BootsnAll Travel Network

From Diamonds to Dust

It was a 6 hour drive from Tangalle to Negombo. I am staying at a guest house for 800 rupees a night (around 7 US dollars) and will be leaving Tuesday morning around 5 am for the airport to go to India.The most bittersweet part of backpacking is arriving at a new destination. It is exciting to arrive in a new place, but at the same time it is unfamiliar. There is this moment when you realize that you don’t know the town, the people, the patterns of daily life etc like you knew at the last place. You must stay take your time to explore the town and meet some locals to make this place feel like home for a few days. You don’t realize how you become comfortable and start to gel, til you move on to the next destination. This happens over and over and over again until you get back to your home country and feel like it was all just a dream.I had these bittersweet feelings as I arrived in the town of Negombo. Beach Villa Guest House is a backpacker’s haven, cheap to nothing rooms and food, posted directly in front of the beach (and soccer field which I’ll get to in a moment). After storing my backpack in my jail cell of a room (paint peeling on the walls, torn shower curtain, noisy fan, hard bed mattresses and flat pillow cases) I wandered out to the beach for sunset. The sand was brown and the water was a dark gloomy color, nothing like the postcard perfect beach of Amanwella. I walked through the water, it was the same sea, but a different part of it that was unfamiliar to me. The feelings set in again. I missed Amanwella. I missed the white sand. I missed Sandun. I missed my comfy king sized bed. I missed Rupee, the stray dog that slept on my porch. I missed my Amanwella boys.I retreated to my kriya meditation that I do every day. I hadn’t done it yet so I took this time to tune out the external world.. 45 minutes later the all too familiar sound of barefeet passing around a soccer ball took me out of my meditation. I turned around to notice that there were two wooden posts with a string drawn across the top and a group of various aged boys (from 10-25 years old!) passing around the ball. Thankfully I’ve spent 90% of my life on a soccer field, and bless this world, for it is a universal language, a sport that every side of the earth knows how to play (much more passionately in every country outside of the US). I ran into my prison cell at the Beach Villa Guest House to put on my sports bra, and emerged with the intent of becoming part of this new beach and knocking around some of the local boys.As I entered the sand field, sans-boundaries, I yelled “Can I play?” Their excitement and yelling (who knows what they were saying in Sinhalese) attracted a larger audience, I’m not sure if they were more curious because I was a foreigner, or if I was a girl (girls in Sri Lanka don’t play sports). The opposing team laughed as they now had to become skins, so I could differentiate the teams, and obviously they weren’t going to make me take off my shirt. The energy of the game picked up and the heckling began. My team mates didn’t pass to me for the first 10 minutes of the game, but as soon as I started tackeling and knocking them into the sand, they knew I was serious and was here to get dirty.We played a crappy game of soccer till we couldn’t see the ball any longer.  The Sri Lankans have no tactics for the game but tackle, run fast, and boot the ball. But they were tough. I promised to come back the next night, same time same place, and retreated to my room covered in brown Negombo beach dust.I woke up today with sore calves, bruised shins, and scrapes from the rocks in the sand. Playing soccer on the beach is tough and the ball moves at snail speed, like running in slow motion in a dream, but I came back for more. The boys were sad that it was my last night playing, since I’m leaving tomorrow morning for India, but I took down one of their addresses and promised to send them a box of soccer balls when I return back to the US.

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