On my recent trip to Sri Lanka I had a rather novel experience – the opportunity to try out living in a foreign country with no money. While that may sound like a wonderful experiment, unfortunately this was not something I did on purpose!
The situation arose as the result of two rather unfortunate coincidences. First, the airline managed to lose my bags on a short haul domestic flight across the country. To add insult to injury, my wallet and passport were stolen from my room at my hostel on the first day.
Anyway, luckily I came across a service called OrbitRemit which makes it easy to send money to Sri Lanka from New Zealand, which saved the day. I had already paid for my room in full, so at least I wasn’t living on the street. But I did spend a day relying on the kindness of strangers – as chance would have it, someone in my hostel was more than willing to shout my food for the day, having been through a similar experience himself in Barcelona.
I’ve chalked this up as one of those experiences which is pretty stressful and horrible at the time, but in retrospect turns out to be one of the great adventures of travel. It’s exactly these kind of unexpected situations that force you into new adventures, meeting new people, crossing new horizons.
As for my belongings – well, they never turned up, but I took a moment of Zen and acknowledge there was nothing in that bag I can’t replace, and I take it as a lesson in non-attachment. I chose to take the time to observe my own feelings around the situation, in particular with regards to my own attachment to material possessions and money, to give myself a better understanding of my natural reactions and how I can better react in future to these situations.
All in all it was a bit of an ordeal, but certainly not the end of the world – I found the silver lining and pulled the lessons out of it.