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16 Nov

Sri Lanka Experiences

We asked our in residence writer Lucy Nelson to guest post about what you might expect after arrival in Sri Lanka. We asked her to describe those first few Sri Lanka experiences. This is what Lucy had to say about her first week in Sri Lanka.

First the colours.

You can taste the air in this place.

In the dark of five in the morning there is a frog singing two notes at once outside your window, the hum and wobble of a ceiling fan and a haunting call to prayer stirring at a nearby mosque.

At eight, you walk and walk and have the village introduce itself. Here is the early light of a first impression, filling with colour. Red and green tuk-tuks thread clumsily through a patchwork of families of four on scooters (the littlest one always at the front, head bobbling with each pot hole).


Schoolgirls in white dresses walk to the bus stop.Occasionally a dried red splotch on the dust-brown gravel underfoot, the remnants of chewed up betel leaf.

Impossibly bright orange fish are lined up, fat and glossy, on a table covered with paper and ice.

Fish Market

Slow and steady, the thin wheels of an old man’s bicycle as he finds his line among the cars, the cows, the busses. Slow and steady, the sure-footed shuffle of a woman in a bright blue sari as she makes her way from one side of the road to the other. There are dots of gold in her ear lobes, a long black pendulous plait.

As the old man on the bicycle passes, a red coco-cola crate can be seen on the back, packed with hands of small bananas, green at their fingertips.

The boy working the fruit stall holds a dull orange king coconut in one hand, a small machete in the other and, when he laughs, he shows his pale pink tongue.


The rain starts. The leaves nod with the weight. Those without umbrellas stand under tarps suspended by the bamboo frames of fruit carts until it passes and point smilingly up at the sky. They say the word for rain as you pass: vahinava, vahinava.

These are my first Sri Lanka experiences.

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