LOST in Sri Lanka

What day is it if you arrive at midnight? Is it the night or the morning? Twelve hours later I find out that whatever I conveyed in my email to the AED office, came across as 24 hours the wrong day.

I arrived on time and was one of the last to get my baggage - and entered the post-midnight throng of arivees. I figured, how many single white girls can there be coming in? I should be pretty easy to spot! Well... I would have been if someone would have been there - but again - no such luck. I sat in the humidity, and paced back and forth amidst the throng, weaved my 200 lbs of luggage through the drunks and disorderlies and prayed:

"darkness is not dark to You."

I perched atop my unusual luggage and fanned away the fear, turned down 101 offers for rides, cabs, tours, and telephone numbers - thanking God that I had enough presence of mind in Singapore to realize I did not have and address or telephone number of where I was going.

Two hours later, and all the people gone except for those strangers who had brought in a variety of oversized electronics (like refrigerators) I decided to trust a man to find me a hotel. Whether or not he was trustworthy - at 3:00 in the morning I didn't have much choice but to trust.

After many phone calls on his dying cell phone, then using the land line of some sleeping travel agents, he found a hotel that had internet access and space available. "Cash only please" Now, I am down to $20 US dollars and $100 in Sri Lankan money that I exchanged and hope. When I turned over my $135 US and he walked away across the dark parking lot - I had this thought "Oh well, he looked sincere enough." He did return with a van and driver and guaranteed to deliver me to the hotel (somewhere south of Colombo) and off we went into the darkness.

Strange feeling driving through abandoned streets, watching the time (wondering how long it was REALLY going to take) marveling at the wild dog packs, a variety of men gathered on street corners (odd time of night) and every block or so "idols" set up for prayers. The variety of Hindu gods and goddesses cast in clay - some painted, some plain - all silent.

It was weird!

I just kept praying... and praying. I felt somewhat at ease because if they were going to rob me or whatever, they sure were going out of their way and wasting a lot of fuel to do it. After almost an hour of seemingly endless deserted city streets, we turned down a side, I see only the silence of blinking traffic lights - flashing caution to the few cars that pass. Here and there are street repairs and I'm curious is it just new improvements or the repair in the aftermath of the tsunami? Finally we arrive at Mount Lavinia Hotel - a well preserved relic from British Colonial times. Even at 4:00 am the doorman is in white gloves and full colonial attire like a strange Hollywood movie. How did I get here?

Four hours later up with the dawn and fierce crashing waves outside my balcony. Well, if you have to be LOST, this is a good place for it! As soon as the business center opened I sent out the following 911 request:

There was NO PLAN B! I waited at the airport until 3:00 am and no one came to pick me up. So here I am at the Mount Lavinia Hotel right on the ocean. I have NO IDEA where I am in relation to where I need to be - except the nice man who helped me get here at the early hour - said it was the only hotel that was available with internet access!

So here I am (approximately 1 hour from the airport - I think south). The only number I have for ANYONE is off the website (I happened to think to check in Singapore) for the AED office in Colombo. It is now 8:00am and I will go and have some breakfast (hopefully I can keep it down) and then check my email again to see if anyone from AED has responded! Then I will wait in my room for a telephone call - I will try their office - or hopefully someone will call me by then!

Obviously with everything that is going on the enemy is pulling out all the stops. But we are unstoppable!

Lost - but smiling!

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