strength of the pound this has been invaluable! We have sampled every fruit imaginable (rehydrating on King Coconut was a family favourite) and seen just about everything in Sri Lanka. He made sure that we experienced the real Sri Lanka and not just what most tourists see. Thank you Ramanan. And thanks to Anusha for letting him go for so long. In Christ we have such a wonderful family.