We thought the best approach would be driving through the villages far outside the main cities.
Earlier this week we walked through a village to the entrance of the Knuckles mountain region, where my husband and I, accompanied by our driver and a park ranger, were greeted by several denizens.
We found a robust grandmother and young girl slicing plants along the roadside who said they would cook the leaves and use the mulch for the rice paddies.
Turns out the park ranger is the grandmother’s son.
He explained to our driver Lakmal—whose English is impeccable—that he prefers working in his rice fields to ranger duties.
We continued our walk and each time we came across a villager, warm greetings were exchanged.
Lakmal explained each villager we encountered asked, and answered, three questions:
Where are you coming from?
Where are you going to?
What will you do there?
Lakmal translated for us—no one seemed to speak English in this region.
I thought about my American Indian ancestors. How did they greet strangers on their journeys?
Did they ask the same questions as the Sri Lankan villagers?
Where are you coming from? Where are you going to? What will you do there?
Author’s photo of Sri Lankan villagers