Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sri Lanka at Last!

We finally arrived into Sri Lanka this morning - landing bright and early at 1:05am!

We cleared through immigration and customs with ease and our luggage arrived fairly quickly. I think we were off the plane and out the exit door in less than 20 minutes!

I had arranged for a driver to come and pick us up and as we exited the arrivals lounge, I immediately started to scan the crowd for someone holding up a placard with my name on it. It's also during this same time that worry sets in that no one is there waiting for me. Luckily though, there was. As always, we mutually greet each other with smiles of relief.


We quickly introduced ourselves - I can't remember his name. We followed our driver out of the arrival terminal into the hot and humid night and to a parking lot where we waited for him to retrieve the car. On our short walk, the driver told us that he had been at the airport the night before and had waited almost two hours for us to arrive. I told him what had happened and that I would compensate him for his time i.e., tip him generously.

A small white mini van pulled up and the driver got out. We piled our luggage and ourselves into the van and made our way down the road to the hotel.

The hotel was only 12 km from the airport and although we were on a two lane road, it was just about a 20 minute ride to the hotel - Angel Inn.

On the way, we chatted with the driver, a young man who works from 9-5 each day as a merchandiser and as a driver at night to earn extra money. He offered to take us around town but I told him we only had a day in Negombo and that we had already made arrangements to travel to the other parts of the country. I went ahead and asked him to give me his mobile number as you never know if you need a ride somewhere or not and he seemed like a very decent guy.

I was glad the driver knew where he was going because the hotel was located on a narrow side street off the main road that we were driving on.

We pulled out front of a place that looked like it was still under construction. As you would expect, given the time of night, there were no lights on in the hotel.

The driver parked the car and got out. We followed him to a door. We could hear a man snoring loudly from inside the room. Our driver shouted, "Uncle" several times before a bleary eyed man appeared at the door. It was Marcus, the hotel owner. Marcus led us to our room - first room at the very front of the property.

We walked inside to a sparsely furnished but clean room - just a bed (complete with mosquito net), a small bedside table and desk. The bathroom was simple but clean. I had reserved an air conditioned room for us. I didn't see the remote control unit so Marcus had to retrieve one for us. It was late and I was tired. I didn't want to be rude but I wanted the guys to leave so I could get to bed. We had a full day ahead of us and I wanted to be fully rested to take it all in.

We followed the guys back outside and said goodnight to Marcus and goodbye to the driver. I gave the driver his tip and in return , he wrote his name -xxx and mobile number on a piece of paper.

Back in the room, I crawled into bed while my brother took a shower. The air conditioner was doing its job and soon enough the room was cool. The bed only came with a sheet for a cover and that was just perfect for me.

By the time we both drifted off to sleep, it must have been close to 4am. It had been a very, very long day that had not gotten off to a good start but had ended well. Hoping the rest of the trip continues to be like this!