BootsnAll Travel Network

I Left My Heart at Amanwella

I spent my last night eating dinner Sandun’s house in the Amanwella Village (the resort is named after the village they built right in the middle of ). His father is a fisherman and is out on the sea now, so his 3 lovely younger sisters and mother prepared a delicious Sri Lankan rice and curry. I assumed that we would all be eating together but Sandun says that the Sri Lankans don’t eat as late as 8:00 and so they already had dinner, but it seemed like the girls prepared a romantic meal for us. We spent the rest of the evening drinking tea by moonlight underneath lush jungle plants surrounded by lurking sounds of frogs, buzzing mosquitoes and chanting geckos and every so often a bat soaring mysteriously above our heads.The next day I met Sandun to say goodbye. I had my things packed up and waiting out front of Amanwella. I ordered my last breakfast of hashbrowns and porage to be ready for me at 10.  I met Sandun at the beach, the usual spot underneath the palm trees by the boats, and he was sporting my BOULDER shirt with a pair of jeans. As a backpacker, you must go through your things before every departure to ensure you are carrying as least amount on your back as possible. So I got rid of a lot of clothing that I had bought in Sri Lanka for my stay, along with a few items I had brought from Colorado. I decided to give my Sri Lankan skirts and some American tops, along with one of my favorite bags that I was carrying around art supplies in, to Sandun’s sisters (they were shy at first, revealing only sweet smiles from my gifts but Sandun later revealed to me that once I left they were dancing around in the skirts and tops!) I also had to part ways with my favorite jersey cotton grey BOULDER t-shirt, and decided to gave it to Sandun. I reminded him to tell people asking about BOULDER that “It is in the mountains in Colorado, in the center of the United States, and there is lots of snow!” We exchanged small gifts, goodbyes and a kiss (I made him a collage and he gave me a birthday card that I ended up reading later that day) then went on my way to hand out other goodbyes which would become harder and harder as they happened.I ate my last meal surrounded by all of my favorite Amanwella boys. These wonderful boys served me my 3 daily meals with a side of Sri Lankan culture. For countless hours I quizzed the boys on their families, love and romance, food, animals, plants, the Sinhala language and much much more! It was hard to finish my breakfast as I was surrounded by adorable puppy faces pleading “please take us with you Aubrey” and “don’t ever forget us”. I will never forget my Amanwella boys, how could I? In the midst of the luxuries of staying at the resort, they were my friends and my insight into the real story behind those beautiful brown faces that inhabit this tiny island in the middle of the Indian ocean. Without them, I would not know the Sri Lankan people the way that I do now.It was difficult to pull away from the crowd of teary eyed boys. I gave them each a hug, took a few photos and went to the car which had already packed my backpack. As I climbed into the van I turned around to see a gathering of all the other Amanwella workers. The spa therapists, the receptionists, the servers, and the housekeepers. They had all lined up to see me off, and it was this sight that pulled the first tear from my eye. I turned my face to hide my sadness, but just as all of the most beautiful sorrows take over us, I let the tears come. I turned back one last time as they all waved, and saw a familiar image in my mind. It was these same crowd who had greeted me upon my arrival, welcoming me to my new home, but as strangers. And now as I left Amanwella, the sight of them standing in the entrance was the same, but the feeling was different. Now I was not leaving the strangers that had welcomed me, but I was leaving my friends and the family that had been with me through the holidays and the last month of my life.I drove through Amanwella village, past Sanduns home with tears streaming down my face. The kind that are so heavy they slide down your face and drop off your chin before you can even blink them away. I opened up the birthday card (7 days early) that Sandun had given me. In it was the poem that Sandun had recited to me the day he saw me dancing in the rain at the Muligirigala Rock Temple.

“It must have been a rainy day, the day that you were born. But it wasn’t really rain, the sky was crying because he lost his most beautiful angel”

This is when I realized that I left a part of my heart at Amanwella.

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