Really, there are so many holidays here. Today was a Muslim holiday, the Hadj festival, and Friday is a Poya (full moon) Day which is a Buddhist holiday. The Sri Lankans I’ve talked to say there are so many holidays because the country has several religious communities, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian. However, a recent business article cited the number of holidays as a problem for growth in the economy. Christmas here seems to be a big deal, but only the commercial aspects, such as the songs and the decorations. At the Lake Bungalow, the guesthouse where I was staying when I first arrived, there was a Montessori school downstairs, and every morning I would wake up to the sound of children singing Christmas songs, and ABBA. Mamma Mia just came out here and is very popular. It was strange to hear songs about sleigh rides and snow in a tropical climate.
So today I took my holiday and worked to clean up and arrange my new home a little more. On Friday I moved in to my new 2 bedroom apartment in Ampitiya, just outside of Kandy up a windy road. The view from up here is amazing, and a big part of what I like about my new place.
It is also quiet and peaceful up here, and not too far from town. However, housekeeping in Sri Lanka is much more time consuming than in the US. For one thing, there are many more insects here. The past few mornings I have had to sweep hundreds of dead flies off the floor. A Sri Lankan friend told me that these flies come for a few weeks when it is rainy, and that they arrived after the 2004 tsunami, so people call them tsunami flies. Luckily tsunami flies are only around for a few weeks at a time, so after Christmas I should be free of this problem.
The other challenge in housekeeping is water purification. In order to have drinking water I have to boil it and then pour it into my very very slow water purifier that takes about a day to filter anything.
Similar to the Lake Bungalow guesthouse, there are monkeys around. My first night here I woke up to a loud crash on the roof from a monkey. There seems to be a troop that runs around my neighborhood, and they are very loud.
Even with monkeys, Ampitiya is still quieter than downtown Kandy, where there are loud buses and hundreds of people. Even on a holiday the traffic is intimidating. There are stop-lights, but they aren’t turned on, probably because no one paid attention to them.