I’d had enough. In an era where connections are omnipresent through followers, matches and likes, I had never felt more disconnected. My ‘over-time’, as I called it, marketing job in LA had diluted my self awareness, and I was having a difficult time discerning where my digital self ended and where my real self began. Exhausted from social media, bored with its saturated content and frustrated with the pressure to maintain it for each of the brands I was working on, (I know – quite the quintessential millennial problem), led me to an anxious breaking point.
So I ran away to Sri Lanka. It seemed like the furthest place I could run, by both distance and degree of familiarity. (And there was a sale on flights – now I understand that this is code for ‘off season’). I didn’t know what I was looking for, if anything. I didn’t want anyone to find me. I only wanted to find myself.
Culling through reviews and travel platforms, I opted for Tri Resort – the first fully environmentally sustainable hotel on the banks of Koggala Lake. The resort promised a guest experience centered around wellness and nature, including a culinary focus on delicious local fare prepared with ingredients right from their garden.
There are only eight villa suites and three rooms at Tri. The villas resemble a modern treehouse, flooded with natural light from floor to ceiling windows. Villas with private plunge pools provide panoramic views of the jungle canopy and lake. From afar, the villas appear completely camouflaged, their roofs adorned with living gardens, vines and edible plants that blend right into the jungle’s dense greenery. From an aerial view, the eight villas create Fibonacci’s golden spiral. At its center, a water tower constructed from local cinnamon tree bark with three additional cozy cabin rooms.
On my first morning, I woke up to the sunlight gently warming my eyelids through the windows, which were covered in condensation from the humidity outside. The only audible sound was from the birds, chirping away and anxious for breakfast. It was rare to hear such a stillness. It was as if the back of my brain, the part that is always quietly humming away – probably overheating at this point – had finally been unplugged.
Tri offers Quantum yoga classes in the morning on the shala, (a special type of yoga developed by Tri’s co-founder, Lara Baumann). Upstairs from the shala, a light-drenched glass library is stocked with a curated selection of books. I, however, stayed in my room and watched the sunrise over the lake from my bed.
As the sun grew warmer and the air thickened into a Sri Lankan afternoon, I ventured out of my room to take Tri’s boat to the local “Cinnamon Island”, which is not a fictional place from the game Candyland. Cinnamon Island is home to a family of incredibly hospitable cinnamon harvesters who have been producing the staple cinnamon crop for centuries. I stayed for hours chatting, sipping cinnamon tea, eating fresh mangos, and learning about all of the plants in their garden. Eventually it was time to head back and seek recluse in the shade at the resort. I bought 4 bags of freshly ground cinnamon to bring home, and prayed that they wouldn’t be seized by TSA.
Back on the mainland, I climbed the narrow spiral staircase of the water tower in the center of the resort to a enjoy a cocktail above the canopy with breathtaking views of the Koggala. It was an unexplainable sunset with impressionable silence that reminded me of my impermanence. And this was only day one.
Oddly, I have no pictures of the sunset. Actually, I have very few pictures of Tri at all. I left feeling quite disappointed in my sameness, although much more relaxed, I guess. It’s only now, thrown back into the chaos of my digital life, that I understand the gift that Tri had given me.
I am sitting here at my desk, at home in LA, writing this. A cup of homemade Sri Lankan cinnamon tea is still too hot to drink, so I’m letting it cool to my left. In my head, I’m replaying my conversations with the cinnamon harvesters on Cinnamon Island. I can feel the warmth of the Sri Lankan sun, even as it sets. I can’t help but smile back as I think of Tri’s manager, Immesha and her infectious grin. It’s only now that I finally understand the connections that were missing in my life – the ones offline.