My boyfriend, Aruna, and I were halfway through our two month stay in Sri Lanka when he came down with a vicious stomach bacteria and fever. We left the beaches of the south coast and returned to Colombo, the hot-sticky capitol city, to rest at his uncle's air-conditioned house.
Up until then, Aruna, who is fluent in colloquial Sinhalese, had done all the talking, and I had never left our house or hotel room without him. However, having traveled alone for weeks at a time in places like Turkey and Croatia, I felt I couldn't know a place until I had ventured out into it on my own.
And after two days of drinking Ceylon tea and reading novels while Aruna recovered, I became stir crazy in our cool, cement-floored home.
I set out, deciding to forgo tuk tuks, (which double the fare for a Sudhi, or white lady) and learn Colombo's public transit system. My destination: an internet cafe. After the 20 minute walk to the train station, my sundress was thoroughly drenched in sweat. I hung out the train door overlooking the Indian Ocean's crashing surf and, when I got off, realized I was completely lost, just as a tropical storm broke. A smartly dressed young woman told me in perfect English how to take a bus, that you must leap on and off it when it pauses in the frenzied, furious traffic. Somehow, I made it.
My whole journey ended up taking a good four hours, and costing only 17 rupees (15 cents). In a way, it was my most pedestrian day in Sri Lanka, but also my most gratifying.