Yala National Park

When we stepped into the safari jeep one afternoon just outside of Yala National Park, I thought to myself, “If an elephant tramples over us, well…it was bound to happen someday.” Immediately after, I thought, “what an odd thing for a little Ohio native to think to herself.”  Though, I suppose I have expected being trampled by something ever since I was a little shrimp dodging through the upperclassmen crowding the halls back in high school.
It’s quite strange how normal the most bizarre of things can feel after awhile.  I don’t bat an eye anymore at the nearly empty hotel bathrooms with easter toilets or the geckos climbing on the walls.  By the time we did see that elephant (and see that it was in no way in the mood to trample anything,) it almost seemed normal.  I expected it.  Before arriving in Sri Lanka, I might have imagined a safari as an incredibly exotic experience out in the middle of nowhere.  While it may be all of those things, by the time I get there I’ve had enough immersion into the area that I understand it differently than I might have had I popped in for a quick safari between this and that appointment back in Ohio.  Yes Yala National Park is quite “in the middle of nowhere,” but it’s really just a half-hour drive from town via all-terrain vehicle.  Yes the “town” is void of traffic-lights, malls, or 7-11’s like I might expect elsewhere, but it has an internet cafe, a corner store, and plenty of people.   Any oddity can be summed up in my head as “well..that’s just Asia.”
I felt the same way crammed between people in the hot constraints of a crowded public bus.  Never before have I stood in the doorway of a moving bus, waiting for the crowds to clear enough for me to fully enter.  Never in Ohio at least.  Not even in Chicago or New York City.  But here in Sri Lanka, it is just part of the daily life of the people and therefore, when I’m brave enough, it’s part of my day too.

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One thought on “Yala National Park

  1. Sara King says:

    One of my favorite authors, Michael Ondaatje, was born in Sri Lanka – he wrote The English Patient and much more. His memoir, Running the Family, would be wild for you to read now, what with your scenes of Sri Lanka as backdrop. Great stories you have, too – keep writing! And all the best to you both. We miss you!

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