#paradise

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Cows walking freely and eating

The other day a friend sent a message asking how life is in paradise.
Sure, it’s very much like what many people would consider paradise here in Sri Lanka; turquise colored water, white sandy beaches, coconut trees everywhere, fresh fruits and lots of other tropical features.

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Curry in the making

It’s also sooooo much more…

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Anything-you-need-shop

Stray dogs, poor people, mosquitos, noisy neighbors, crazy traffic…

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Fish curry cooking for memorial ceremony

Smiles, fresh fruits, small talk, caring friends, colorful corals, wild monkeys…

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Vegetable market

Rain, power loss, water from a well, exotic birds, tasty foods, sweet tea…

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Truck loaded with bananas

Loud music, flip-flops, batik clothes, arrak, tuktuks, insane “que-system”(anyone passes the line at any time), low education level, history, language difficulties…

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Beach with a view in Galle

Cricket, boats, military, school uniforms, temples, rice and curry, ceremonies, home made food, pollution, laces, Ayurveda…

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Headband to protect the ears in the afternoon breeze

Sun screen, swimming with clothes on, bare feet, beggars, religious people, buses, lizards, trash, sunsets, alcoholics…

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Sunset at Weligama Beach

In other words – this is a country with many sides, people of all sorts and it’s own culture. A paradise for some, a not-so-much paradise for some. Like every place and every country I guess.

//Wivan

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Resetting; creating new ways

After the blog post last week, with more questions than answers, we’ve let ourselves off the hook for a while. We’ve relaxed into the mood of tiredness, confusion and tried to “live the questions”, like the quote by Rainer Maria Rilke that Helena wrote in a comment.

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A butterfly of some kind

For a couple of days we simply didn’t answer any local calls – we simply decided to have a vacation and change our pattern of doing things. No planned events, no promises and no set times or saying yes just because it’s too hard to explain why not.
In this time, and the following days, we’ve also made sure not to make any big decisions, but to let ourselves be in a space of not knowing what we want to do of all of this. Just be.

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Sunday morning surf

The people working at and running the guest house where we stay have been very nice and helpful during this shift, taking special orders for foods we want, letting us be a bit more flexible and make sure we’re doing well and get what we want.

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Wivan love string hoppers for breakfast

Anders have spent time watching movies in the room, I’ve taken walks on my own and slipped away from some of the many conversations that are easy to get into just by looking at someone one second too long. Surfing together a couple of mornings, reading and asking for separate dishes for breakfast and dinner – not always eating the same food just to make it easier for others, but to get what we really want to have. And we’ve eaten some of the meals in our room instead of in the restaurant.

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Sunrise in Weligama

In these few days that have passed, a new calmness have started to settle, and also an understanding of how tiresome it is to adapt; to try new foods, places and to most of the time try and make sure we don’t insult anyone by saying no to their invitations. We’ve had great experiences with many people along the way thanks to them letting us be part of their lives, and it’s also taken a lot of energy to try to understand, to be around people and to communicate without having a complete shared language.

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Surfing Sri Lanka

With help from friends and family memebers, we’ve also started to see more clearly how used we’re to having time and space for ourselves, to be able to retreat into a quiet house or nature, to simply not having people around – something that’s common in Sweden and parts of Europe, but very rare in Asia.

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Not many people in the water early mornings

These are cultural behaviors and ways of living that we’d like to mix, but that up till now have been totally separated, and that’s also part of why we feel tired and overwhelmed at times.

Now we’ve settled into staying here in Sri Lanka, for now, and take one day at a time, not planning or booking too much and letting others “kidnap” our time just because we try and say Yes more often. We still want to feel that we’re able to choose what we want and need rather than to be nice to others.

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Happy and tired after surfing

This has been a good reminder of patterns we’ve had since long time, patterns and behaviors that are easy to fall back into. To do things out of habit rather than out of choice. It takes for us to slow down a bit, to build new ways of communication with our friends and the family here, to reset the way of approaching invitations and also to be clear about what we want, and make the space for us to do more of what we want and feel good about. It can still be to spend time together with others, maybe not so often though. If that is to be a bit “awkward” or different, so be it, it’s time to be grown up in that too and just be comfortable in being different.

Take care and see if you can listen a bit more closely to what you need today.

// Wivan and Anders

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Surf's up!

“Hendru! Cats piss bag!”

On Saturday we went for a swim with some of the village kids, like we’ve done over the past weeks here in Weligama. Usually the girls and some of the mothers go swimming on Saturdays, and lately also some boys have tagged along. We like to join them in this little routine, and enjoy playing, swimming, diving, practicing English and Sinhala and spending time together in the water.

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Kids swimming and playing

This past weekend something new happened; one of the older boys had a mask and snorkel that Anders (Andrew) got to use for a while. At some point when Anders had his head above the surface, he heard:
“Hendru! Cats piss bag!” from the boy that gave him his mask. And Andrew (Anders) asked him to repeat it, since he didn’t understand what was with the bag and the cats piss.

The boy gave Anders a plastic bag and again said: “Hendru! Cats piss bag!”, and Anders realizes that the boy wants him to catch a fish into the bag. ‘Andrew! Catch fish bag’.

Sometimes the sentences and pronunciation of words creates a bit of confusion for us. And of course, at a time like this, it also makes a really good story of when the boy came to talk about the cats piss bag.

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Refreshment after swimming

Creativity at play

Do you remember?

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Starting a game of memory

An idea came and I took action right away. Created a memory game for us to play with the family – a combination of doing something fun together, and to practice words.

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A box of crackers, a cup and a pen

At bed time I often play a game or two of memory on my tablet, to practice my memory before sleeping. And now I realized it could be a fun way to work with English and Sinhala for all of us.

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21 pairs of pictures

I had fun making it, getting to use my pens and creativity to draw all the different pictures.

So tonight tried the game with the daughter of the family after dinner, and it worked out rather well.

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Not matching

She’s willing to practice, and we all learn things together – and have fun! This game also strenghten our overall communication skills and our relationships. So, for the next “lesson” we want to find something else to do, play or use as a help. Mostly, it’s spoken English that needs to be improved, and to have a few pictures to use as a base is good for small conversations and role plays.

So we’ll see what we come up with!

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Pineapple, boat, house, cup, chair...

Communication goes both ways

And so do misunderstandings.

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Egg hoppers and tea for breakfast

It’s sometimes a challenge to accept the fact that we quite a few times don’t understand our friends invitations, information and actions here in Sri Lanka. Some times we do, but a lot of times we’re confused – did we say yes to having dinner tonight or were we actually talking about breakfast tomorrow? And then we remind our Swedish thinking of doing “right” that it’s ok not to understand. The others probably don’t understand either and somehow all of us take it from there.

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Beans on toast - a favorite for Anders

We might get a call from somebody asking where we are, or they think we’re a bit odd not showing up. And yet another time we stand on their doorstep and take them by surprise, expecting lunch but apparently our message didn’t go through…

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Rainy morning

It is a good way to practice being a bit more relaxed and not focus too much on doing “right” or being correct, but rather improvise to the best of our ability, to keep an open mind and go with what happens. Sometimes a bit tiring, but also very rewarding, and certainly something we will have use for during the rest of our lives.

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Stray dog relaxing while we eat

With the mind open – what can you learn today?

//Wivan

A little bit lonely – travelers’ life?

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Breakfast on the street

Over the past weeks, pretty much since we left Bali, both of us at times have missed having people to talk to and to get to know. In Bali we met so many warm, kind people caring for us, interested in getting to know us regardless of if we speak the same language or not.
In Thailand there were other tourists and travelers and they rarely seemed interested in getting to know new people, and most of the locals were more into “selling to tourists” than open to becoming friends with a couple of Swedes.

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New friend!

Now, being in a large city, it up at moments – we are a bit lonely. The big plus is that this city is wide open, welcoming and easy to get around. But most people have their lives going already and are in the middle of something. Meeting strangers on the street isn’t really on their agenda. We would need to be part of something, take a course or get into a community to make others notice us here.

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Our great duo

We guess it’s different too, since we’re not staying in hostels where it’s usually a more sharing atmosphere and people traveling alone also go there. Since we’re a couple, we always have each other and that might close us off to some who don’t want to interfere or get in the way of our twosome.

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Bathing an elephant and talking to the others

In Thailand, when we went for some tours, both of us were the smiling, chatty people trying to strike up a conversation… It was a bit funny when we realized it after a while!

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Reminder

This has also made us realize that as humans it is important to be part of something, to be recognized every now and then, to have someone to talk to. For us that are traveling for a long period, it’s very good to see this so clearly as we do now, because then we can act on it. We want to find places and activities where we can be part of something, and our new-found interest for diving might be one of those. To be able to meet with friends, like we did the other week, is awesome. And our Skype sessions with friends and family members, the messages and e-mails that we send and receive really mean something and are precious to us. And, as a matter of fact, this blog is important. We know you are reading and following our journey, it is an outlet for thoughts, insights, creativity, sharing and questions we have. And every now and then there is a comment or an e-mail from someone who wants to talk about a subject, or who just wants to say hi.

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Great fun cooking with Ploy in Khao Lak

So, to all of you who read this: to all of our friends, to our families: Thank you! You are important, you make a difference and we are grateful for you being part of our lives in one way or another.

With lots of love,

Anders and Wivan

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Morning boat ride in Bali

“You want to rent a sun bed?”

“Hello! Foot massas? Manicure? Buy something? Massas?”

The past few days we have practiced the art of saying no; No thank you, No nothing, No we are not interested, No we’re not buying… No massage. Thank you.
No, we’re not from Germany. And no taxi, thanks!

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Practice to walk in Bali traffic

There are many people who sell services and goods to all the tourists here, and of course we’re meeting many of them as we walk on the streets, the beach or just look into a shop.

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Sun beds at Kuta beach

When we walked to the beach and back both yesterday and today, many cars and scooters have slowed down beside us, and the driver asking if we wanted transportation. The streets are busy and the traffic moves quickly, so it is a bit of a challenge to figure out the tempo and “rules”. Now we’re starting to get a hang of it, and it’s easier to find a gap that’s big enough for us to be able to cross the streets.

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Walking in Kuta

As Anders said yesterday; it’s interesting to get to know this part of Bali by foot. And both of us are certain we don’t want to stay longer here in Kuta than the nights we’ve already booked and pre-paid for; it’s too busy, too many tourists and feels expensive though the prices are much lower than we’re used to from Europe.

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In the middle of hotels, houses and shops

Have we bought anything at all? Yes! We had a “we’re lost-coffee” yesterday, rented sun beds on the beach (but not from all that asked), we’ve had smoothies and fresh coconut in a couple small beach bars, got a Balinese sim-card, a dress for Wivan, and some t-shirts + a new pair of flip-flops for Anders.

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Green juice at cool beach bar

Oh, by the way! We start to get used to this all, we’re doing well and are slowly getting accustomed to the heat. Still no plans for next week, but research in progress.

Lots of sunshine // Anders and Wivan

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Snack: grilled corn cob

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At the beach earlier today