I flew to Sri Lanka in search of warmth and sunshine and for a break from the British winter. A new president was elected and the Pope arrived in Colombo to canonise the first Sri Lankan saint.
Harrogate was covered in fresh snow the day I braved the M62 to Manchester. Traffic was horrid and it took me three hours to crawl to the airport leaving me no time for a G&T in one of the Airport Angel lounges. In security, a woman swabbed my jacket. “What are looking for” I asked her. “Traces of explosives” she said. “Try my head. It is about to burst” I told her. She smiled.
Emirates flight 020 to Dubai that evening was one of the worst I have ever had. The cuisine would not win any awards and the service was in a sorry state. However, Emirates flight 654 from Dubai to Colombo somewhat restored my faith in the company. Dubai looked glamorous as ever. As you no longer need to take the airport train to catch your connection, transit time in Dubai airport is significantly reduced.
There were lots of smiles in Colombo airport that afternoon. One of the duty free shops noted the Emirates Skyward number on my bag and gave me 11% discount on my liquor purchases! “The new government is great” the salesman smiled. The porter moaned about the lack of business but hoped things would get better with the new lot in power. I tipped him generously and asked him to get me a car from the Airport Drivers Association kiosk. As we drove towards Colombo on the expressway, the driver was scathing about the ex-president and his brothers who ruled the country for ten years. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the roads are no longer lined by police and soldiers.
The sun and warmth I craved for was abundant. I sat in the verandah and sipped cool beer, watching Long-billed Sun Birds frolicking in the garden and waiting for my hot, spicy dinner to arrive. The endangered purple-faced monkeys growled and sprang from tree to tree. I was pleased to see that the mango tree is in flower but realised I would not be hear to enjoy the fruit in July. But I will have two months in the sun. There will be no wine but a great deal of beer will be poured huge amounts of rice and fish consumed!