Finally, after 36 hours of traveling I arrived in Colombo, on Wednesday at 2 o’clock. The flight on Sri Lankan air was delightful, and included two delicious meals, and flight attendants wearing saris printed with a peacock feather pattern.
Right after the plane landed a British girl one aisle over said that Obama had won the election. This was repeated by the customs officer as he checked my passport, “Obama win.” Everyone here is very excited about it, and Obama’s election has been a main topic of conversation among all the people I’ve met so far.
After clearing customs I made my way to my guest house with the help of Robert, the driver hired by the Fulbright office. He was very nice, and excellent at negotiating Colombo’s insane traffic. The guest house is on Buller’s Lane in Colombo 7, a neighborhood also known as Cinnamon Gardens. Sadly, it doesn’t smell like cinnamon, but there are trees and birds, and it is very pretty, even with all the cars and the twisty, sidewalk-less streets. The house belongs to Ruki Wickramasinghe, a nice older lady, and she is helped out by Irene, her tiny cook/housekeeper. Last night Irene made me stringhoppers, which is not like funnel-cake as I’d hoped, but more like noodle pancakes.
The stringhoppers were made with red rice flour and were delicious. The rest of the dinner included coconut sambol, fish curry, and dal.
Yesterday I also visited the other Fulbrighters, Lea, Leah, and John,who I had initially met at the DC orientation. They are living in a house together a little ways away from my guest house, and last night we had a conversation about nicknames for the Lea(h)s, but we couldn’t come up with anything. They are very friendly and helpful, and I’m glad to know some people in the country.
Today I adventured on foot into Colombo, despite Ruki’s fear that I would melt on the way there. The heat here is stifling, but not quite as bad as I’d feared. On Wednesday I’ll be heading to Kandy to find an apartment and set up my living situation there. The weather in Kandy is said to be cooler and less humid, and the city is much smaller than Colombo. Also, there is an elephant orphanage there with tiny baby elephants and a temple that holds the Buddha’s tooth. Should be wonderful.