Oh man... another travel story!
I was typing this while sitting at the Chennai Airport at 5:05am waiting on my flight to Hyderabad, India. I was there with a cup of joe in hand so all was good. Now for the backstory.
I’ve been playing with different places to fly out if India and hadn’t booked a return flight to Indianapolis yet. Yes, I'm coming home for 2 weeks the end of April as Syd graduates from IU!! Pretty excited to see my girls, family and tribe...!! But I digress....
I had made it through all of the security lines in Colombo,Sri Lanka and the Spice Jet attendant was grilling me a bit about my Visa. I had it this time!
A driver had picked me up at 8:30pm from southern Sri Lanka, and we spent the next 3.5 hours doing what I will dub, “the final Sri Lankan drive.” Some of the finer points about Sri Lankan driving must include noting the bus system. I use that term loosely.... the red busses are government owned and the blue are privately owned. Both run the same routes, but the blue busses literally drive like bats out if hell!! The drivers must be paid commission because they come to a rolling stop and the guy collecting money shoo people out the door and pulls people up to get them in quicker! What’s more interesting to watch (if you have the courage) is looking out the windshield! The blue busses attempt to be the first bus to each stop, I’m assuming, in order to get to the passengers that are waiting.
My average bus pass was 20 rupees or about 15 cents.
The blue busses pass every tuk tuk, motorcycle, bike, car, truck and as many red busses as they can. Oh, and curves and hills don’t matter as they are normally the biggest thing on the road and that seems to matter. And every time they pass, the horn is honked. Most times both before they pass and once after, and it sounds crazy, but it’s not an obnoxious honk, but a friendly little toot. Well, that’s true most times. I’ve been with a driver or two that have been horn heavy - lol! I always find it fascinating to watch these aggressive bus drivers slow down just a bit and swerve around a dog, cow, slow moving pedestrian or the occasional cat! ALL of the other vehicles will demure the road to these busses as it seems like they spend the majority of the time in the wrong lane...
My driver to the airport was the son of the last guest house family at which I stayed. He asked if I liked the local music and explained the lyrics of a sweet love song. He talked about how hard it was to gain any real financial independence by merely holding a job. He is married with a 3 year old son, has an IT degree and is going back to school to get a masters in tourism. He and his family are planning on taking out another bank loan so they can increase the number of rooms they have as they want to be able to offer all levels of accommodations to their customers - from a high end private room to a hostel type room that would house 8. I paid $10 a night for a private room off season... He took me on a 4 hour drive (one way) all the way to the Colombo Airport for 8,000 rupees - about $46. He said his family was very poor when he was growing up, and that the increase in tourism has increased their standard of living....
Back to sitting at the Chennai airport... 5 hours earlier the Spice Jet employee told me I had to have a plane, train or bus ticket in hand to get out of India before he would issue a boarding pass for me to get into India. My mouth dropped open. My goof yet again.... I kinda’ knew that was a requirement, but I’ve never been asked for proof... so, I stepped aside and had to make a decision. Literally earlier that morning I had received an invitation to go live on a volcano in Hawaii from a friend of a friend. I was pretty intrigued and had looked at a couple of flights but now it was decision making time! If I was going to go to Hawaii now was the time as I would be flying over it soon to make that graduation ceremony.
So yup, I bought that ticket to Hawaii standing at the ticket counter. I’m still not sure if the price shown was in Sri Lankan or Indian rupees - lol!
Saying yes to the flow and smiling over here.