That’s Wild


Last Friday, I went to the funeral for my friend, my father’s mentor and someone who was an important part of my family. All who spoke commented on his passion and living life to the fullest with a great commitment to family, dentistry, tennis and horseback riding. My wish for myself and for you is that you grab the reins of life and GALLOP! Since no one knows how long they have, take every opportunity to hug those you love and strive to make your dreams come true.

In honor of Dr. Harold Ravins, I give you “THAT’S WILD!” from our trip this summer in Sri Lanka:

The first thing that was WILD about Sri Lanka was the people’s friendliness. We were invited by Jude, a tuk tuk driver, to his home to try Hoppers (like crepes).  When we first saw him on the street in Negombo (our second day in Sri Lanka), we spoke our words of Ayubowan (hello) and keva indioppa (eat string hoppers). He could not believe we had not eaten hoppers and invited us to his home. “You get in tuk tuk. No charge. Come to my house. I make hoppers in my store. No Charge.” He could not believe we had not had this treat. We went with him, met his wife and son. They fed us, talked with us about their country and were incredibly hospitable. The banana hoppers were my favorite. They were our age but with 3 children and 24 years of marriage unlike our few months since our December wedding. George kept saying “Semia Rasai” (which means tasty wife: they kept laughing!) They taught us new words like “Ade mama rasai ape keva” (Today I eat tasty hoppers) and “Heta mama nuera yaneva” (Tomorrow I am going to Kandy). The people of Sri Lanka really made us feel welcome.

When we were in Nila Veli, we met friendly families but we also saw the remains of the Civil War and the 2004 tsunami. Walking to the beach through barbed wire was unsettling, even though the soldiers with machine guns were friendly and loved to hear our attempts at speaking Singhala. There are only Singhalese in the Sri Lankan army, no Tamils allowed which means the whole army is Buddhist. Wrap your head around that!

Seeing the ancient cities with the children from the East who were also at  Anuradhapura for the first time and wanting photos with the white people (that would be us!) was incredible. Due to the fighting, it is only now that Sri Lankans are free to travel in their own country. We stayed near Sigiria and were told, “don’t walk around at night, the wild elephants might kill you.” George and I have been to many countries and been told many things, but that was the WILDEST thing I had heard. The elephants took food from a farmer’s garden so a local man killed an elephant. Since the elephants remember, they have come back to the area and killed some humans.

We saw elephants in the street in Kandy dressed up to return a relic to the Temple of the Tooth after Poya. I was amazed to see elephants in red clothes; I had no way of knowing that was only the beginning of elephants in ceremonies. When we were in Kataragama for the Perahera festival, we stayed at the YMBA (just like the song YMCA but this is the Young Man’s Buddhist Association! We were welcome guests but they were shocked when we stayed a second night.)

At the Perahera, the elephants are a critical part of the festival. God is taken by elephants dressed in red clothes to his girlfriend. This enormous pilgrimage festival is sacred to Buddhist, Hindu and Muslims and there are many dancing groups dressed up as peacocks (another sacred animal) and there are hundreds of people bathing in the river and sleeping on site for two weeks. If you go to Sri Lanka, I highly recommend participating in this event.

We think those are some things that are WILD about Sri Lanka! We think it is WILD that we have over 1300 views on our blog. Thanks for reading about our adventures and PLEASE leave us your comments about your thoughts, travels and living life to the fullest!

In loving honor and remembrance of our friend, Dr. Harold Ravins. “THAT’s WILD!”

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

One response to “That’s Wild

  1. Thank you for all your comments by email to me about our blog! Please feel free to post your comments on the blog!

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