Sri Lanka is a tear-drop-shaped island at the tip of India. Not far from the equator. The noon sun is incredibly powerful, as I discovered after failing to completely cover my winter-white skin with sunblock. There’s green everywhere–every inch that isn’t covered by pavement has tropical foliage bursting out of it.
All those leaves soaking in the sunshine. Tall, elegant palms. Banana trees with leaves as long as a basketball player. Papaya trees that look exactly like the truffula trees in The Lorax, with football size papayas growing at their tops. Flowers everywhere, too–big, gorgeous blobs of color with tropical names like frangipani, bougainvilla, hibiscus. Wildflowers along the roads, tiny specks of yellow and pink growing out of the garbage that litters the streets.
It’s not all tropical beauty. There are mange-covered dogs in the streets, and polluted air and traffic jams of epic proportions. We’ve journeyed from the beaches to the center of the island, looking for Buddhist temples and elephants. Yesterday we spent about eight hours in a bus jammed with people standing in the aisle, bouncing up and down and stopping every ten minutes to take on yet another passenger. Today we wandered through an incredibly mystical and beautiful temple in a cave, with giant reclining Buddhas carved out of the rock.
Still looking for elephants!