I can’t believe two months have already gone by since I left for the trip of a lifetime. For a number of reasons, the memories I made in Sri Lanka will stay with me for the rest of my life, floating like a dream in the most far-flung corners of my mind. Sometimes it feels like it was just that; fragments of a distant daydream of far-away places and strangely familiar faces. But I can still see the tall spindly palm trees leaning in the breeze, smell the spices from the local roti shop, hear the waves crash as I wake up underneath the mosquito net in my bunk-bed, feel the warmth of smiles…
Sri Lanka was my first time travelling alone. But looking back, I can’t recall a single moment when I felt alone. The people I met became a family within a matter of hours, and I’ll cherish my time with them forever. Surfing in the rain on a stormy morning in Weligama, cramming four of us into the back of a tuktuk on the way to a tea plantation, eating rice and curry with my hands in a local family’s home, splashing around in the sea as the sun set behind pink clouds, dancing to drums on the beach under a blanket of stars… The memories are endless and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some, and they’ll come back to me one day years from now and I’ll stop and smile and remember how happy and alive and free I felt at that moment in time.
For a long time I’d been feeling restless, with ‘the inconsolable longing in the heart for we know not what’, which C.S Lewis describes as sehnsucht. A nostalgia for a far-off country, not quite an earthly land which we can identify precisely, but a place which would feel like home nonetheless. A longing for new experiences, for a change which would only come about if I stepped outside of my comfort zone and into a new world of strangers and unknown feelings. For an even longer time I did nothing about it, other than trawl across the internet in a feeble attempt to quell this mind-consuming wanderlust. Everything about the coming year was uncertain for me; a blank void of possibilities which would only happen if I did something about it.
And so I did.