Picture this. Sri Lanka. The hotel you’ve booked suddenly needs an extra room and the hotel manager looks to you to give up your room. You agree, albeit reluctantly. You get in the car with a driver who knows no English so you can’t ask where you’re going. After driving at least four hours, you are then dropped in the middle of the Sri Lankan jungle.
Yes, the jungle. Tall lush foliage, bugs galore and humidity so high and thick you’re dripping wet just by being outside. And, being outside is the only place to be. There is no inside. The only noise is nature reminding you-you’re not alone.
The place looks to be a resort except the only pathway there is a swaying suspension bridge stretching across a river. The only other person where you’re dropped is a man who smiles but knows zero English. The man does speak tho’ you’ve no idea what is being said so frustrated gestures take over as the only form of communication. You nod while smiling back.
You sit, twist open a stale lukewarm Coca-Cola that barely whooshes when the cap comes off, and you think – “ok, now what?” Naturally, you hop on the swing thinking of your next move and then wonder, “will I get to eat, or was breakfast my last meal until I see civilisation again?”
This is a definite go-with-the-flow moment. If there is one thing I’ve learned while travelling, especially in less developed countries, it is – don’t get nervous nor agitated when confronted with the unexpected. In fact, I find it best to take a deep breath, gather my thoughts and then decide to make the most of the experience.
The area is beautiful. Tall leafy trees tower overhead. Vines stretch from the ground then tangle in the branches like an ominous web waiting for its master’s prey. The trickle of water in the river below faintly emotes movement. The thick moist air remains still. Any movement causes a river of sweat dripping on the brow and clothing becomes sticky and wet.
It’s quiet, yet unfamiliar sounds from unknown creatures and critters bellow like the crescendo of Carmina Burana in a symphony hall.
The day stretches into night, the symphony grows louder, steps shallower. The unknown becomes so intense, the mind wanders more. And then, the electricity goes out. Complete darkness compounds the “wild” thoughts until every shred of inner strength clears the mind and calms the nerves.
Was I ever in danger? No. The truth is an urban gentleman alone in a jungle is like a nomad in London. Our eyes are wide, our thoughts go into overdrive and we both feel nervous. In the end, we learn we’re stronger than we know even though our worries are unnecessary.
A True Story and I still don’t know where I was. I hope to return one day soon.
Destination: Sri Lanka