Guns and Water Features…..we must be in Sri
Trip Start May 21, 2007
127Trip End Sep 19, 2010
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We started our journey by spending a wonderful 9 hours in Heathrow Airport because BMI decided that flights from Belfast to Heathrow shouldn't be as frequent as someone flying to Sri Lanka would like them to be. Therefore, to make the most of our time, we decided to become experts in the 5 terminals of Heathrow. We shuttled between terminals 1, 4 and 5 and have to say terminal 5 is our favourite as you can spend a whole hour in Accessorise!
The day began with what some may find exciting - Caroline shared her flight with Paul Weller! She didn’t recognize him, but when a very fashionable 50+ man, with straightened hair and an entourage with sunglasses boards a plane, you know it isn’t just your average Joe Bloggs. She had to rapidly google to make sure who he was. Now with bumping into "celebrities" and becoming “Professional Airport Spotters”, we knew we were in for a wild adventure…!
Having waited for 1000 hours with 347 tonnes of baggage, we were delighted when check in opened earlier than we thought! As things were finally going our way, we decided that we would try our luck and negotiate our way to First Class. Obviously our wit and charm would have got us there…if it was not full! We have high hopes and aspirations for the return journey! As if 12 hours in economy class with no leg room wasn’t thrilling enough, we had to make a scheduled stop in the Maldives for an hour, which soon became 3! Now this sounds like paradise and we shouldn’t complain, but we arrived in the middle of a thunderstorm making us think we had landed back in Heathrow to check out the remaining 2 terminals! All was not lost when we were told we were allowed to get out and stretch our legs in the departure lounge, which sounds innocent enough, were it not for the fact that we were herded to a locked door. There followed a succession of Maldivian security staff who each refused to believe the door was locked as each tried it, before walking off to find someone else to try it. Obviously in the Maldives, keys are not thought of when trying to unlock a locked door. This became apparent to us when for some reason, one security man came with a new door handle - sadly he had no success either, but amused us. Eventually they admitted defeat and we were ushered to the arrival lounge and will never know what joys were behind that door! Finally we resumed our flight, but sleep was hard to come by so Anna was not impressed when an Air hostess woke her up and shoved food in her face during the final leg….Caroline was even less impressed to hear Anna had said “No” to food. Luckily Anna realized the error of her ways and quickly grabbed a pasty for each of us before it was too late!
At long last 5million hours later (well really 28 hours) we arrived into Colombo airport, went through scary passport control, got our visa and collected all our bags. We were met by Heshan and went back to his brother’s house where we are staying for a few days with him. Randomly, it has a large water feature in the living room which Anna thought might house crocodiles, but thankfully does not, just fish! Our hostess also shared that the water feature is an excellent place to sit and contemplate life….however it seems the only thing we need to contemplate is “who is Paul Weller” and “what is behind that door in the Maldives Airport?” It was great to see the family again and meet our new baby sister, Dinithi, who is very cute and likes to hiccup and giggle. We are obviously missing Ronali Amma terribly and it’s strange not having her around, but it’s good spending time with Heshan and the kids and reminiscing about all the fun times we had together.
Today has been a fairly relaxed day, if you call being held a gunpoint relaxing! Obviously we are exaggerating a bit so we shall contextualise…we took a trip into town in search of an ATM. In Sri Lanka, all banks contain armed guards and ATM’s are in little booths outside. So having squeezed into this non-air conditioned box, we looked out the door to see an armed guard making his way towards us, not with a small shotgun but a rather imposing looking gun. He then opened the door, to reveal a bank official who promptly demanded to see our bank card. It soon transpired that he wanted to check to see if we had a visa card and if it would work. Don’t you love the subtle ways of the Sri Lankans which we should be used to by now! This trip was finished off with a “Henna Hunt” and the afternoon was spent covering ourselves, Heshi, her cousin and all in the vicinity with Henna tattoos.
So Caroline, what are our plans for the rest of the time? Well Anna, we are heading down to Hambantota on Wednesday to start at the school and are very much looking forward to seeing the children and teachers again. We talked to Nayani (headmistress) earlier today and she has already promised us lots of hardwork ahead. Anna shall be translator as Nayani has forgotten the Norn Iron accent it seems! Tomorrow we are going into Colombo, so if anything exciting happens, we’ll let you know!
Until next time, Ayubowan!