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Published: August 6th 2007
I've always been a restless person. My heritage determines it. By birth I am half-Sicilian, half German, and to complicate matters, my mother was born in the Czech Republic on the Polish border. All of these wonderfully different, opposing energies mingle inside me and occasionally create conflict!
When I was 20, I left my native Germany for England, where I've now lived for the past fifteen years. I always travelled a lot, but primarily in Europe and the USA (i.e. The West). My first visit to a non-Western country was early this year, to Sri Lanka. And that visit set me off. I came back from Sri Lanka and sat on my sofa for about two weeks with an atlas, looking at all the places I wanted to visit. And soon after, the decision to embark on this coming journey was born.
It was quite funny how it all happened. Before I left for Sri Lanka - to visit an ayurvedic centre -, I had only a vague idea about the country. I knew it was on the Indian sub-continent somewhere, but that was about it. Once I started researching (read: after I booked the trip) mild panic started to set in: would there be big spiders? (there were - huge ones! Next to my bed!), would the Tamil Tigers blow up buses while I was there (they did - two), would I catch ominous illnesses (I did - but I got well again, and the trip to the Sri Lankan doctor was quite something!)? So, in short, all of the things I was afraid of before I left came to pass (talk about self-fulfilling prophecy), but you know what? I was okay despite of them. I just learned to trust, on this trip more than at any other time, that I'll be okay - and that I can be at the wrong place at the wrong time anywhere.
And then there were all of the wondrous things I encountered: exquisitely kind people, magnificent landscapes, delicious food, wild adventures. My favourite memory is a trip to meet a snake doctor in my friend Wasantha's tuk tuk somewhere in the jungle. This snake doctor kept all manners of snakes (cobras, boa constrictors, you name it) in his house in order to create antidotes for their poison. He proudly announced that he personally had been bitten 36 times as he draped various snakes around my neck (good job I love them) and insisted, despite my recovering arachnophobic apprehension, that I had to meet his pet tarantula. This tarantula was a huge silver-black creature, and to my surprise, very beautiful.
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