We just spent one week in a small village near Neluwa town in Sri Lanka. We stayed in a “homestay”, in other words in a local home with a charming and caring family which pampered us for a week.
In addition to a week of immersion to a new culture, this was a week of disconnection and an anthem for slowness for us. However, all this scared us a little bit beforehand. I will explain all of it later on, but first a couple phrases on what brought us here and what we ended up experiencing.
Why did we put ourselves into this struggle?
It is not glorious, but it is the question we asked ourselves upon arrival to the village. The people were very charming, but there seemed to be nothing to do. No wifi, the closest village wasn’t accessible by foot, nobody really spoke English and we seemed to be doomed to eat rice for a week and get bored.
Long story short, we spent seven days in the family. Lost in the middle of nothing with nothing to do. And finally, that nothing was not so empty after all.
Our principal activity was to get to know our new family, people living in the neighborhood.
We could spend hours doing not much: observing the nature, the people, the animals. Amazing ourselves, losing ourselves in ordinary thoughts, daydreaming. And I can tell you, that did us good.
We could explore the surroundings: the tea plantations, the river where we went for a refreshment, a tea factory and a Buddhist temple with our host father.
And that’s all. Or is it? Not really. Our principal activity was to get to know our new family, people living in the neighborhood. Everywhere we went, families greeted us like princes and served us tea and bisquits. Seven days did not pass as slowly as we thought and we could have stayed longer in this village! Finally it was a shame to leave just when we had gotten used to the village life.
Going out of our comfort zone
That is what we wanted to do: to face unknown, to exceed our limits. But that does not mean doing dangerous things.
Rather it means:
- Spending time with people that we do not know, and who don’t share our culture or language.
- Spending time without internet, and especially “the intellectual pollution” created by Facebook.
- Learning how to get bored, or at least spend time doing nothing (and appreciate it).
We didn’t feel at all uncomfortable with people in “our family” or in the village. Actually, we felt comfortable with them quite fast. The Duara contact spoke some English so we could change a couple words with him.
A week without internet was a breakthrough, because we learnt that it is possible to do. Of course we could not keep up what was going on in the rest of the world, and it did not matter! :)
By meeting these people with simple and happy lives we felt like progressing in our pursuit of changing our lifestyle. We got closer to the ideal way of living, and the ideal way of travelling.
One thing is clear: we will definitely continue to stay in homestays, if possible outside of touristy areas in the nature just like Neluwa.