Many people have asked where we got the idea for this project, and although I wish I had a witty one liner there have been several reasons that influenced my decision.
I didn’t want to create just another travel personal blog, today’s equivalent of the classic slideshow. Although we will be doing this (you can find it here), I wanted us to find ourselves in places and speaking with people we probably wouldn’t meet when travelling around solely for the typical tourist activities. For me, the greatest memories from travels are always the stories and perspectives you gain from interactions with other tourists and locals alike.
Secondly, I have developed a theory that many of the issues of modern American culture (obesity, health crisis, depression, etc.) can be traced back to the post WWII breakdown in our family bonds and communities. I’m not referring to our changing opinions in religion; I am talking about the mass consumerism, lost value of human interaction, and media driven fear of your neighbor mentality that grew out of the eating TV dinners in suburbia.
The loss of family meal time and art of cooking healthy-wholesome food (well at least not chemical- filled or processed) coupled with not feeling comfortable about sharing your dinner table with strangers or even your neighbors has led us down an unhealthy path for our bodies and minds. Thankfully, we have seen a renewed interest in this in America these past 10 years. I want to use our travel opportunity to explore this theory in other countries (before and after the progression of the “western diet” has taken over).
The final piece fell in place last year when I got the opportunity to spend two weeks exploring Sri Lanka. Throughout the trip I had been studying every point and headland along the coastline using Google maps. I had heard from a very good friend who was originally from Sri Lanka that there were several great surfing waves around the Arugam Bay region.
Midway through the trip, we were staying at a safari resort near the south entrance to Yala National Park in search of the rare leopard. I had noticed there was a point that looked like it would have a good wave nearby that was accessible from the road to Yala. We had a free morning the next day so I left the resort very early driving the rental jeep along several miles of dirt road.
As I approached the point I noticed we were entering a small village with dozens of wooden huts and fishing boats pulled up on the beach. Upon my arrival I was greeted with many friendly stares, I got the feeling not many tourists had ventured down to this part of island before. After determining the point was better suited for a natural harbor than a surfing wave and helping a local fisherman beach his boat, the chief of the village graciously asked me to sit down and eat breakfast with him. This being a Sri Lankan fishing village, of course the menu included Pol Sambol (think coconut salsa) and fresh fish fried up in a small pan as we shared a cup of local tea.
Through broken English, we discussed fishing and how the sand changed around the beach throughout the seasons (I was still trying to determine if you could ever surf there). He offered me a boat ride to look for waves at some of the other points in the park only accessible by sea, but I had to get back to join my friends as we were departing that day.
Although not solely unique, I have had several similar experiences while exploring the remote beaches of Central America, I am always impressed with the hospitality and genuine welcoming attitude I have received during my travels.
The experience of preparing and sitting down to a meal with total strangers or great friends to share stories is such uniquely human experience. As our departure date closes in, I’m looking forward to exploring the food and stories of communities around the world.