Six days, 4 adults and 5 kids in a village in a developing country. To some that might sound like a lot of work. Many people prefer ease and comfort on their holiday, but Elodie’s and Mélanie’s families chose to take an adventure and it was worth it. It was not difficult they say – a kid’s play in Sri Lanka!

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Arriving in Alagollewa at dark on the first night the two French families were not convinced they had made the right choice. There had been a storm and some trees had fallen down to the road on the way to the village. The children were tired after the long journey.

“I thought to myself oh, what have I booked… I hope it will go alright. It is funny to think about it afterwards. I just thought to myself that tomorrow it’s a new day”, Elodie, mother of one of the families, says.

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Real communal village life indeed. In Alagollewa a visitor can also cook with the host family, help milking cows and play corona or volleyball with the locals.

And it was. The families took a walk in the village and said hello to everyone there. The children settled in immediately and started to play with the local kids. To them it was not an issue that they didn’t have a common language.

The adults enjoyed their time in the village too and assure that taking enough time for the village experience is the best option. The two families stayed six nights in the village, which they say was a better option than three nights.

If you want to have time for doing nothing, save a week for your village experience

“You don’t have time to “doing nothing” in three days. We spent time doing nothing, just sitting with the villagers, playing and drawing together. In three days you might not have time for that, because you are in a hurry to do things and keep asking yourself “what’s next, what’s next”, Elodie explains.

In six days you really have time to relax and enjoy the different pace of living in a village. Elodie also explains that during the longer stay they had time to build a relationship with their hosts.

The hosts even took care of their children, which was a pleasant surprise to the French families. “Everyone in the village, children and adults, could take care of our babies. Here home there is nobody to help us with our kids in a spontaneous way”, Elodie says.

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Melanie and Elodie were not the first ones to travel with small children to Duara villages in Sri Lanka. Duara's co-founder Annika travelled around Sri Lanka early in 2017 with her husband and 1,5 year old daughter. Before that another French family stayed in Neluwa and Kalkudah. They wrote about their experience in their blog Ma Famillle Voyage, and in fact this is what inspired Elodie and Melanie  to stay with a host family for the first time. 

“We wanted to stay with a local host and we didn’t know how to do it until we found Duara Travels through the blog post.”

Elodie says that when travelling with kids they usually prefer to do it easy and comfortably. Yet this time they chose to take a risk and gave up some of the comfort.

In the village they did not have showers, just buckets. And yet, these are some of the things that made the visit such a valuable experience for them. When you give up some of the comfort you might be used to, you get a more authentic and deeper experience. 

"Before hand we doubted since there is no comfort [in the village, which we are used to], but when we arrived we forgot all about it, it didn’t matter”, says Elodie.

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What matters is that they and the kids got a very new view of the world and an experience the older kids will remember for years.

According to Elodie, at return to France, they were amazed by all the everyday luxuries they have, and appreciate things like limitless warm running water.

“We can’t wait to travel to another Duara village in another country one day. It’s a completely different way to travel that gives a real human exchange that we can never get in a hotel. We were so happy with the experience that right after Alagollewa we started to browse all other villages on the website and think about where to go next”, Elodie says, “And we really really want to go back to Alagollewa.”

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PHOTOS FROM THE TRAVELLERS. TEXT SAARA NOKELAINEN.