Toy Story (part II)

POTTUVIL, SRI LANKA – To a lot of people, the image of relief agencies in developing countries is the image of giant Toyota Land Cruisers, churning down a dirt road with the windows rolled up and four grim foreign aid workers staring out the windows. That preconception is instantly shattered by Mercy Corps’ official vehicles […]

Toy Story (part I)

POTTUVIL, SRI LANKA – The Sri Lanka offices of Mercy Corps occupy a single room on Dharmapala Mawatha, in a building run by the Academy for Educational Development. Senior Program Officer Nick MacDonald and two volunteers hammer away at laptops, preparing proposals and responding to local grant proposals; the bookshelf is stacked with project reports, […]

The Buried Village

POTTUVIL, SRI LANKA – Aboard the Blackhawk helicopter, his ears plugged against the roar of the rotors, a US Marine in a flak jacket pencils me a note: DESTINATION = 1 HOUR That’s how long it will take us to reach the shores of Arugam Bay. It would be nine torturous hours by car from […]

Sri Lanka, Revisited

In January of 1984, two months shy of my 30th birthday, I explored the west coast of Sri Lanka on one of my first travel assignments. My girlfriend Teri and I started in Colombo, and traveled by bus to the southern tip of the island at Dondra Head: the last landfall until the frozen beaches […]

Up in the Air

There is no predicting, at this point, what I will find, or even what I’ll write. This whole trip came together so quickly that I’m still in a state of shock, sitting on a Singapore Airlines Mega-Top with a pink tablecloth under my iBook, iced cranberry juice on my right, and a selection of 60 […]