They might not be watermelon hats, but these helmets and our leech socks kept us stylish as we shot the rapids.

After putting in almost a full month of work, it was high time for a holiday. Fortunately, the full moon coincided beautifully with the end of the month and the Labour Day long weekend back home. Instead of preparing our watermelon hats for J.J.’s annual party like we would be doing if in Regina, we decided to get out of Colombo and be one with nature.

However, in order to get out of Colombo on the night before a long weekend with your sanity, you have better be a master of meditation or highly medicated. Since we were neither, the 100km ride out of the city was nothing less than hellish.

Picture it. Shaun gets off work at 5 and we take a three-wheeler to the bus station on the opposite side of the city only to miss the a/c bus. That’s okay we figure as the night is cool and we see a bus labelled semi-luxury pull up. Unfortunately, the only semi-luxurious item in this bus was the tasseled red velour curtains. We did get a seat (thank goodness), but had our bags piled on our laps, knees jammed into the seat in front of us, and I had the pleasure of having someone’s butt hit me in the face every time we hit a bump. All I could think at this point was “I’m so glad it’s cool and rainy outside.”

No sooner does this thought enter my head then we are caught in an absolute grid lock – not moving at all, and neither is the air. My sweating situation has just gone from a light glow to my shirt becoming hypercolour. I look over at Shaun just in time to see a huge bead of sweat drip from his arm onto his neighbour. Ironically we have been in the bus for 2 and a half hours now and are only 10 km from our house. The only thing keeping us from giving up completely is the knowledge that there is a good meal and a cold beer waiting for us at our destination and we’ve already put down a deposit and are too cheap to lose that. (Frugality being the reason we are on the $2 bus ride in the first place).

Through pure will, grit and determination we sat there in the stale, hot air and growing odour. We stuck with it when our bus driver took off the side mirror of the lorry beside as and the driver threatened to kill him. Held fast as the same Sinhalese tune looped on the stereo over and over again. We almost gave up, but then we saw the source of the jam. The police were directing traffic at the intersection! Once we were able to get through this mayhem, it was smooth sailing or at least a bumpy, winding ride with some welcome air flow.

It took 5 and a half hours for us to travel this 100 km, but we were very pleased that we did. The weekend was great fun as we white water rafted, swam, hiked, biked, kayaked, cayoned and picked off the odd leech or 10.