My heart goes out to the people of Sri Lanka

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A family enjoys a stroll at Colombo’s Galle Face Green

Easter Sunday. I wake up to the shocking news of the attacks in Sri Lanka. At last count, at least 207 people killed and 450 injured*. Just a week ago, we arrived home from 23 wonderful days in Sri Lanka.  There’s a post in my WordPress drafts that I had intended to publish today: My favourite moments in Sri Lanka—all sparkling beaches, pretty hikes and playful monkeys. In the aftermath of the appalling attacks it just doesn’t feel right. Instead, I’m starting my Sri Lanka series with a photo collage in gratitude for the daily joy we experienced thanks to the Sri Lankan people. Everywhere we travelled in the country, from the southern beaches to the northern tip of Jaffna, we were met with kindness, openness and smiles. My thoughts are with the victims, their families and all the people of Sri Lanka. May your resilience and positive spirits help you weather this tragedy.

* Sadly, as of April 23, the death toll is over 300 and at least another 500 injured.

Categories: Sri Lanka | Tags: , , , | 41 Comments

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41 thoughts on “My heart goes out to the people of Sri Lanka

  1. Beautiful portraits of your meetings with Sri Lankans, Caroline. Such a nice homage to those who aren’t able to escape from the terror. But, I hope too you’ll show us those scenic hikes and idyllic beaches you experienced when you are ready to share them. Those stories shouldn’t stop either.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Having also been to Sri Lanka (end of last year) I can totally relate to your post. The people were so warm and friendly, and I can only hope that the tourism industry recovers from this quickly and that the lovely people there do not suffer because of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Caroline, thank you for sharing these many happy moments in Sri Lanka. I have no words to express the immense shock and helplessness and despair I felt in those first few days after the Easter bombings – for it to have happened so soon after your visit must have felt like a punch in the gut. I have many fond memories of the two weeks I spent in Sri Lanka with Bama back in 2015, and I’ve been meaning to go back to Colombo ever since.

    Here in Indonesia we’ve experienced suicide bombings at hotels and churches in the past, so people feel the pain very acutely. And it’s had a knock-on effect at work too – we were just about to run a gorgeous feature story on Colombo in the next issue of our magazine. It had been beautifully shot, the words were poetic and lyrical, and everything was more or less laid out. And if I recall correctly, there was even a mention of the Shangri-La as a recommended place to stay. Unfortunately, given the circumstances, the decision was made to can it last week – so the story is never going to see the light of day. Maybe after things calm down, I will go there myself and write a dispatch from Colombo to help the tourism industry there recover. One can still hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey James! It’s interesting and heartbreaking to read your comments about the scrapped feature story in your magazine. Whether to can a story/postpone it/rework it….these are difficult and delicate decisions for a publication. Even in my little blogging world, I struggle with what to share right now with respect to my Sri Lanka travels. When I wrote this post it certainly didn’t feel right to wax poetic about long beach walks and lovely hikes. Now, after a few weeks I’m inclined to dust off my earlier draft and share (with some revisions) the wonderful moments Mike and I had in Sri Lanka, with hope that peace and stability will return. As you know, it is such a beautiful country, and like other places in the world 99.9% of the people are kind and peace-loving. I’m bursting to write about it. Such a shame that this will put a huge dent in Sri Lanka’s important tourism industry. I hope you and your publication will be able to write about Sri Lanka as a travel destination in the not too distant future.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I too am still reeling from the news as we lived here aboard our sailing home for a few months last year and still have friends in residence here. The hopes that emerged after the civil war have been dashed by the madness of a few and the infighting of others. And now so many in the world are using it to support their political agendas. Will we never learn?

    It probably feels even more surreal for you that you were visiting there so recently. You’ve captured the true spirit of the place with your images.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lisa. I ask myself the same question: Will we never learn? It’s difficult for me to understand how these heinous acts can happen. It does feel surreal and unsettling…to think we had dinner just a few weeks ago in one of the hotels that was bombed. I’ve been trying to focus on the very positive experience we had in Sri Lanka and plan to write about these happy memories soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been to Sri Lanka twice and it has now become one of my favorite countries. I remember the first time I went in 2012, not long after the end of the civil war, military presence was palpable in many places, especially in Colombo. However, they seemed to be more curious of foreign visitors since for decades their country was practically off the radar of most tourists. The Fort area of Colombo was still heavily guarded, though, and taking photos of building in that part of the city was prohibited. Things changed when I came back in 2015. Colombo felt more cosmopolitan, the once restricted Fort was now open for public, and the signs reminding people not to take any photo of the premises were gone. I sensed optimism. Until recently Sri Lanka has been regularly featured in many travel publications across the globe, and tourist number keeps growing. The tragedy that happened recently will certainly have an impact on the country’s tourism industry, which I believe why it’s even more important that we, bloggers, tell the world how Sri Lanka really is, because we can’t really expect the media to show how the country actually looks like.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure it must have been really interesting to see the changes in Colombo over those three years. Now, in 2019 there looks to be a real boom in Colombo with new buildings going up everywhere. While it’s still a chaotic city from our North American perspective we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of its infrastructure and how relatively clean it was. Many times during our trip we commented about how Sri Lanka must have made great strides in the relatively short period since the civil war. The locals we spoke to were certainly proud of their tourism industry and that Lonely Planet named Sri Lanka the top destination for 2019. Indeed the tragedy will have a major impact on their much needed tourism. I will certainly do my part to tell the world about this beautiful country with lots of posts to come.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So unfortunate what happened in Sri Lanka. So many lives lost and so many injured. So many people wanted to have a good time and this had to happen, and it come after it challenging history and the civil war that went on for a while. What a heartfelt tribute to the country and its people, and from the looks of it you had a great time there. Like Lexie, I follow Peta and Ben, and through their blog I’ve learnt so many in Sri Lanka are just ordinary folk who want to live simple lives and be greatful for what they have. I am sure those you met were touched by you and your kindness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mabel! Thank you for your comments. Terrorist acts are horrible no matter where they strike but I can’t help feel particularly sad about Sri Lanka, where as you say, the people have faced so many challenges and were just starting on their path to recovery.
      I too have learned so much from Peta and Ben’s blog and it was such a joy getting to know them in person at their beautiful home in Sri Lanka. I’ll be sharing more posts from our happy days in Sri Lanka in the coming weeks. I hope peace and stability are soon restored.

      Like

      • There’s always a brighter future to look forward to after incidents like these, and all of us will come out stronger. I look forward to that post where you tell us about meeting Peta and Ben 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a lovely tribute – thanks for sharing. Over the last few years with school shootings, Brexit, Trump, kids in cages on the southern border, etc, I’ve had a hard time blogging since my photos of beaches and vacations don’t seem to matter. But this post is a reminder that the people of Sri Lanka are wonderful and almost all of them are kind, peaceful people, just like everywhere else in the world.

    I worry what this attack will do to the tourism numbers. The country is just starting to recover from the civil war and tourism can bring in lots of cash and jobs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jeff. As this tragic news continues to unfold I keep thinking of the kind, peaceful, innocent people I met and viewed through the camera lens. Places like Galle Face Green come particularly to mind, which as you know, is a wonderful gathering place for people of all religions and ethnicities.

      The loss of life and injury is horrible, and I too worry about the tourist/economic fallout that will further hurt the good people of Sri Lanka.

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  8. Caroline, this is such a heartfelt post and your photos are simply beautiful. Most of all I love how your photos reflect Muslim, Buddhist and HIndu religions in Sri Lanka so well. The one of all the little girls lined up at the beach makes me teary eyed as I read this from the safety of Ben’s moms house in Los Angeles.

    We are so shocked and saddened by this absolutely senseless violence and loss of lives. It seems that nowhere in the world is safe anymore. I must say that I am relieved that it was ISIS in that these attacks could have occurred anywhere in the world. With the civil war only recently over tensions are easily brought to the surface and can easily impact and divert peace. I read the interesting post by Rambling Rose. Thank you for the link…

    On a brighter note we so enjoyed meeting you both in Sri Lanka and having time to get to know you Thank you for this sensitive and thoughtful post. Hoping for happier times…

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Peta! I’m so glad you and Ben are with family in California. This is a heartbreaking story and I know its impact on you guys, with your beautiful home in Sri Lanka and the local relationships you have fostered, must be particularly devastating. Having just been in Sri Lanka, and spending such a wonderful couple of days with you, this hits hard for Mike and me. So often during our time there we commented about what an exceptional tourist experience Sri Lanka offers and how good it was to see the country recovering after the long civil war. It makes me sad and angry that this senseless violence will wreak havoc on tourism and the economy, and negatively impact yet more innocent people’s lives.
      Those little girls holding hands make me teary eyed too. Yes, hoping for better times…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you Caroline for this ray of sunshine that reminds us that evil is in the minority. What happened in my land on Sunday has left us all reeling with shock. Less than 12 hours previously we had uncannily been taken back to discussing the ware and how thankful we were it was all over. and then ….shattering news. Still trying to digest that it is for real.
    I posted my initial thoughts … no feelings then excepted relief (even though I am a Catholic) that it was not Tamil/Sinhalese conflict As news unfolds, losing that sense of relief as this one is far more insidious with international tentacles.
    Am happy you reached home safely. 35 visitors to our fair isle did not return home. May they and all the departed find rest with their Maker.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Rambling Rose for your comments and providing your thoughts on this senseless situation here and on your blog post: https://wonderingrose.wordpress.com/2019/04/21/easter-sunday-carnage-in-sri-lanka/. Even though I’ve visited Sri Lanka and now understand a little bit more about your country’s history, I cannot begin to imagine how especially troubling this must be for you and your countrymen.
      In Canada, the Sri Lankan crisis continues to get much media attention. I am heartened by several large prayer vigils for the victims taking place in Vancouver and Toronto (and probably other Canadian cities) that focus on unity and forgiveness.
      It’s a sad time for Sri Lanka and the world. My deepest condolences to you, your family and your country.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wonderful photos Caroline. So nice to see happy Sri Lanka. May this be soon restored!
    Alison

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Mike Hohmann

    Thanks for the post, Caroline. Gad you and Mike are home, safe and in good health. I’ll leave it at that, sometimes no comment is best!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for sharing the smiles on these dark days, Caroline!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I was rocked by that news upon awakening this weekend as well, and I’ve never even been there. (I do follow Peta and Ben, who’ve been living there – not sure if you do, but through them, I feel like I “know” Sri Lanka a little bit.) I’m sure your trip was fantastic, and I also know the feeling of not wanting to rhapsodize about a vacation on the heels of a tragedy. I’m sure I speak for all of your readers in saying thanks for the sensitivity, and we look forward to your fun posts when it feels right to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words Lexie. These acts of terror are always horrible and hit especially hard when you have a connection with the place. It is such a shock and disconnect for me based on the Sri Lanka I experienced.
      On a happier note, one of our big highlights, which I talk about in my yet to be published post, was meeting Peta and Ben. We spent a couple of days with them and had an absolute blast—such great people, and their home and neighbourhood are even more beautiful than what you see on their blog. I believe they are currently in the States; thank goodness!

      Like

  14. Brian Foster

    What a fitting tribute to the warmth and spirit of the people. It swells from your photos. Another tragedy for a nation and its people that have already suffered too much. How can here be such a putridity of spirit in those who commit such acts? The world can only hope that this malevolence festers upon itself and dies while the internal light of the innocent people brightens up the darkness that exists there right now. Thanks for sharing their light.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much Brian. As the death toll continues to rise I am deeply saddened for a country that seemed to be turning a corner after so many years of war and turmoil. I agree with you, it is unfathomable how so much hate can exist. I’m glad I was able to share at least a bit of light with the smiles of innocent people going about their everyday business.

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  15. Caroline, good to learn that you returned home safely.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. A pity the attacks

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This is a human tragedy regardless of one’s Religion and/ or Beliefs. To think that there are people who due to political/ religious motives delight in causing mayhem to their fellow human beings…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: My heart goes out to the people of Sri Lanka — Writes of Passage – WeatherEye

  19. Thank you!

    Like

  20. Monika MacNeill

    Oh Caroline, what a heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing your fantastic photos of the Sri Lankan people that you crossed paths with while visiting so very recently. I was thinking of you this morning and wondered how you were affected by the terrible news. From your photos, it looks like you and Mike met some wonderful people!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Monika. It is shocking and I’m at a loss to understand how stuff like this happens. There is often more than meets the eye when you’re a tourist, and in talking to people we learned that there are still significant ethnic/religious tensions, but I never would have expected something of this magnitude. It is such a disconnect when I think about the warm, gentle people we met.

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  21. Lovely photos of beautiful people.

    Liked by 1 person

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