Words: Ed Templeton
It’s been almost 5 months now since the devastating Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka which saw locations across Colombo and in Batticaloa targeted by terrorists.
Sofie, Kit and I were all back in the UK when the attacks took place, and with so many of our friends, neighbours and team out in Sri Lanka and dealing with the very immediate physical aftermath, we’ve felt pretty helpless being so far away. (I wrote in another blog post about the hours spent at my computer researching what the hell was going on, on the phone to our local and international lawyers and advisors, constantly refreshing the Foreign Office travel advisory page…!)
As lots of you know, in the end we made the decision to stay open at Soul & Surf Sri Lanka to support our team and the community and I’m really pleased to say we haven’t regretted that decision for a moment. We count ourselves very lucky to have such loyalty within our team, and many equally loyal guests, who have continued to support us and our business, and although the hotel’s been quieter than usual, we’re keepin’ on keepin’ on…
It was only a few weeks ago, though, that our little family returned to Sri Lanka ourselves – and that’s actually what I wanted to share here. Because regardless of the hours spent attempting to decipher the situation, from the other side of the world the reality is there’s no amount of news reports you can read that make up for actually being there, on the ground.
It was difficult to know what to expect: how different would it feel? Would we be met with hordes of military or extra security at the airport? How safe would it feel driving the 3 hours down from Colombo to the south of the island, where we’re based?
The reality? We barely noticed the difference.
Sure, it’s quieter on the island. I’ve seen beaches all but empty, waves the least crowded they’ve been in years (not complaining about that one actually!). But when it comes to everyday life in Sri Lanka – and crucially how safe we felt bringing a 5-year-old out with us – truly, it’s business as usual. As we arrived in the village we were greeted with the same warm welcome, the same huge smiles we’ve become accustomed to.
It was a short but sweet visit this time, but for Sofie and me, we’ve returned safe in the knowledge that Sri Lanka is picking itself up and brushing itself off. And that we can comfortably and happily reassure our guests what we’ve suspected all along: little has changed. Awful, unspeakable things happen, and yet life goes on. We would never undermine the tragedy that has happened, or suggest that it’s not understandable to be wary as a result. But Sri Lanka remains a beautiful, welcoming and safe place to visit.
For the three of us, school term times mean we’ll be splitting our time a bit more equally between the UK, Europe and the tropics this year. But while I contemplate socks and wooly jumpers for the first time in a while, I’m already impatiently waiting to get back to the island: a place which feels like home in so many ways.
We really hope to see some of you out there over the coming months.
Finally, as ever, a reminder that for anyone that has any questions about visiting Sri Lanka – be it regarding safety, or anything else – please just give us a shout and we’ll do our best to help: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ed, Sofie & Kit xBack to Journal