i felt as if i had a blow to my stomach. i had thought that this, our first journey together, was gonna be a shared experience, where both of us, longtime travellers, would co-operate in many ways.
in fact, we met on the road, and we flowed so good together in thailand, that we thought we were meant to be, just through that incredible flow of money, organising, eating, talking and discovering. great travelling buddies, great travelling romance.
but in sri lanka, he was not flowing. he wanted to be the boss. and i immediately got constipated.
although the biggest reason for me to not go to sri lanka had nothing to do with all of the above.
just a few days before we were supposed to fly, i found out that my beloved grandmother had liver-cancer and was dying. i always felt very connected to both of my grandmothers, and this was a big disaster for me and our family. i discussed with my parents what i should do, and they told me they gave me their blessing to go travelling; i promised to call almost every day to check her health, and if she was dying, i had some extra cash saved on the side, so that i would be able to quickly fly home.
i was crying a lot, for the state of my babcia (grandmother in polish). i loved her very much.
the place we stayed in, was empty, and this was quite spooky. a beautiful beach resort without a living soul but the sunset...ahhh..
in the night, i had an intense dream. i was at a remote bus station in burma, and was about to get robbed by a gang of men. they were holding a sharp knife to my throat- and suddenyl an old childhood friend, Björn-Inge Blomqist, also known as Bib, showed up, and rescued me.
The next moment i hear him wake up next to me, scream, or rather, roar, and run out the door. i see flashlights and i hear feet running quickly down the stairs, and i run out the door to see what's going on.
apparently he had seen a hand pulling my handbag from the table close to the window, and a body going through our stuff further away in our big room. he had woken up and was ready to chase them- the owners woke up and came running, everyone was shaken by the intrusion.
one of the first nights, there was a huge party set up in the night on the beach. we went, and as we love to dance, we danced. i mean, crazy dancing.
i danced alone, with others, with everyone. i danced myself loose and crazy and had one of the best nights of my life. no alcohol, no drugs- just DANCE. i was aware of being filmed at some point and people were loving it- clapping, calling, admiring me...
the next day i was famous in the village.
i stepped out of our bungalow to have a morning coffee, and people were screamiong "VERY GOOD DANCING!!!" and calling my name, clapping their hands, running after me, wanting to pull my limbs and my hair. i was also made aware that the DVD with the movie of me dancing was circulating in the village.
michael never let me out of sight from that moment.
from then on, i was not allowed to walk on my on, anywhere, in sri lanka.
he walked me to a coffee place in the afternoon, where i wanted to drink a fresh coconut. he was trying to ward off my admirers, which at that moment happened to be a small dog, and it bit him in his foot. we were rushed to hospital for a rabies-shot and had to spend hours and hours locked into that crowded and understaffed place.
michael later told me, that in that moment, when we looked into each other's eyes, he was about to propose to me. and then the wave struck.
anyway. i still hadn't been to the loo. i was constipated as can be, and i was growing desperate.
i was spending a fortune calling my family, and they said each time, that babcia was close to dying. i was crying rivers.
we were studying buddhism. in fact, no better place imaginable than sri lanka to learn about buddhism. near and far, here and there, we visited important sites and temples, and met people willing to share their knowledge. i was intrigued, michael was too, we were interviewing people, seeing amazing things, hearing strange stories.
we decided to travel north to experience that part of the island. trincomalee. we bought train-tickets and were ready to go, when we went to the internet place before and i had the bright idea of checking the bbc website and saw the breaking news that a huge bomb had gone off in the middle of the city, in the market, and had killed hundreds of people.
we changed our plan, and went inland instead.
still visiting many important buddhist sites, we kept ourselves busy.
i was still not going to the loo. desperate about this dysfunction, i tried auyrvedic potions. i tried weird yoga postures, i tried god knows what.
one morning in kandy, the home of the buddha's tooth, i woke up at 4 am and heard the monks chanting across the valley. i went outside, to sit on the balcony, and the night was balmy and tropical. the chanting of the monks carried such a magical feel across the valley, that i went to the loo for the first time since i had arrived in sri lanka.
later, we went to the buddhist new year ceremonies in the temple of the tooth. to get into the busy celebrations, we had to wait in line with hundreds of others. they all had umbrellas, for some weird reason, which we soon were to discover: huge birds were parked in the trees above us, and goddamn it- they had never know constipation in their lives, i tell ya!
we celebrated new years in a weird town called nurelia or something like that. the surroundings were bizarrely english, and they were growing strawberries and tea on those fields. also in this town, i became famous. i was the only western looking person there, and they were not really used to consuming the amounts of alcohol that they were consuming that night. they treated me like madonna. they followed me and screamed, they leaned out of cars and shouted, one car even got in an accident after the whole content of the car (young boys, like 14 of them) were leaning out of the windows, screaming at me. i was sort of amused at the whole thing, but michael was not.
at night, in the hotel, i was awake all through the night, listening to drunk people screaming and puking, along with fat rats running on the floors and between the walls.
temples, boys, strawberries, sunsets...we continued our journey. i was still not going to the loo, my babcia was still dying each time i called home. still not allowed to be alone.
we took a train back south.
it ran over something dull- there was a thud. the train eventually stopped.
someone had decided to commit suicide and his body was cut in half, right under my seat.
we had to stay there for around 5 hours, while the whole village came to say their tearful goodbyes to that dude, and all the train-passengers had to go and have a look- only to return with a green look on their faces.
but then we found ella. what a place! up in the highlands. the fogs rolled in across the lush forests each afternoon. i loved it. i felt free. i slept like a baby. michael went off to play carrum with the local boys and he left me alone. i was wathcing the fog roll in, and i was sleeping. i was relaxing and doing yoga. i loved ella.
we chose a place to stay, and all night i was awake, fearing the huge, fat rats would drop down on the bed. the next day we found another place, and i took a shower in the morning, and suddenly discovered a big, brown, curious eye looking at me through a perfectly cut-out peephole. great.
i then found us an expensive hotel, with stone walls, on the third floor. no rats, no peepholes. there, we had a tv with many channels, and i had the TV on 24 hours, listened to the BBC nonstop, through my deep sleep. i remember michael vaguely, as he was bringing me fruit and water, urging me to wake up, but i refused. i slept nonstop for the last three days, and i also went to the loo, each time i woke up. i was finally over this trip. wow.
what is the moral of this story?
i have no idea.
maybe: don't do it if your gut feeling tells you not to?
don't do it if your gut is not co-operating, i mean?
but then again, the sunsets....wow.
there's always a ray of light in each gut feeling? always something good in each situation?
light pervades in darkness?
i don't know.
ps. my babcia stayed alive, miraculously so, for the next 8 months. no one could have predicted she would last that long.
oh, and we did get married. and divorced a year after the marriage.