The past week has been an absolute whirlwind since we started work. Off the beach and into the conference room. (This post will serve as a “greatest hits” of the past week, or at least the past couple of days). After being felled by a nasty bout of the cocktail flu on Sunday, we piled into the van and headed for Colombo, the commercial capital city of Sri Lanka (I think that means they show a lot of commercials). It definitely felt a lot more like New York City than Unawatuna that’s for sure. On the way we passed parks and cricket pitches, even a few buildings. Our van pulled up to our hotel called the Cinnamon Grand, and we got out.

Oops. While our hotel was indeed part of the Cinnamon chain of hotels, we were at the wrong one. The Cinnamon Grand was an incredibly posh and upscale hotel with people in suits and other formal wear, and a piano playing in the background. The rest of my group was actually dressed somewhat respectably, as I stood there in my black tank top (with a few chest hairs poking out), backwards “I ❤ NY” hat, and athletic shorts. A waiter promptly brought us a round of free juice before we realized that we were staying at the Cinnamon Red hotel. We finished our juices and had to figure out transportation, since our van driver had already left to begin the three hour trek back to Unawatuna. Damn.

After several uncertain minutes, we were able to get a cab over to the Cinnamon Red, which was still a quite lovely hotel. It overlooked the city, and I was able to snap a few good pictures (Dochi is in a couple of them) of the city as the sun set. We then set out to find some dinner in an area of the city that was called, “The Old Dutch Hotel.” We ate at a tap house (the exact name escapes me), and walked around the area a bit. We saw the two World Trade Center towers, which were definitely a sight to behold.

I won’t get too much into the business side of things that happened the next day (Monday, for those of you keeping track at home). Suffice it to say that after a week of roasting in the sun, we were ill-prepared to sit in an office and talk shop. Well, to be fair, some of us were prepared, I really wasn’t. The past week and a half have been truly surreal. From sitting on pristine beaches to being in a conference room with people from all different walks of life, it doesn’t seem real in a way, much in the way that Costa Rica this past summer doesn’t feel real. It’s always disorienting when you go back home to your regular life. It’s like what you just experienced was more of an extended dream than anything else.

After work, we decided to head up to the roof of the hotel for a drink (the hotel was 26 floors, pictures will follow). There was an infinity pool on one side of the 26th floor, and a bar on the other. Looking out over the city at night, the lights were beautiful. I was able to snap a few shots of the sunset, which was absolutely gorgeous. There’s a bit of a haze in Colombo, which gave the sunset a really interesting appearance. I think I could look at a sunset like this every single day for the rest of my life and not get sick of it.

After a drink or two, we headed out to find some dinner. Unfortunately, Colombo is not New York, and many restaurants were already closed by 8 PM, much to our chagrin. We ended up at this restaurant that was called, “Dine-More” or “Dine-Mor,” depending on where you looked in the restaurant. As we braced ourselves for food poisoning, our waiter came over to take our orders. I inquired about a certain menu item, to which our waiter replied, “That’s too spicy.” Normally I see this as a challenge, but I was tired from the day, and just wanted something I could eat, enjoy, and not think too much about. I opted for Chicken Tikka Masala. The food ended up being absolutely amazing. I polished off my meal with a Mango Lassi (still not really sure what a lassi is), and we brought one home for Zoe (who was a little under the weather). The restaurant that had been empty when we entered was now packed. I’m glad to say that no one suffered food poisoning as a result of the meal. We ended up finding a half-decent restaurant, even though we began the night looking for a Pizza Hut.

Our last full day in Colombo, we met with some officials and members of various departments to discuss our project. We took a van, which didn’t quite seat all of us, so I sat in the back in a seat that could have comfortably seated a five year-old. My knees were practically at my ears, luckily the ride was short. On the way back, Zoe said she’d suck it up and take the seat. Unfortunately for her, the Pope was in town, and the traffic was hellacious. After a meeting and some lunch, we went out to the mall to grab some essentials for the next few days. We saw the Pope’s convoy, but we missed actually snapping a picture of the exact car that he was in. Oh well, at least I got a picture of the sign featuring his face. I would have liked to have met him, but it wasn’t to be.

We capped off our time in Colombo at the Gallery Cafe, a lovely little restaurant that featured paintings and some very large pots. The food was excellent, as we all ordered some wine, and I ordered the Black Pork Curry. This is where our trip gets interesting. Tomorrow we all get up at five and pile into a van for our three our ride to Kandy, Sri Lanka, our next destination. This is where we will begin our field work. I’m excited to begin because I really can’t sit in an office anymore. I’m not prepared for professional life, of this I am sure. We may stop by an elephant sanctuary tomorrow, I’ll make sure to send some pictures. I will try to post more regularly in the next couple of days. Peace y’all.

Photos: View from the top of our hotel at sunset, apparently I can’t play a trumpet in Sri Lanka, Zoe, Dochi, and Kaysey, more views from the hotel, the picture of the pope, and a few more views from around Colombo.

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