Three days in, and two hours away, I sent myself off to Kosgama, a small town in the Western Valley, into the meditation center. I went in head bowed as a novice, an initiate, and took on a vow of silence. Poverty. Humility. Abstinence from worldly pleasures, and from killing. This included no slapping- just waving away the mosquitos taking advantage of this vow, and of long periods where succulent meditators sat still. My struggles were at its peak three days into the meditation- not against the silence, the poverty, nor the cohabiting with mosquitos- but rather, in humbly accepting long teachings from a wise old man- a man too talkative in this silent setting, and maybe even a bit enamored with his own voice for my taste. Challenges- this one and others, arose, appeared acutely, then passed. Arose, appeared, then passed along with the suds washed away in my morning scrubbing, the leaves raked out of the garden, or into the air with the unfurling of my fresh wet cotton shawl on the clothes line. The shawl looked oddly short next to my neighbor's eight meters of cotton- her sari- drying in the sun. I traveled on that sequence of arising, passing to many places.
Twelve days in. Conversation on tea country with Sriani, the American-educated semi-retired medical school professor, once our vows of silence had been lifted. Her word of caution to my solo traveling that "Yes, Sri Lanka is safe, but people- men- can be strange if you’re traveling alone. "
The combination of her motherly and professorial ways was convincing, or commanded being reckoned with. I thanked her for her mother energy. Each time I had a marriage proposal from same-aged men in town- mostly shopkeepers in jest- I thought of her blushing face and her waving away my thanks, saying "Nothing!", as she turned away.