A Travellerspoint blog

The tea boy…

rain 90 °F

The culture of Sri Lanka is to have tea twice a day. Some have coffee instead of tea in the morning but the tea boy keeps tabs on how the whole office prefers their tea or coffee. First tea break is in the morning approximately 9 am. The challenging aspect of the tea break is you have about five minutes and thirty nine seconds to finish your tea or coffee before the tea boy comes back for your tea cup and saucer. The Sri Lankan’s actually use a saucer every time with their tea cup. I believe the last time I used a saucer was when I was around the age of eight having a tea party. I never finish my tea before the tea boy comes back and he just laughs at me. Personally I like my tea warm, not flaming hot, it burns my tongue and then I can not taste anything the rest of the day. I really confuse the tea boy when I bring a tea pot of green tea into the office. I make sure to always take his tea as well. The second tea break is around 3 pm. Once again the tea boy is waiting for me to finish, what pressure for a simple little tea break. Although today we had three tea breaks. When I looked at the tea boy funny and said I already had my tea today he said, “Black tea it is raining.” I smiled, bobbled my head, and drank the tea.


Niyas The Tea Boy and his work space!

Posted by JenGarbely 05:07 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged events Comments (1)

Pottuvil Market

A true farmers market...


Pottuvil Market is a true farmers market, you get what is fresh and in season. The market has a dirt floor and a bunch of stands with the local farmers goods. Usually the farmers have a specialty and your trip to the market means dealing with multiple people if you got a large list. You have the fruit guys, the veggie guys, the beef guys, the chicken guys, and of course the fish guys. The lime guy is pretty sweet, he gets a bag of ten limes ready for me as soon as he sees me coming (20 rupees for 10 limes and throws in an extra one). As I am walking through the market taking pictures, this one beef guy would not allow me to take a picture. I was told he was not proud of being a beef guy, but who really knows. So I found a different beef guy who was the uncle of my driver (everybody is related somehow here). Then you have the farmers that setup shop on the edge of the road by laying a tarp down. Afterwords, I found out this is an illegal place to setup shop and when I took a picture of the guy he starting yelling at me. Just another day in Sri Lanka.

The Fish Market Area - Currently it is the off season for the fishermen the winds are too strong, so we can't get lobster and the prawns are on the smaller side.

A proud fisherman.

You never know what kind of fish you will find at the market.

The chili and spice guy.

The Potato Guy.

The beef guy.

The Veggie Guy.

The market alley.

The guy that was yelling at me for taking his picture.

The chicken guy and we buy our eggs from him too.

Posted by JenGarbely 02:59 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged events Comments (0)

Mmmm...Fresh Bread

Actual Pottuvil Bakery...

93 °F

One of the many delights of Sri Lanka is the fresh bread. Occasionally they burn the top of the bread, but if you get to the bakery right after the bread comes out of the oven you get to pick which loafs you would like. This event occurs every night at about seven. If you want something like a hamburger bun you need to wait until 8. A loaf of bread is 35 rupees which is about 30 cents. The oven looks like a massive pizza oven so Dan is considering making a real American style pepperoni pizza and seeing if they would cook it for us. I believe the health inspectors do not come by very often so it shouldn't be an issue.
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Posted by JenGarbely 02:24 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged food Comments (0)

Cultural Exchange

Independence Day in Sri Lanka

sunny 89 °F
View The Garbely Adventure on dgarbely's travel map.

Jen and I decided that since we had been spending so much time soaking up the Sri Lankan culture over the last few months, that it was only fair to share some American Culture with our Sri Lankan staff. What we found, however, is that it is relatively difficult to come up with an "American Cultural Experience" that people aren't somewhat familiar with, given the ubiquitousness of American TV, food, etc. Nevertheless, we thought that since both Americans and Sri Lankans had tossed the British out of their countries, there was no better cultural event to share than Independence Day! And there is no better way to celebrate Independence Day than having a good old fashioned BBQ!

The first step in any good BBQ is getting the meat together, which in Pottuvil, Sri Lanka, is easier said than done. Since we live in a Muslim community, beef is rather easy to come by but it is not particularly tender, nor does it come in neatly wrapped packages. The only way to get meat is to find the person who slaughtered a cow that morning and literally go buy a 'chunk o' meat'. No tri-tips or rib eye steaks here. So, we decided that instead of steak we would settle for hamburgers. Unfortunately, the only way to get ground beef is the grind it yourself. Ugh.


Luckily, being the boss means that I can quickly rally the staff to get to work to help us with all of the party planning (something that I have some familiarity with). So the morning of the 4th, I sent out all of our drivers to gather the requisite party materials while I busted out the meat grinder and went to work on the 6 kg (~13lbs) of beef. I hadn't finished by the time they all got back, but I was plenty happy to turn over the arm workout and get started on the rest of the meal. I cooked up a tasty tri-bean chili, Jen made some potato salad, and the drivers put together a beautiful fruit salad. Add several cases of beer and a bottle of rum and we were set. I rewarded all of the drivers who helped cook with shots of my Patron Tequila - to which they all took an immediate liking too. Go figure. Jen got rewarded by Razak, our driver, with a new Sri Lankan outfit that his wife had made. It was a little strange at first to see her wearing Sri Lankan clothes on the 4th of July, but it was also oddly appropriate.

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As we were just finishing up the food, the rest of the staff came by and we started up a game of volleyball. Usually, we can't get them to play anything but cricket, but since it was a special day I think they humored me. Actually, we all had a great time - even though Jen and my team ended up losing after being ahead the entire game. Grrr.


After volleyball, we got the grill going and cooked up all of the burgers just as it was getting dark. Everyone helped themselves to the food, but I think we got some mixed reviews. Everyone seem to like the burgers and the fruit salad, but were a little iffy about the potato salad and especially the chili. I was a little surprised about the chili since it was the most like "curry" that they eat here - but what to do? Instead Jen and I ended up eating chili for almost a week.

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Finally we finished up the evening with some more drinking and playing with fireworks (Safety First!). One of our drivers refused to light the fireworks on the ground and instead would light them in his hand and throw them in the air. Meanwhile, I kept trying to figure out whether this was going to be considered a workplace injury or not. After a few errant bottle rockets, he was voted out of fireworks duty by the entire party.

In the end, I think everyone had a good time and we all learned a little bit about each others culture and found a few similarities between them. Getting drunk and blowing stuff up seems to be a universal cultural activity (at least for men), chili is NOT the same as curry, and everybody loves hamburgers (even when you have to grind it yourself). My next challenge is figuring out how to explain what Labor Day means to America and why it is that we pretty much do the same thing as we do for Independence Day. Or maybe I'll just buy an extra case of beer and several bottles of tequila and forget all the technicalities....

Posted by dgarbely 13:33 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged events Comments (1)

Ants in My Pants

Five months down!


I have now been in Sri Lanka for five months! It is weird to think it has been only five months but in other ways it seems like we have been here for a long time. I've been dealing with the hot and humid weather, but am thankful that we have AC or I think I would have melted by now. It is quite pleasant to be able to step out of your cabana and walk 50 meters to work and then be able to return to the cabana at any time. This is most convenient for lunch and bathroom times. Being the only female in the office, the bathroom is not quite up to par and is missing a toilet seat. I am still white even though I live on the beach or as Dan would say “cracker ass white…oh I mean snowflake white.” My work outfit consists of pants, boots, button up shirt, hard hat and a beautifully bright orange vest. Orange is sooo not the new pink!


Lately, I have been on this peanut butter kick and can not figure out if it is due to being out of the States or what, but damn peanut butter is good! As a kid, I did not particularly love PB&J’s, but here in Sri Lanka with some fresh baked bread they are delicious. Maybe it is the fact I can whip out a PB&J sando in like two minutes. For a while, I was having PB&J’s almost every day for lunch, but then Dan started complaining and I ran out of “Christine’s homemade Jam.” But I recently found Reese’s peanut butter cups in Colombo, so I stocked up on our last visit. Dan does not do peanut butter and chocolate so they are all for me. :)

The cockroach killer has been on standby after the last battle. The cockroach stepped over the line when it crawled onto the bed and across my tummy in the middle of the night. There was a complete lack of sleep that night, but I built up an extreme desire to kill the next morning. Dan and I tore the bedroom apart to find the sucker, but instead found three large cockroaches living under our bed. After Dan captured them and I drowned them in the toilet, we sprayed the whole bed with Anti Cockroach stuff, and placed traps throughout the cabana. You would have thought the battle was over, but after remaking the bed we found another one in the mosquito net. He also fell victim to my intense wrath! The cockroach killer has found two more since the big battle but they were both belly up. We have perhaps won the WAR!

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After five months I am still having a little trouble with the ants. Yes I really do mean ants! They get into everything and in no time at all. Really, it is unbelievable how fast ants can travel. I finish my PB&J and only leave a smudge of jam or peanut butter on the plate and leave it on the coffee table while I finish watching the news. The next time I look down at the plate it will be swarming with ants. When trying to wash dishes I usually find a few trying to climb up my arm. That just gives me the itches...damn I am starting to itch just writing about it. Nine out ten times if you think you feel something crawling on you, most likely you actually do have ants in your pants!

Posted by JenGarbely 12:12 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged events Comments (1)


So My Birthday…..

sunny 0 °F

Now I know what it means to be straight out spoiled on your birthday...this year I got the luxury treatment. My husband rocks in so many ways, but one of the best reasons is he gave me a birthday weekend instead of just a day.

We went to Colombo for a monthly meeting but timed it so we could spend the weekend shopping, playing golf, and enjoying a bath almost every day. As we are now Diamond members at the Hilton, we also got to enjoy all of the executive floor perks, including breakfast in the morning, free happy hour drinks and snacks, shoe shine, fresh fruit daily and the list goes on.

On my actual birthday we took a holiday from work, slept in, started the day with a little something something, ate breakfast, and then headed to the day spa where Dan had arranged for the “Bonds of Love” package. We started off with a soak in a hot tub with real jets, which is always a nice way to loosen up and take a load off (damn I so miss my hot tub). Next we headed to the outdoor pool with fresh flowers floating on the surface. We got all excited because it was so romantic and it was all to ourselves. But reality soon set in when we got in and the pool was freezing cold. They brought us out a little snack and sparkling wine (non-alcoholic - boo) which was pretty refreshing, even in the cold tub. I don’t get why they don't serve it in the hot tub where you are not shivering. I guess not everyone shares our bubbly in the bubbly philosophy. Next we headed to the massage tables where we shared a room together, both looking forward to the next part of our treatment. They gave me little granny panties (that look like a diaper) to wear and of course Dan is laughing at me. We first get a sandalwood body scrub that has a nice, soft smell to go along with the coarse scrubbing. I personally was having a little trouble because as she worked on one leg the other one started twitching, but nevertheless my skin felt so soft afterward. After rinsing off the scrub, our hour and half massage was next (my favorite part). Then just when you think you’re done, Dan has arranged even more. I got a pedicure in a fabulous Sri Lankan chair while Dan got a facial (which I don't think he enjoyed as much).

Dan wasn't finished yet however, so he took me off to my favorite store in Sri Lanka: Sena Gems. I needed to pick up a ring that was getting repaired, a garnet pendent that I had custom made, and my birthday present from Dan. See pictures below. It is a choker necklace with amethyst and topaz stones in a silver setting, all connected with a bunch of pearls. All I can say is it beautiful and I felt like a queen, hoping I didn’t get robbed on my way to dinner. Plus the necklace is really three in one! You can wear it all together, or just wear the choker, or just put the middle pendent on a chain. And being the queen I am, the set wouldn't be complete unless I had the matching earrings as well.

When we finally got back to the Hilton, there was a full size chocolate cake waiting for me in our room and when we went upstairs for happy hour, we were greeted by the waiters with champagne. They had found out it was my birthday so the executive floor staff had made sure to order a cake so I could celebrate right! They were so sweet.

Finally we went to dinner at a great restaurant with our friends Larry and Ceni and had some food that rivaled any of the good restaurants in Portland. All in all, I had an incredible birthday and felt so lucky to have such a great husband. That and a place nearby to buy beautiful jewelry for cheap! What else could a girl ask for?

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Posted by JenGarbely 09:59 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged events Comments (0)

Monkey Love

It is all part of nature!


Look at this cute Monkey...


Picture posing for us.


Looking all innocent.


Then there is the saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words," or in this case only two...


"Monkey Love"

Posted by JenGarbely 11:08 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged animal Comments (0)

A Dream!

How dreams come alive...

sunny 0 °F

We all have dreams, but how often do we allow them to become true and real. What spark does it take to light the match to take the first step down the path to achieving our dream. This story is about Dan.

For the pass six years, oh my goodness we been together for six years another reality check, Dan has said he wanted to learn how to play the guitar. After every concert, "damn I should learn how to play the guitar." If you know Dan, he likes his concerts and we have been to our fair share of concerts in the last six years. I love seeing him playing his air guitar right along with the band.

Two years ago I considered buying Dan a guitar for Christmas, but do you know how many guitars are out there and the price range? For one thing I had no clue what kind of guitar he wanted as we had never gone shopping or looking for one. I ended up finding something else for him for Christmas that was a little more up my alley and completely forgot about the guitar dream until...

Driving from Colombo to Arugam Bay for like the gazillionth time, we stopped for petrol and Dan says "we have to go back...I want to check out the music shop a kilometer up the road." So we head to the music shop which has some guitars and lots of drums. Dan picks out a guitar in about ten minutes and buys it on the spot for $65 with a soft case. After talking about guitars for six years (probably longer), he takes the first step to his dream in Sri Lanka of all places.

The guitar makes it home and Dan finds guitar lessons online. I honestly think he can find anything he needs online. He quickly realizes he needs a tuner, which we find in Colombo on our next trip. Dan has the gift of picking up things quickly and learned some basic chords easily. After watching Antonio Banderas (damn he's hot) playing his mariachi guitar in Desperado, he is inspired to learn the theme song. Dan can play parts of the song but not nearly as fast as Antonio Banderas. To his credit has only been playing for a month and should start with an easier song. Jingle Bells is coming along quite nicely though so he'll be prepared for Christmas in Bali.

Dan and His Guitar

The Guitar Shop

Posted by JenGarbely 20:44 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged events Comments (0)

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