Our epic, 7-hour train journey from Kandy to Bandarawela took us high into the mountains. I was now in tea. RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF IT. As we pulled in, green mountains dominated the view, and a sign on the outskirts of town welcomed us to “The Cool Climes of Bandarawela” (I, for one, continued to sweat). We checked into the Orient Hotel, and I discovered my room overlooked a golden-domed mosque.
Our last few days in Kandy were a flurry of pineapples and processions. One evening, a local family – Kolitha, Deepthi, Chamodi, and Dilumi – hosted me for a cooking lesson and dinner. Their home sat next to a flooded rice paddie, and their two shy, beautiful daughters welcomed me by placing a green betel leaf in my palm, a symbol of friendship and respect.