Getting to know SRI LANKA 
                    

An island by many names. Serendib, Seylan, Ceylon
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LOCKDOWN in SRI LANKA ?  

 

Caught out during Covid, I'm now a happy captive

 

I presently live on the lagoon in Negombo, on the south west coast of Sri Lanka, having been caught out here since Covid began.

 

Over the last 14 months I've moved around to live in four very diverse areas: Kalutara, a predominantly Buddhist area, the hills of Victoria Dam in Digana, near Kandy, with a Tamil population (from tea-picking history), and since August, here on the lagoon in Negombo, a predominantly Catholic community. 

The divisions based on faith reflect the way Sri Lankan society tends to define itself - for better or worse - but each experience has afforded me insights into a country which I've really come to love.

THE GALLE FORT

The old Dutch Fort of Galle, the best preserved of the island's 7 remaining colonial forts, is a place to fall in love with. Here I've experienced yet another aspect to this kaleidescopoic culture, befriended by many of the so-callled Ceylon Moor community, Muslims who've been in Sri Lanka for centuries of generations.

Of Sri Lanka's six UNESCO  sites, the Galle Fort is one in which you can easily spend more than a few hours exploring. Not only is it a complete town preserved and restored from its earliest days, but its intact walls surround a vibrant community whose diverse ancestral roots reflect the history of Sri Lanka's heritage as a trading destination since Classical times, and a place of mythological mystery in medieval times, when it came to be known as 'Serendip'. 

Today the fort is in a word of its own.  Many residents continue to live in ancestral homes, like Moranna, here, whilst others can trace their family back severn generations. It's  a friendly place.  For a month, I was the only 'foreigner' living in the fort, a rare opportunity to  get to know the residents in a relaxed way, often being invited in for tea, sweets and conversation  and even the first meal after the fast of Ramadan began ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GALLE FORT

The old Dutch Fort of Galle, the best preserved of the island's 7 remaining colonial forts, is a place to fall in love with. Here I've experienced yet another aspect to this kaleidescopoic culture, befriended by many of the so-callled Ceylon Moor community, Muslims who've been in Sri Lanka for centuries of generations.

Of Sri Lanka's six UNESCO  sites, the Galle Fort is one in which you can easily spend more than a few hours exploring. Not only is it a complete town preserved and restored from its earliest days, but its intact walls surround a vibrant community whose diverse ancestral roots reflect the history of Sri Lanka's heritage as a trading destination since Classical times, and a place of mythological mystery in medieval times, when it came to be known as 'Serendip'. 

Today the fort is a world of its own.  Many residents continue to live in ancestral homes, like Moranna here, whilst others can trace their family back seven generations. It's a friendly place: for a month, I was the only 'foreigner' living in the fort, a rare opportunity to  get to know the residents in a relaxed way, often being invited in for tea, sweets and conversation  and even the first meal after the fast of Ramadan began ... 

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ART + YOGA RETREAT in GALLE

with ESTE MACLEOD & ANNA in DECEMBER 2021

 

With its picturesque streets, village-like ambience, fabulous dining and laid-back pace, Galle Fort is a delightful and stimulating destination to fire up creative impulses.

 

'The Serendipity Retreat' is a collaboration with acclaimed British designer and artist Este Macleod, from 29 November - 7 December 2021, for anyone who fancies time out to make art.

We'll follow it with a 6-day 'Slow Travel masterclass' experience for those that wish to stay in a '14-day bubble' escape to a tropical paradise and record their journey in a creative way.

 

MY CURRENT LOCATION is NEGOMBO

 

where I'm spending the South West monsoon months of May - August. I even have a little boat for adventures!

Travel writer John Gimlette in his 2015 travel memoir Elephant Complex described the island as "the most beautiful country I've ever seen".  I've heard it also described as a 'lite' version of India.

Whilst that might seem the case at first glance, there's no doubt for me now that this phrase does both countries, and cultures, a great disservice.

Sri Lanka is re-opening carefully to the world, and responds quickly to covid-setbacks. 

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