Ayubowan / vanakkam from Colombo

My flight arrived early to Colombo yesterday at about 3pm.


Stepping off the plane, a hit of humid, warm sea air made me smile.  Oh the smell of the ocean!  How I missed it.

Indian Ocean view from the hotel's roof top )4 stories only)

Indian Ocean view from the hotel’s roof top (4 stories only)

Regretfully there was no champagne reception or upgrade to business class for me on this inaugural flight.  All that hair straightening was for naught.  I was overshadowed (how could that possibly happen?!) by the presence of recently appointed Sri Lankan Ambassador to Nepal, Ms. WS Perera, as well as the Secretary General, Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sri Lanka, Ajith D Perera on the flight.  Check out the short article in The Himalayan newspaper.

There was a bit of fanfare when checking in and my photo was taken under a festoon of blue and white balloons with a keepsake tote bag in memory of the occasion.  It clearly did not make the cut for the article.  And the 25 or so passengers shared in the celebratory cake for our dessert (after a rather delicious fish curry for lunch I might add).

Chief of Party Michael Parr picked me up and the airport and, because he had discovered during our recent calls and emails, I was as much of a fiend for coffee as he was, we went for a ‘good’ coffee (none of that Nescafe out of a jar for me!) before landing at the hotel.  A very good start.

The hotel is across from the ocean,  a nice warm breeze with waves crashing in the salty air.  Electricity 24/7, air conditioning everywhere, altogether very luxurious as compared to day to day life in Nepal.  I’ll be staying at the hotel for the next 5 days, and we will figure it out from there.

The hotel's infinity pool. I'll be taking a dip in that later.

The hotel’s infinity pool. I’ll be taking a dip in that later.

Tharanga is a senior manager with Land O’Lakes and she and her husband kindly took me for dinner.  What a feast!  I let them order a traditional Sri Lankan meal and my goodness, it was just delicious!  Grace – you just have to come visit if only for the food!  I’ll have to learn these recipes while I am here.  Apparently hoppers are a little finicky to make but they can bought easily and cheaply at food stalls.

Vadairasam - a thin spicy soup with tamarind base to start

Vadairasam – a thin spicy soup with tamarind base to start

We washed all this down with a G&T.  What more could one ask for?

Apparently there was a shortage of local beer for a few months here in Sri Lanka late May as a result of flood damage at Colombo’s Lion Brewery.  Beer had to be imported which of course increased the price.  But it seems things are getting back to normal now ….. much to the relief of the locals.  It was clearly a traumatic experience, I was told about it within hours of landing by three separate parties!

I am not 24 hours here as yet and things are off to a great start.  My colleagues are down to earth, smart, worldly and have ‘can do’ attitudes about them – my kind of people.

Ayubowan / Poyvituvarukiren for now!

(Sinhalese / Tamil)

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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12 Responses to Ayubowan / vanakkam from Colombo

  1. jgedye says:

    That’s a nice soft landing but don’t get too used to the luxury – surely that’s not reality! Regardless, quite a different experience already! Enjoy.


  2. Tina Nielsen says:

    Sounds absolutely wonderful. Definitely a step up in the luxury department. I hope you enjoy the work as much as the food and pool!

  3. Terri says:

    Hey Kate- love hearing about your journey! The hotel looks absolutely stunning! And the food! Wow! Have to admit to some jealousy! All the best, Terri

  4. Jacqueline Massey says:

    So glad you’ve landed safe and sound. Not to mention well taken care of in most important ways. Enjoy! And when can I visit …?

  5. Mick Canning says:

    Ooh, you’re there, now! Which hotel are you in?

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