Sri Lanka; trains & tea

A taste of Sri Lanka

There was NO WAY I can get into the packed train which finally arrived to Peradeniya station. I was shocked and a security guard helped me to break the “Law of physics”. I was on my way to Nuwara Eliya the perfect place with tea plantations, mountains, cold and fog.

I have been living 10 years by the beach so I mostly look for cool weather whenever I travel.

The train trip supposed to be about 3.5 hours but it became 5. I was on the 2nd class, sitting on the floor but with a VIP view. My hair was flying around like a medusa and my eyes were happy to see such a beautiful scenario between mountains, tea plantation, traditional houses and kids saying goodbye with their tiny hands. Next to me a couple from England traveling with no water and no sanitizer, so I shared mine as they still had another 3 hrs to go.

Once I got out of the train, the new adventure started, to get transportation to my hotel…the little detail was that I booked one of the most expensive hotels and it was 1hr away, and of course I didn´t want to get ripped. I sorted it out and when I arrived I was so pampered by the staff as one person opened the door, 1 carried my luggage ( 1 medium backpack LOL), one person came and served me some clove with sugar and another one served me tea. OHH tea yes! because this hotel used to be a Tea Factory and that´s why I chose it, besides the landscape.

I love to have all kind of experiences, so I traveled on the 2nd class sitting on the floor of the train, I invited my tuk-tuk driver in Colombo for some beers sitting on the rocks contemplating the sunset and I also hire private drivers or pay for a nice hotel. Why not?

Experiences are everything to me, and I love nature. When I felt the cold wind on my face and my eyes perceive how the fog was wrapping my hotel until it disappeared I knew I was on the right place. I am not into very touristic activities but as it was raining all day I decide to join to Tea plucking activity. They dressed us as locals, gave us baskets that were hanging from our head and the lady explained us how to cut the tea leaves and then explained us all the procedure and how the machines work.

After my 45 minutes cold activity I was having some tea on the sofas of the hotel when I noticed something moving …

I was shocked to realize that it was an old lady covered with a green plastic, barefoot and carrying 2 full baskets that she came to deliver to the hotel. I asked if I could take a picture and somehow I wanted to give her money that I didn’t have at that time. It was a moment of excitement and disappointment; why she was barefoot and wet, what if she gets sick, why this expensive hotel don´t provide her with equipment. I also felt stupid for doing this activity to be entertained by something that represents the poor lifestyle of so many people until today. They earn 4 usd per day if they get at least 20kg of leaves…otherwise they get paid less.

I felt guilty and I kept this in my mind, I wrote to my parents and some friends…life is so unfair. Of course I thought about the same conditions of people working in agriculture in Bali where I live or in Mexico.  Sometimes I feel that the world hasn´t improve much.

These memories always reminds me how lucky I am to travel, to learn, how I should stay humble and grateful, how can I help people and to keep my feet on the ground.

There is no other country like Mexico!

FB_IMG_1588435083148Como México no hay dos!

I grew up listening this, and Mexicans really buy it. However for me it was a different story as my father always said: and there is no other like France, Greece, Russia, etc.(with a sarcastic humor).

WHAT are you doing with Mexican toys displayed at your Japanese cultural station? I asked my Japanese coworkers. They looked at me and reply: What are you talking about, these toys are Japanese!! I googled Mexican toys and show them the pictures (spinning top, cup & ball, etc.), they were shocked. And we debated of who was the creator haha.

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Mexicans believe that many things exist only in Mexico like Flor de Xempazuchitl that is a “traditional” flower used for our DAY OF DEAD. And how amazed I was when I arrived in Bali, Indonesia and this flower was everywhere (literally since the toilet at the airport before crossing immigration LOL). In Bali it is called gumitir flower and it is use for the “offerings” to the spirits & gods , which is very interesting for the “similarity” of use we give to it.

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On my last dinner before leaving Bali, after spending 2 years there. My team took me to eat “tamales” but they call them “buras” (sort of salty or sweety cake)once again my jaw dropped. And yes if you look for it, it’s wrapped in banana leaf, it look exactly the same like in Mexico and it says it is originally from Indonesia if you google buras. By the way they also eat this in India and Philippines, etc.

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At this point my Mexican world was falling apart, it felts like someone was shaving my mustache and stealing my horse, just kidding. I was fascinated to find the “same flowers, food, toys” in other countries on the other side of the world, and not only that, but it was also considered part of their culture. WOW!

What about “aguas mexicanas” (Mexican flavored water) all my life I thought that to drink a delicious “Agua de Jamaica” (Rosella ice tea) was only possible in Mexico and probably USA because of the migration to that country. However,in 2016, after living 2 years in Thailand on my last day with my Thai team, we went to eat in a local restaurant some delicious Thai food and guess what…YES, Agua de Jamaica, with a name in Thai that I cannot remember. Now when  I actually google about it, the plant is natural from Africa, how AMAZING is that!

And vocabulary is another amazing thing, I just find so many similarities or even same words in languages as Japanese, Bahasa, Filipino, Sinhala, etc. and of course French, Italian, Portuguese as they have the same roots.

I love to teach people around the globe how similar we are and also how unique we are. My idea is to demonstrate how many things that we believe to be the owners of, or the “original” ones, in fact might exist somewhere else with slight variations or being exactly the same, and that my friends is WONDERFUL!

Knowing some History will of course help you to make the connection so when you discover that the word BREAD in Spanish it’s pronounced PAN and in Japanese as well, and in Portuguese, French, Sinhala and so on, and you do some research, you will find out that Portugal had their first affiliation with Japan in 1543 and Spain in 1549, for example and of course there will be words, traditions and food that are imposed or adapted.

Let’s get out of our shell thinking we have the best food, the most beautiful language or the original whatever. At the end “We are the world”, we are colors, food, languages,traditions that are linked to each other more than we realize.

What are your thoughts?

A Mexican pirate & the floating mountains

10325575_10152834613080888_483446532607690834_nThis was like a scene from a pirate movie!, our wood boat approaching these floating mountains, raising it´s red sails through the fog, feeling the salty breeze on our faces and feeling small like ants in the middle of the ocean in Thailand, it was just stunning.

I was seriously expecting in any moment Jack Sparrow appearing from anywhere with his funny boots. The surface of the ocean was changing color and looked like sparkling water, soon the boat stopped and some people in kayaks appeared from nowhere inviting us to go in so we could continue our adventure.

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Let´s go!! my Korean friend and I jumped in and followed the instructions given. There is a particular way to get into a “secret bay”. The corrosion by the ocean created some spaces between the water and the rock and while in the kayak we needed to lay ours bodies to the right and left side or completely down to avoid being hit when passing under the floating mountains. Then after few seconds of darkness BOOM we were there, on the other side of the mountain in a secret bay of incredible beauty, with a blue sky and jade water and… with another  50 people in different kayaks, so… haha not very secret right?

 

Phuket has so many incredible spots but mostly crowded, we need to assimilate that while we get mad at the touristic spots being packed, we are part of the crowd so let’s enjoy our humanity.

We headed to James Bond island, called that way because of the movie filmed there, and guess what, it was also packed, mostly with Chinese tourist as Thailand is a popular destination for them. However this didn’t diminished the beauty of the place and the particularity of this big rock standing in the middle of the water as if god put it there strategically likes a tower on a chess mat.

Nature create beautiful things all around the planet, some discovered tons of years ago, some still awaiting or perhaps hiding, trying to remain untouched and magical.

I left this amazing place feeling like a pirate, adventuring myself in a land thousands of miles away from home, with strange languages that I cannot understand, trying exotic dishes and fulfilling my soul with adventure but always wanting to conquer more!

 

 

A killer, a dinosaur and a magic land

20181029_185437I knew he could kill me in a blink of an eye! But, I stayed there staring at him from behind a tree, I could see him moving slowly and I could also hear the noise coming out of his nose or mouth, I wasn’t sure…then I realized there were another 2 even closer to me. So dangerous!

The guide explained to us that the Komodo dragon can weigh up to 150 pounds and eat up to 80% of their own body weight in one sitting. Well, I guess this didn’t make me feel very safe, especially as our protection walking around the reserve was only one long stick with a Y shape.

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Some people believe they are “dragons” and some that they descend from dinosaurs but in fact they are biiiiig lizards “varanus komodoensis”. There was a theory saying that these islands had some effects in the bodies of animals and humans as this lizard is extremely big and they also found in Flores what they called the “hobbit cave” where bones, smaller than usual, from primitive humans were waiting to be revealed.

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Indonesia is a very interesting country with more than 17 000 Islands, and I booked a trip for 2 days and 1 night in a wooden boat that brought me to see the dragons in Rinca and Komodo Island. I need to say that it’s quite pricey, about 1 million rupees for the boat plus another 500k to enter the islands and snorkel that national park with no luxe except … Bingo! You have the luxury of feeling the wind on your face and see the tide and the funny shapes created by the current, you sleep under the stars floating in the middle of the ocean and the moon caress your skin, and yes next morning you see the sunrise from the boat while you navigate to reach Padar Island.

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What a dream, this country has it all! I also swam with mantas and I saw their dance under the water like giving us a private show, then we headed to the pink beach, which is not that pink but with some filters hit tons of likes on Instagram.

 

One of the good presents of this trip was to meet Lusia (yes, with S), a bubblish lady from Surabaya. She was doing her 1st solo trip at 34years old and as we had the same age and both studied the same plus she was very funny, we immediately clicked. She helped me to relax after being upset for the lack of punctuality of the company we were using for the trip. And she was trying to not be obvious taking me videos and photos in the boat as many Indonesians do to foreigners to post them on social media and get likes from other Indonesians…weird thing yes, but I got used to it after 2 years of living here. So when I saw her taking me a video, I posed for it and she laughed and said: how do you know? I laugh as well and replied: well, the camera is right in front of me!. She ended up telling me the story of her life with a couple of tears that made me feel like she was not that happy about her job and having some pressure to fit into the Indonesian society but she has quite a free soul which I loved.

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I’ll keep as well in my memory the moment when I was walking behind the komodo dragon (2m away) to pose for a picture – encouraged by the ranger – and the animal didn’t stop watching me for a second, also I will not forget how after “posing” for all my pictures he just slept and the next tourist that arrived after me couldn’t take any, perhaps he liked me (as a potential snack). Their skin looks like a snake one and the movement of their tongue as well, I cannot define the noise they do and I definitely don’t want to see them running towards me ever! (20km per hour)

What an adventure, Thank you life, Thank you Indonesia!