ceylon, 10 years after tsunami


On 26 December 2004, the Eastern and Southern coasts of Sri Lanka were hit by a massive tsunami which caused about 40,000 deaths; so, 10 years after that tragic morning, I embarked on a journey that touched mainly the coasts struck by the tsunami and the interior region.

The first thing I noticed, differently from what I was able to see in my first trip in 2009, was that the civil war that had ravaged the country until the early years of the second millennium, was indeed over: no more trenches in the road and, finally, the strong army presence in every corner of the country was just a memory.

From Arugambay, a village where fishermen and surfers live the start of the day in close contact with the sea and still derive from it everything they need, to Colombo, expanding capital city and fertile soil for Chinese investments, passing through Tissamarama, nature reserve that borders the coast, where, on the day of the Tsunami, a group of Japanese lost their lives while observing the ocean during a safari.

Today Sri Lanka is a country full of contradictions and walking across Face Green, the green lung of Colombo, the Muslim quarter Slave Island, or the commercial district you can get lost among the frightened faces of the children at the sight of a tourist, a cricket match between brothers and the meat market.

Just talk to the people to understand the relationship of this land with the natural disaster of 2004: the youth do not have memory; the youngest will proudly show the photos taken at the time of the disaster; the older will simply tell you how accidentally they saved their children, their grandchildren and finally themselves. While the fishermen are celebrating every full moon with still more energy: December 26, 2004 it was a full moon, a national holiday in Sri Lanka, and being at home to rest, they saved themselves from death that surely would have caught them if they had worked.

In a place where time seems to follow different rules from ours, for once, my choice was not to tell a story of colors obviously different from ours, but the history of a country that tries to make "the next big step” , with the awkwardness of a freshman and the ardor of those who, in 2014, do not have a sewage system outside of the wealthier neighborhoods of the capital.