Summer-time ist camping-time! For Opa Oli, an 83-year-old retiree from Saxony, Germany it is the most anticipated period of the year. As a young boy, he used to go camping with his family on the Baltic Sea shore. Ever since camping became a very important activity and Opa Oli's main summer hobby. He now counts more than 70 summers spent on Usedom's prettiest camping spot, in Ukeritz.
As a silent observer, Opa Oli witnessed some of the most gripping periods while camping: the peak and fall of German national socialism, the wild '60 and '70, the restless '80, the '90 turnaround and more recently the revival of the camping culture combined with the DDR- nostalgia. No wonder that Opa Oli has an impressive number of uncommon stories in his repertoire. Listening to them is like taking a journey through time.
Negombo – it's the fourth biggest city of Sri Lanka and still, it feels so small and mundane. Two days in Negombo first seemed unmanageable, but in the end, I came to recognize that city was the perfect spot to get accustomed to the Sri Lankan culture, scents, food and people. After all, its' slow pace and its' rather compressed size facilitated its' in depth discovery.
The Sunday afternoon heat caught me riding my pretty rental bike, on the main road, direction Dutch Canal. I thought that the destination was set, but then I suddently I turned right. There were spice, chicken, fruits and vegetable stands – all so colorful and inviting.
I have seen her from far – even if she was sitting in a rather dark corner of the market. The vivid color of her banana heap stood out. I wanted to buy four bananas
– only four because I couldn't eat more, considering the fact that I was supposed to continue riding my bike in the Sri Lankan heat.
- Four, I pointed the number.
- She noded and pointed eight, zero rupees.
- I handed her 100 rupees and said „Istuti“ - Sri Lankan for thank you. The only word that I've learned. An important one.
- She leaned over to give me the change.
- „It's ok“, I said.
- She smiled modestly and handed me an extra banana.
Encounters like this - where body language, eye contact, smiles and energies replace words – are the ones that encourage me to always look beneath the surface. There are honestly good people out there.