• Tara B. Vasi

The Escape continued… Later that Day. Sri Lanka. December 28th, 2019.

The Uber takes Rosa and I to a beach community an hour and a half south of Balapitiya. The uber driver has a hard time finding our “hotel” but that is because it is a house behind a big green gate and the sign is too small, so it’s easy to miss. “The Green Villa” was the only place I found online that had rooms available for the night in that particular area. Most places were booked because of the holiday. The room cost $11 a night but it was listed at $7.

We get out, open the gate and wearily approach the house to “check in”. The front yard looks like a tuk tuk graveyard. Colorful motor parts lay disassembled and strewn about as if artisticly positioned.

Two children, about ten to twelve years old, appear at the creaking sound of the gate opening and ask if we are from Are they running the show here? 😂 We say yes and ask if their parents are around, but they say no. They speak English pretty well and are really sweet, but transacting with them without an adult around weirds me out.

They show us to the room. I only booked one room because at this point I didnt know Rosa would be leaving Balapitiya with me.

The room is absolutely disgusting. There are holes in the wall, peeling paint, bars on the windows, stained walls, bugs everywhere…

The bug net hanging over the bed was brown from dirt. Maybe cigarette smoke? Maybe human fecal matter? 🤷🏻‍♀️ There were many torn holes in the netting big enough for a fucking bat to fly in if it wanted to… One disgusting jail cell to another. This is what $7 a night looks like.

I don’t feel like complaining in general let along to two children that are probably prisoners themselves.

I’m so mentally and physically exhausted from the whole experience. I dive into the billowing bed and smash my head on the stunted wooden bed frame that is hidden by the pillows. Really? Give me a fucking break, universe. A fucking bah-raaaaayyyykaaah. My eyes well up not from pain, but from defeat.

We leave all of our stuff in the one room and head out to explore the area and look for a cleaner place to stay, maybe one with adults working at it?

We walk down the side street and are surrounded by jungle. There are cute cafes lining the street, juice stands, and little shops selling elephant pants and sarongs. I see a few stray dogs and great them with my high pitched puppy voice and my extended Hiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeee. I try to relax and not think about the morning, but all I can picture is Chamara running towards the uber and trying to open my car door.

I see a hotel across the street that is located right on the water. I walk in, pass reception, and walk to the patio overlooking the ocean. I then walk through the restaurant to the dive center that is attached to the hotel. I see a man and ask if he has any rooms available for the night. He says he has to check. I ask him if he is the owner and he offers yoga to his guests in the morning. He said that he was the owner and that he didnt offer yoga. I said, he should consider it. I am a yoga teacher and I am looking for a work trade. I will teach yoga in exchange for a room. BOOM.

We got to talking and he disclosed that though he loved the idea of offering yoga, what he really needed was a waitress. He offered me a room for free in his hotel if I worked in his restaurant six days a week from 1pm through 7pm. Hmmm....

I thanked him for his time, and moved on to the next hotel proposing the same idea.

Rosa and I walked down the beach searching for a new place to live and I searched for a new work trade.

Rosa wanted to hang at the beach and I needed some space and some food.

I ate a gigantic chicken sandwich with French fries at a little restaurant on the beach. Goodbye ten days of veganism (for the most part). Whatever. It was better then a bottle of vodka, which also sounded pretty good at that point in time.

I went back to the disgusting villa by 3:30pm and was asleep by 4pm. Rosa came in and got her stuff and moved to the room next door, which was the other only room available in this community that wasn’t excruciatingly overpriced. We would have to suck it up and move on the next day.

I slept from 4pm until 5am the next morning.

I knew I’d be fine eventually, but I wasn’t ready to start being fine yet.


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