I'm finally relaxing! My iphone doesn't work here so I can't check my office email conveniently. Otherwise, I'd be checking my email every few hours and that's not good. There are 3G networks so I'm not sure why it isn't working...oh well.
We flew from PDX to Chicago to London on United. The flight to London was rather stressful. The kids were tired and cranky and they cried...alot! Then we had a 5 hour layover in London which gave the kids a chance to run around (or crawl around) and relieve their stress. The flight from London to Sri Lanka was about 10 hours but it was great! The service was excellent, the food just as good, and they really went out of their way to keep the kids happy.
Arrived in Colombo at 5:30 AM on the 2nd. We picked up our luggage, two car seats, stroller, and baby carrier and got out of the airport in about 45 minutes. My wife's aunt and uncle were there to pick us up, so we loaded the van and headed to their house in a suburb of Colombo.
Funny story: I hired a porter because we had a lot of bags and two kids. We had him pick up all of the bags and the baby carriers and left the airport. When we were loading the van, I realized that we had forgot to pick up the 2 car seats. So the porter took me back inside thru security explaining to all the security people about the forgotten luggage. Now here's the thing, most people in SL don't know what car seats are! So as I was going back out thru security, they asked my what they were. I told them they were car seats. This guy thought I was importing actual seats for a car! I had to explain to him what it was for and he let me thru with no problem. So when my relatives saw the car seats they asked us why we went to so much trouble because they aren't required here. They didn't realize that it was for safety reasons that we brought them, not to avoid any fines! You can buy them here, and some people even use them. I haven't seen for my self anyone using them. What people do is sit in the back seat with the kids in their laps. People don't really wear seatbelts either.
The first thing I noticed as we stepped out of the airport was that it wasn't that hot. It was about 72F (granted it was 6:30AM), but I expected more humidity. The second thing I noticed was the definite increase in security. I asked uncle about this and he explained that a new Army special forces unit was developed to maintain the security in the capital. Due to the stepped-up government attacks up in the North part of the country, the separatists have been trying to increase bomb attacks in the capital. So far, the Army has been able to catch alot of these planned attacks. Hopefully, there won't be any suicide attacks anywhere we go!
We took the first day to relax around the house and get some energy back. I was getting really sleepy around 3pm (which is about 2AM the previous day in PDX). But I forced myself to stay awake to minimize the jet lag. The plan was that I would be really tired at night and would sleep soundly through the night and wake up in the morning. I didn't want to be fully awake at 3AM. Well, the plan worked...sort of. We had let the kids sleep as much as they wanted, so of course they both woke up at 2AM. My plan would have worked, if not for the kids!!
So today we unpacked and organized all of the gifts. A friend and his wife dropped by last night to drop off a new mobile phone for me to use while I'm here. So this morning, I made some calls to friends and family here to tell them that we have arrived. Then I finally found some time to update my blog.
and pose for pictures in front of the house
This is going to be our main place of stay. We'll be going to stay with my uncle for some days as well.
Then we went to the store to buy some clothes and supplies for the kids as well as some clothes for ourselves. I got some nice shirts for about $5 each!
This area of town (called Nugegoda) is known for its traffic. There is some major road construction going on which causes a lot of people to drive thru this way:
Notice the cars, buses, motorcycles, bikes and pedestrians all sharing the road. I'll be passing thru this way on my way down to Kalutara tomorrow. Kalutara is where I grew up while I was in SL and is where my uncle lives.
Since we have been here, there has been two suicide bombs in Colombo. The government also issued a statement that they have captured the main rebel HQ's yesterday. To celebrate, people were firing firecrackers in the streets. I was thinking to myself, someone could set off a bomb in this madness relatively easily. Sure enough, someone did exactly that. Luckily there have only been 2 deaths. It seems that some rebels have infiltrated the city with explosives. But there is no communication with the leadership up north and they are setting off the bombs in unimportant places. They say that the government could capture all of the rebel territory in about a month. However it goes, I hope this was finishes up soon.
People might wonder why we decided to travel to SL during this mess. The thing is, life goes on normally here, even with the bombs going off. That said, it's certainly not normal for the residents up north. But for the people here, they have to continue living; they can't just move to the US! People are tired of the war, but they seem upbeat and they are always so friendly. They seem to love kids. No matter what side you take, it would seem to me that to take the side of peace is the way to go. It just doesn't make sense to me why this conflict couldn't have been resolved years before.
This is a beautiful country and we have several trips planned....like I said, I don't like staying at home for too long. We'll be climbing the 4th highest mountain here Sri Pada mountain or Adam's Peak. It has an elevation of around 8200 feet. There are many people making pilgrimages up to the top. There is a Buddhist temple there. Sri Pada translates to holy footstep (close enough) because legend has it that the Buddha stepped on the top of the mountain on a trip from India. It's also worshipped by Christians (thus Adam's Peak), Hindus, and Muslims. Also is planned a trip to the South coast which has lots of beaches and snorkelling/diving. This area was seriously affected by the Dec 26, 2004 tsunami. The tsunami happened a few weeks before our wedding. We planned the wedding in SL for Jan 2005 and almost cancelled it. Then there is a rainforest and arboretum I want to see.
Tomorrow is 30 or so miles down the west coast from colombo to Kalutara. Next week is reserved for visiting relatives.
Till next time.....