Week 1 Sri Lanka: November 24th-December 1st. What really happened. PART 2.
The first week when Vera and I were there, we were the only two guest in the villa. The staff didnt make us feel welcome. They didnt make eye contact as we walked by, let alone smile.
I noticed right away that the pace of Sri Lanka was FAST and everything was rushed. It was definitely not the laid back island vibe I was expecting.
Chamara rarely told us what we were doing for the day, what time we were leaving, or where we were going, so we were often confused as to what the fuck was going on. He would bang on our doors at random times and say we were leaving in ten minutes and we would have to get ready to go. When we asked questions in the car, he just wouldn’t respond. One time after the sea turtle project, he asked me if I had any feedback, and I said, I felt very rushed through the orientation and why didnt you let us ask questions or take pictures? He said, I didnt rush you, I just hurried you along. And if he stopped to let the Chinese girl take pictures, we would be there an hour waiting for her to be done.
He drove aggressively and recklessly. He had two iPhones and texted on one and talked on the other, while weaving in and out of traffic.
He would brag about how everyone in town knows him and respects him. He’d tell us how many people have taken advantage of him in the past and how jealous people were of how much money he was making. He’d tell stories of how he donated to kindergartens and was going to buy 300 notebooks for the children.
He told us the he got into a car accident with volunteers the year before. A volunteer broke her arm and sued Chamara. He said that the accident impacted his business very much. He claims he was fully paying attention and it was the other drivers fault. I imagine he was speeding, texting, and driving.
He had A LOT of camera’s all over the villa and he locked the gate of the villa every night at 10pm. He said he never had a break in before. I felt like the locks were more to keep us in, then to keep other people out.
He had a sometimes aggressive Rotweiller caged up on the side of the house. Castro. He told me that the dog has bitten many people. He rarely let the dog out of the cage. I asked him why he had such an aggressive dog at his hotel and why he kept him caged up all day and he said its because it’s his guard dog.
He had a fountain with fish in his reception area. He had some koi fish, but he also had alligator fish, some that were over a meter long. These fish are illegal in Sri Lanka because they can jump out of the water and bite people. I stood and looked down at the pool and even then one tried to jump out of the water causing me to jump backwards. I asked him why he would have such dangerous fish at a hotel and he said because no one else had them and he thought they were cool.
When we would bath the dogs, he would hit them and more than necessary, forcibly hold them down in the shower to bath them.
He was meanest to his sweet dog Mogus, and maybe that’s why I loved him so much.
Chamara slapped him with an open palm so much that the dog cringed every time he lifted his hand even slightly. That was Chamara’s way of disciplining him, though Mogus didnt do anything wrong. I was completely appalled by how he interacted with the dogs, yelling and hitting. Isn’t this guy supposed to be giving the dogs a better life? They would probably lead less violent lives on the streets.
In the weeks to come, he would often raise his hand in the air to ME, threateningly as he does with the dogs, as if to say, be quiet or I will hit you. I told him, repeatedly not to treat me like a dog.
When Vera was there, the WIFI and the AC were “broken” but I later found out that he disconnected the internet and took our AC remotes because he didnt want to pay for us to use them.
We found a puppy and Chamara let me keep him. Peanut. He knew how much I loved dogs and wanted to help save them. I repeatedly asked Chamara to take him to the vet, but he wouldnt.
When Vera wanted rest, Chamara and I would meet in his office and discuss the season. I would map out the seasons booking on the white board across from the desk.
I posted some photos to his social media page and wrote some captions on his behalf. I talked with a few yoga teachers on the phone, to get them excited for the season. I was assuming the role of his assistant, the social media coordinator, and the yoga teacher manager. Some days we would work well together, and I had hope for a successful season, other days we would disagree and he would stop talking to me all together.
There were days when I didnt want to leave my room. I told him I was sick. I felt unwelcome and uncomfortable.
Vera had similar complaints about Chamara and his lack of communication. He was incredibly rude to her and I think it was mainly because she was Chinese and he made it clear that he has no patience for Chinese people. I encouraged her to write him an email once she left sharing her feedback.
Vera left after her week long program was complete. So, now it was just me and the staff at the villa.
I was not having a good time so far in Sri Lanka. I felt caged, controlled, confused, and completely displaced. I was worried about what I was supposed to do for the next week by myself, let alone for the entire season. Come to find out, Chamara was concerned about the week I was alone too and that is why he let me have the puppy.
I have been told so many times in my life that I over react, or that I am too emotional, or take things too personal, so I struggle sometimes with trusting my own responses to situations.
Were my feelings legitimate healthy responses to fucked up situations or was my perception skewed and I was overreacting ? Who is to say whether my feeling are legitimate or not anyway?
Chamara and I had a talk. He asked me if I was happy. I said no. I cried to him.
I didnt want to seem ungrateful for the work trade opportunity or for the puppy or for him to get mad me thus making things even more dysfunctional between us.
I explained to him that I am still adjusting to life in Sri Lanka. That I feel really uncomfortable with him and this foreign land. I said I am sure once I get to know him better and get used to my surroundings, everything will be fine. He laughed and said, Oh, so you’re crazy. There was no point in trying to defend myself. He then tried to comfort me and said, Just be happy for all that you have. It seemed like he thought I was over reacting and being ungrateful.
In that week, I saw so many red flags waving in my face and I questioned whether this was the right place for me. the doubt killed me. I wanted so badly for this to be my next big thing, to teach yoga and rescue dogs. That was my dream, so, I tried to look past the signs, take responsibility for my role in the situation, and focus on how to make things right, so this could all work out.
Which is exactly what a victim of abuse would do.
It was all too familiar to my previous relationship, and it was if I fell right into the same confusing role of trying to make a man happy, but with a different man, and one I wasn’t even actually in a relationship with.
In the weeks to come, things just kept getting worse.