One Greg Anderson, whose biographical info I could find identified him as being “American” and an “author”, apparently is the father of the quote, dear to all those who use and abuse of the word “wanderlust”, “Concentrate on the journey, not the destination”.
On a balmy day of March, some five kilometers north of the small town of Ahangama, I decided to take heed to Mr Anderson’s advice and to concentrate on the journey.
There is a small tea plantation in this side of Sri Lanka that gently declines towards the sea, far away from the more orthodox tea environment of the Hill Country. It is a quaint little affair that offers tours and cakes for free, and is eagerly assaulted by throngs of Buryats, Kazakhs and other Central Asian peoples, looking exotic in their white robes and headscarves against the tropical vegetation. Most visitors, myself included, reach it by means of vans, or tuk-tuks, speeding past a scene of pure tropical idyll. On the way back, I chose not to do the same.
It was a sweaty hour to Ahangama, an excursion that ended with the inevitable sunburnt neck and perspired shirt, but the rewards for following Mr Anderson’s advice were amongst the most precious of my journey in Sri Lanka.
A dirt road unwinds through the gardens. The red earth reminds of Africa and of Dee Dee Bridgewater.
Tombs crop up unexpectedly. An overgrown clearing in the forest holds a handful of sepulchres, forgotten by the locals.
It’s easy to feel like a visiting politician, on the road to Ahangama. Everyone – man, woman, youth, toddler – will wave and say hello to you. Since I was too busy waving back, I’ve always got the moment before or the one after the wave.
I’d always wondered why Asian tourists, on hot days, strolled under open umbrellas. As I felt my neck starting to glow red I suddenly got why.
Lacking a brolly, water buffalos hang all day in mud pools, with a spotless egret for company.
At a roadside workshop, a game awaits whilst punters have taken a break to do some work – namely, turning some fish left to dry.
Reaching the perfect balance between speed, cooling breeze and effort. Nirvana can be found on the road to Ahangama.
Talking about Nirvana…
The only tuk-tuk that didn’t offer us a ride. Probably because they were too busy enjoying the day themselves.
Rice paddies appear and vanish in the bush, on the road to Ahangama.