52. Does my bum look big on this?

Today we did what you do in Sri Lanka.   We went to an elephant orphanage, we rode on the back of one through the jungle and down a river bed, and we dodged the men hawking t shirts with an elephant’s bum on the front.   Does someone actually buy  these  tshirt? I guess they must.

I have a lot of time for an elephant. They’re so exceptionally big and they seem so, I don’t know,  so zen.

Still haven’t ridden a horse, but I’ve clamped my strong Southern thighs quite firmly onto the back on more than one elephant, a couple of camels, a donkey… oh god, I’d better stop there.

Giddy up cowboy.

49. Lesson on patience.

Today we mostly learned about patience; a good buddhist learning this one.

We had spent the evening at Nuwara Eliya at a larged rumpled dusty hotel that smelled of wood polish and disinfectant called St Andrews. We are in the heart of tea plantation country and the evidence of British settlement is everywhere. It’s odd, I feel  slightly resentful for the Sri Lankan people which is wrong as they seem pretty thrilled with all the tudor shit.

I wanted the boy to have an Asian train experience and the one from Nanu Oya to Ella is famous for the beauty and variety of landscape so that was the plan for the day.

The first thing he learned was that the trains run to their own programme and it doesn’t have much to do with the timetable. So the 1230 departure became 230 became 345. So there we were, on a train station platform in the bush waiting for a train.

These are the moments you go look where the fuck I am with my kid for gods sake! Then you go, jesus do we have enough food for him to not go into a low if this thing never comes??  Memories of Indian trains from twenty years ago don’t fill me with confidence.

The second thing he learned (that’s not entirely true, I think he was born knowing this) is that there is always someone new to play with if you approach it right. For Cody, a cute pair of Chinese lovebirds. For me, a handsome Israeli student. He’s going to come and visit us in New Zealand apparently.

Time passed.

48. Mr Cody and Bill.

I’ve been a woman who has travelled alone for many years. I’ve learned to enlist concierges on check in to make sure I get good service. (Funny how so many hotels think women are capable of doing so many more things for themselves than men can). I’ve learned to deflect “Where your husband?” with a smile. I’ve politely declined many opportunities to “no be lonely tonight, I can come”.

This is not a complaint I must add. In the main I have enjoyed being a sister doing it for myself. And there are many adventures I would not have had if I had only ever travelled with a partner. Many of them should also be written down, in a different kind of blog.

But this trip has created a whole new exchange and oh my god we have laughed, Cody and I.

Even in 2012, a mother travelling with her son isn’t common. Being a primarily Buddhist  country, the Sri Lankan people we have met have been very kind and warm to my boy and I. ‘Very handsome boy, very beautiful mother. (Pause) Same noses” . Yes, I think.  Thank god he’s a boy.

After the pleasantries, however, there is one other reoccurring theme. And it began on check in at our first hotel.   “Welcome Mr. Cody” our domo announced grandly, as he gave him an envelope with that very name on it.

Everywhere we have stayed, the booking has converted to Cody’s name. I’ve stopped actually saying mine; it’s easier.

Yesterday, five days into our adventure, our Sri Lankan guide Pradeep  suddenly says “So your name is Cody, yes”   “Yes” says the boy. “That’s me”.

“And you” his gaze goes to me “you must be Bill”.

Laugh? Nearly died.

47. It’s the humans he loves the most.

We had an amazing day today, my boy and I. We really are doing some proper travelling, albeit a lot better funded than the ten dollars a day variety I cut my teeth on with his dad all those years ago. It’s dusty, it’s dirty, it’s as hot as hell, and  we’re spending many hours on the road dodging highly decorated trucks and tuk tuks, tooting our car’s horn regularly to affirm our collective desire to survive.

This morning we climbed to the summit of Sigiria, a six hundred foot high rock fortress. One thousand two hundred and two steps to the top, in 32 degree heat at 9am: that’s how to make a redhead’s face turn the colour of her hair.

Along the way Cody bartered for his first Sri Lankan treasure, a wooden book with three secret compartments.  At the same time we spotted the biggest hornets nest in a nearby tree, we saw a sign urging us to keep the noise to a minimum so as not to disturb them. We saw the snakes being charmed by a man with a flute and I got to be draped by a python which I loved. (Cody declined the opportunity).

We looked at master carvers at work, finding elephants within massive blocks of wood;  we learned about Ayevedic herbs and their miracle powers; we were both slathered in sesame oil and massaged within an inch of our lives, then encased in steam baths with just our heads in the light.  We came home tired and dirty and happy to Villa Rosa, a beautiful small hotel high in the Kandy hills.

At dinner, I asked Cody which part of our incredible day he loved the most.

It was our guide Pradeep’s enthusiastic reaction to Cody sharing his hand sanitizer with him.

He loves it all, my boy. But it’s the humans he loves the most.

45. Kia Ora Casa Colombo

I would have so much more money in the bank if I didn’t love hotels so much.   And I think this one I love the most.  But I have said that before.  I am that girl.

After an hour by taxi, hurtling through a sleeping city, we arrived at Casa Colombo, Sri Lanka around 3am. The boy was sleeping most of the way too.  I didn’t miss a moment though. I revelled in the chaos on the roads, the heat, the smells, the fact that I didn’t have a fucking clue where we were and it didn’t really matter.  Odd how frightened I am of planes and how gungho I am on a foreign highway full of kamikaze drivers with a man that doesn’t speak English taking me god only knows where.

That said, after the said hour I was happy to see the lane to the right of the mad dirty old highway. It seemed so full of promise and mystery.  Black and gold metal gates swung open and there she was welcoming only me, the glorious glowing 200-year-old mansion.  Once it was home to one of the wealthiest Indian trading families in the island. Now it is home to me and my boy, for a couple of nights at least.

Our room is splendid, really something special. We have a three metre copper bath to the left of the king-size sleeping platform. I had to have an immediate power soak on check in to celebrate, be damned that it was 3:30 in the morning. An ornately pressed ceiling floats loftily above intricate Indian tiled floors some eight metres below. Our own lounging area, sound system, desk with laptop (who has that, I mean really), glass walled bathroom (roller blinds for the modest) are all tied together by a skilled designer’s eye. Some of it shouldn’t really work and in a self-conscious boutique hotel in Darlinghurst it so wouldn’t. But here it does, and I can visualize myself taking a year off and writing the big story at the desk as I gaze out the colonial windows to the mango tree…

I think I’m in love. But don’t worry; I’ll get over it. Again.

43. Numbers. Not a game.

We finally got an 8.2. Cody has been riding in the high teens since we were in the departure lounge and the novo doesn’t seem to have been working.  This is scary; it makes you feel powerless.  Drugs = Effect right?

Not always, we have learned.

It is like the light has come back on in my boy and we have had our first fabulous funny adventurous day.  Cody even charmed himself into a free Segway ride off someone who I suspect would normally charge for the Malaysian oxygen we were breathing, if he could.  He is so fabulous when his blood sugars let him be pure Cody.

HIgh blood sugars are awful on every level. They steal optimism and humour and energy for any kind of adventure. And there is a level of stress that sits in both of our bellies. Damn I wish worry made me thin.

We were set to go to the Night markets and China Town for dinner last night, but at 23.2 his blood was boiling and we were going nowhere and Cody was Angry. Capital A.  At one point he left the hotel room and went for a ‘walk’.  Now that’s scary for a mamma. Turns out he rode the elevators for half an hour. I saw him in a gutter for a lot of that time.

We’re catching a plane to Colombo at 11pm tonight. We arrive at 315am. Fingers crossed the growing boy’s body plays ball.