Negombo Beach, Sri Lanka
My trip through India and the first leg of this journey has come to an end. What a wonderful trip it has been. I met so many amazing people and new friends, especially in the last month. It is amazing to me how lifelong friends can be made in such a short time period, completely randomly, and I can’t imagine not knowing these new people. Perhaps any longer and I would have been too attached to leave. I look forward to seeing them all again one day and I know our friendships have just begun.
When I started this journey I set a goal of only spending $10 a day or less for my expenses and I am happy to say that it was nearly half that at $5.40 a day. I was attempting to show how cheap it can be to travel in India and furthermore throughout the world. Anyone who can save $5.40 a day can also travel the same way that I have, at least in India, for I have attempted to show the path. Furthermore, we were able to donate a total of $1149.90 over the course of the trip or $13.37 per day, which is great in itself. It is impossible to know the exact repercussions of these donations, but it is possible to say that they all went to someone who was in need at the time.
Overview of My Trip Through India
My journey began in one of my favorite cities, Varanasi, where I swam in the Ganges and had a spectacular time at the Kumiko guesthouse, making friends with many wonderful souls.
From there I proceeded to Vrindaven, which was a special place even though it was rough physically and spiritually. I salute Mathura and Mangala for taking care of me during this time.
After this I found my way to the place of the Buddha’s supreme enlightenment at Bodh Gaya where I volunteered at a vipassana course for 14 days. It was hot as hades and challenging, but it was also a very special part of the trip.
Heading out, we went through Raj Gir and then to Kolkata. Kolkata was unexpectedly a highlight of the trip and I enjoyed this week tremendously working with the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity at the Kalighat hospice.
Lastly, I came down to Pondicherry and Auroville after debating going into the monsoon (which never came) without any definite plans and it all worked out ten times better than I could have imagined. It was just a blessed experience all around. It was for sure one of those experiences that I feel that I somehow designed for myself in a separate existence or a past or future life. I have a new-found love for South India and will surely spend more time there in the future.
My last two weeks I spent with a few wonderful people at the Magic House, a den of fellow wanderers working on building a sustainable permaculture village. Shoutouts to the Georgian Brian Newhouse of Permaville fame and Rwandan Mr. Sammy. What a fun time we had in such a short time frame! Below is the Magic House kitchen; the whole place felt like the setting of the movie “The Beach”, an all-time favorite of mine.
Volunteering at Chola Gardens
When I came to Chola Gardens I had no idea what to expect. I was sort of just leaving it in God’s hands to send me to the place that I was supposed to be at. Surely that is what happened and it was a remarkable one month experience. I feel that I made a new family and will always feel connected to these wonderful people. We worked very hard on building them a new home for whatever reason that they choose to use it for in the future. Although it was not completed, a lot of the grunt work of building the foundation has been accomplished.
The stone for the foundation is nearly used up and they will soon have to move forward with the cob and adobe work. However long it takes, these first steps were very crucial to getting the ball rolling and the fire lit. It really began to feel like a sculptural artwork that we all were contributing to, as I hope the pictures will show.
Outside shots of the foundation.
Selvi and her wonderful mother posing at work.
I only spent one day in Madurai and did not get to see too much, but what I saw was worth it. The Meenakshi Temple is a sprawling complex in the center of Madurai and supposedly the largest temple in India. I could not take pictures inside and there were a few inner chambers where I could not go because I was white or not officially Hindu, but it was very mysterious (although once I flashed my Ganesh tattoo and a guy let me through. I thought this was pretty cool).
It really felt like an Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider movie, with some of the most amazing stone carvings I have ever seen. The ceilings were at least 10 meters high being supported by huge carved pillars of the Gods and deities. There was a meditation hall that was gated off, but I snuck in and had a wonderful meditation there, even if the security guards interrupted me half way through, which I had to talk my way out of.
The next morning I took the bus from Madurai to the airport and hopped on a plane to good ole Sri Lanka! The plane ticket cost me 3,100 rupees or around $50 and the corresponding one month visa cost $30. I am in super wandering mode at the moment and am just buying some time until I figure exactly where to go again. I think I know, but am not 100%. The expense account is dipping into the double-digits soon so this is no time to mess around.
I am very much looking forward to Sri Lanka, even if I will not be able to spend as extravagantly as I did in India, which may sound like a joke but it isn’t. There is just enough money in the expense account to buy my plane ticket, visa, and a few days of lodging before I find out my next destination. I plan on finding another volunteer job to conserve what is left in the expense account so the show can go on. This is perhaps the only way for the project to continue to function properly. I believe is what I need at this moment is a place of solitude, away from distractions and potential sidetracks, where I can write but also perform volunteer work. I think I have found the perfect place and will know for sure in the coming days.
While I wait, I seemed to have walked into a bit of a tourist trap in Negombo Beach as can happen when wandering is taking place, but I found a quaint little place for a little over $5 a day and am buying cheap bread and fruit in the marketplace until I can find another job. There is fast free wifi though, which I am not used to, so I plan on putting it to good use while I am here. There are not many people in the resorts, but it is a quite built up area. I wonder if the lack of tourists is because of the season or because of the remnants of the war that ended semi-recently.
The waves were huge yesterday and I was hesitant to go swimming, but I did it anyway. The water was warm and there was a bit of trash floating ashore, but any beach is beautiful to me. I am confident where I am heading next will not be this way, but will be crystal clear water, which is what I am seeking, inside and out.
All in all, I am happy to have absolute freedom again, without having to check up with anyone and can come and go as I please. Once again nobody knows my name and I am a man without a history… just the way I like it.
India was an absolute blast and totally different than my first trip there two years ago, which I expected it would be. Coming to Sri Lanka, I have zero expectations though and am looking forward to all it has to offer. The truck is moving forward and the train is heading to its destination of destinationlessness soon enough. Thanks to you all for sticking with me, following the journey, and supporting me through your reading, commenting, and donating! I surely could not do it without all of you!
The air was cool and crisp as he stepped off the plane. What did this newfound country have to offer? Much like the explorers before, who blazed the path for such a journey to take place, he was unaware of the treasures and hazards that lay ahead. But who cares? Freedom is what is at stake. The freedom to find the truly unexpected.
As he walked out of the airport, past the touts and tuktuks, he could notice the change in the air from India. What was it? The climate? The people? The feeling? Perhaps a little bit of each. Something was different, but exactly what remains to be seen.
With absolutely no idea where to go, he hopped on a bus heading for a place called Negombo Beach. “Beach” is the only word that mattered here and he knew that would offer a place of shelter until the light shined upon the new path to be taken.
Seeing guesthouses or “lodges” as they call them here and restaurants, he decided this was as good a place as any. Without the bus even coming to a complete stop he jumped onto the curbside, without too much trouble.
“Be careful!”, a nearby tuktuk driver shouted. “You are going to break a leg doing that!”, laughing with his friend.
“It’s all good brother! Don’t worry,” responded the man. With little luggage, jumping off moving transit was doable although perhaps not necessary. “Where can I find a cheap place to stay?”, he asked the two men.
“Check down this way, maybe you can find a place for around 1000 rupees a night,” responded the driver. “Ah, but that is a little high. Anywhere cheaper?” said the man. “Perhaps, but you will need some luck!” Smilingly, the man said “Luck? That is about all I have these days!”
And off he went into the wild blue yonder.
List of daily expenses and donations between July 11th and 16th 2015:
1st donation added in two months! $30 from a wonderful friend! $15 into each account.
Total spent on food: $6.67
Total: $441.97 + 22.28 = $464.25 divided by 86 days = $5.40 per day
Donation to random stranger= $.32
Total = $1149.58 + .32 = $1149.90 divided by 86 days = $13.37 per day
Expense account = $207.31 + $15 – 22.28 = $200.03 (Avg. $5.40 per day will last 37 more days)
Donations account = 0 + $15 – .32 = $14.68 (Avg $13.37 per day will last 1 more days)