I need you to be the judge here. Or at least a collective jury. And I’ll promise to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.
You see, when researching where we might stay and visit in Sri Lanka, I came across an eco lodge in Dagana – deep into the wilderness, just East of Kandy. I read on and researched as deep as I could Google and – the more I read – the more I felt a couple of nights of living in the jungle (as eco as is quite frankly possible) might just be a huge amount of fun. AND a sort of challenge, to take us outside of our comfort zone (which is only too ridiculously cushy) while giving us a different, even inspiring perspective on life.
This was always my motive. (nothing more sinister, I promise).
So last Friday (after a quick samosa for lunch), our driver handed us over to the eco team at the bottom of a dirt track and, as he waved us goodbye for almost 48 hours, we were jeeped-up a very steep mountain deep, deep into the thick undergrowth.
The husband immediately looked concerned. ‘What have you booked?’ he mouthed to me in the back of the jeep.
Then we arrived and a chorus of animals, birds and all the creepy crawlies that have never been identified greeted us into the lodge. We were shown to our remote cabin (all built from resources the team has immediately available to them) and – since unpacking was never going to be an option – we just lay down on our (rather damp – this is almost rainforest after all) beds to take stock of the situation.
And because I had always thought that this might make an interesting blog post (again, full disclosure), I sat back and watched how my gang responded to our living conditions – basic accommodation, a constantly invaded bathroom by slugs, snails and the like, the constant threat (and therefore immediate removal) of leeches galore as well as full on noisy elements and those all too dominating multi-legged neighbours.
The Boy – I must admit – immediately got the picture. ‘This is an adventure and it’s fun” he instructed the other two. ‘Yes, it’s a challenge but every time you are scared or uncomfortable, you just have to recognise those are simply scary emotions and so you have to turn them into something funny.”
He didn’t even freak out when the Husband found a leech in his small boy armpit sucking the living daylights. He just told me to get it OFF.
The Girl would be the first to admit she’s found it hard. The first evening she brought her dinner straight back up. I think the combination of fear and spices were mostly to blame. At 545am as the thunder and lightening hit our tin roof, she did wonder if maybe we might cancel our second night and ‘leave this **** hole’ as soon as it was light. But the next morning we were trekking (with a guide) through stunning woodland and meeting local villagers on our way to the waterfall deep in the jungle. (oh and – for the record – I didn’t scream when I saw the snake.)
The Husband has asked me not to go into detail about how he’s felt and so I’ll respect that. He did add though that he was super impressed to see how economically self-sufficient life was at the eco lodge. The team, and their surrounding area, grow almost everything they need to live – coffee, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, almond, avocados, coconut, bananas, cacao, rice, tea, spices and so much more – with obviously all the timber you could ever need. The food is good and meal times are really sociable… which was just the reassurance we needed (except I didn’t really enjoy hearing that my new friend had found a rat in her bathroom in the middle of the night). The lodge and its activities are extremely well organised; there is no doubt in all of our minds that they are passionate about creating something extremely special there.
The bonus of living without wifi (it is available in the central eating/relaxing area but strongly discouraged) was something I personally had been craving. As a freelancer, I’ve been working a little each day of this trip and this gave me full permission to down tools and be totally present. Besides, cool Lion beer and a rolling card game is all you need to spend an evening (or 2) in the Great Outdoors.
Whether or not you feel I’m guilty of cruelty to those who might not like jungles… I’m sure I’ll be forgiven for subjecting my gang to most of the above. Besides we did all agree that we have laughed more during the last 24 hours than we’ve laughed EVER BEFORE and there’s something incredibly bonding about all finding a situation belly-achingly hilarious. Even after 2 nights of very little sleep.
For more information about Polwaththa Eco Lodges – click here.