As armas e os barões assinalados,
Que da ocidental praia Lusitana,
Por mares nunca de antes navegados,
Passaram ainda além da Taprobana,
Em perigos e guerras esforçados,
Mais do que prometia a força humana,
E entre gente remota edificaram
Novo Reino, que tanto sublimaram;
Os Lusíadas, I Canto
Os Lusíadas, Luís de Camões Portuguese epic poem starts with a reference to Portugal (the ocidental praia Lusitana) and Sri Lanka (Taprobana, the last piece of the known world, after which the unknown laid).
I had to go. Two years after the trip was offered to me by my older daughter (on my 50th anniversary), pushed by family and drawn by History, we finally went early this month.
It was a a close to perfect (first) trip. We loved the people, the warm, humid breeze, the History and culture and the connections between Sri Lanka and Portugal. We have been at Negombo (at the Amagi lagoon), visited the Millennium Elephant Foundation in Kegalle, stayed at Bentota (just on the beach) – in the southwestern coast, wandered in Galle fort (first erected by Portuguese in early XVI century), ventured to Ratnapura’s sapphire mines, returned to Galle on the way back from the Handunugoda tea plantation in Tittagalla (a must go), visited Colombo busy streets.
We have seen (and rode) elephants, (and touched) precious stones, (and bough) handicraft, (and marvelled on) thousands of kites high in the sky, monkeys, (and walked on) the beaches, (and entered deep) sapphire mines, tasted spicy food and the many teas of the Handunugoda Tea Factory (the Sapphire Oolong our favourite), traveled in well kept roads overcrowded with (shall I say daring?) bus and tuk-tuk drivers.
We will return.