Memos from SRI LANKA. 7th Memo: Good Luck in Tangalle. It's not so easy being an expat.

Tangalle - another town, another homestay.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Tangalle Sri Lanka
Goyambokka - one of Tangalle's nicer beaches.

I'm staying at a room in a lovely...yes, one could call it a mansion. My hosts are a couple from....well, he is a native Sri Lankan, she is from Ukraine, they were living together in Austria and he decided to come back to Sri Lanka due to the supposedly increasing xenophobia in Europe.

I say he decided although their wording is, of course, us. But she hates the heat and is all jealous that I'm going back to European winter in a couple of days.
She doesn't like the beach - and is living now in one of Sri Lanka's most popular beach destinations.
She doesn't seem to be happy.
He neither, for that matter.
He hasn't been living here for over twenty years. I assume that he has been back as a visitor, but now he wants to have a business here and seems pretty disenchanted and stressed out after only three months.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Tangalle Sri Lanka
It's easier if you like the beach - when you move to a beach area.

If you aren't mindlessly euphoric in the very beginning, when do you plan to become mindlessly euphoric?!
I really wish them well, but I'm afraid that many hard, stressful, and disenchanting times lie ahead of them.

I also wanted to live in the tropics for a long time. When I first visited Jamaica at the age of 24, the way of life took me by storm. Yes, I admit it, also my first Jamaican boyfriend took me by storm.
But it was mainly the rhythm of reggae, the beach life, the easy-going no problem, mon, irie-i.
My European life seemed so dull and grey and out of rhythm.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Negril Jamaica
It's beautiful, but it's not everything that Jamaica is about.

I travelled back and forth for a couple of years, constantly checking out my chances, got into a mess and dropped my Jamaica-plans for good.

However, after that, I felt a bit disrooted and hooked to the idea of living in a tropical country doing....whatever.
I applied for jobs in tourism - and actually was invited to an interview first in Basel where the headquarter was and eventually in Mombasa where that company owned half a dozen of hotels.
Now, that was a disenchanting experience: All the Europeans working there seemed to hate everything African and were constantly complaining about everything local. The woman that interviewed me literally said that they are employing rather African men since the women are not so clean. All the conversations were on this level.
Wait a minute - I wanted to move to Africa because of...Africa and not to be the bored, frustrated white massa.
This is alluring only in Graham Greene's novels.
This job was not for me - and I was not for them.

Since about six months after my Mombasa-trip, I got pregnant, the nomad lifestyle had to be postponed; until my daughter turned two and we moved for six months to Belize.

Belize is in Central America, but it still has a certain Caribbean feel to it. The language - the Patois or Pidgin English - is pretty similar, they listen to reggae and calypso - and in addition to punta rock, a very rhythmic, staccato-like music by the Garifuna, an indigenous ethnicity that came from Saint Vincent to the shores of Central America.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Placlencia Belize
Nap at noon - we kept up the good old habits from home; only the bed is a bit more tropical.

Anyway, so I was back to the Caribbean vibes - but how different that was with a toddler and responsibility and chores.
While others lived the life that had attracted me so much to Jamaica, I stayed home watching over my daughter. Not so different from Germany; only the weather was better.

By that time I had already buried the dream of the exiting, wild, and free life in a tropical region. With a smile and no regrets at all.
It's nice to dance nights away, enjoying drinks, fooling around, But at least to me, it's not satisfactory on a long term, it cannot be my personal meaning of life. And I also do not want to do....whatever. Not at my age. Not with a child.

Well, the child is 26 now - I could still go. But I'm not interested at all anymore.
A sabbatical - maybe.
But waiting tables just because the sun is shining?
For now, it comes down to a couple of trips every year.

Another reason is also that while I was living for months in Central America - after six months in Belize we also spent many months in Honduras and three months in Costa Rica - I've seen so many expats being pretty unhappy.

They all had started with these really good ideas, some even had money to invest, some struggled a bit. After a couple of months, they always got frustrated. Because things are much more complicated. Because they got screwed over by their what they thought good local friends. Many of them backed away, lived in an expat ghetto, threw themselves on each long term traveller like me - a person that carries a bit of their former life with her.
What's the point of living isolated in a place where I slowly start to hate everything and distrust everybody?

Many of them had a heavy drinking problem - which is unfortunate since many ran bars.

By no means do I say that this has to happen to everyone. It also strongly depends on your expectations and plans. If a twenty-something goes for a couple of month to the Caribbean and works at a bar just for the fun of it - great idea! If a teacher or doctor is sent to work and help in another country - fantastic.

But if you leave your life behind to open a business in a country where you'll always be an alien - and be treated accordingly.....well, I really wish them well.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Tangalle Sri Lanka
There definitely are things to enjoy.

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during former trips, in my Memos from SRI LANKA, I'm posting one chapter from every stop. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant travel information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy my narratives and reflections.

Wanna know what happened before? Here are the former Memos: 

1st Memo: An unexpectedly scenic train ride to Anuradhapura 

2nd Memo: Little house on the P...olonnaruwa

3rd Memo: Rocking it in Sigiriya

4th Memo: My Kandy-d opinion

5th Memo: Out of Nuwara Eliya

6th Memo: Udawalawe - The Elephant in the Roam

If you choose to pin this post, please use this picture:

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Tangalle Sri Lanka


  1. Hi man.nice article and i like the pictures most

    1. Glad to hear that - since I wasn't sure if this retro-style would be appreciated. Thank you!

  2. One of my favourite places! I also love to travel and I've recently switched to a healthier lifestyle and training for a race with SportMe marathon training app, which calculates distance, time, pace and calories. Finding new running routes is always a challenge, such as sneaking in my runs into my destinations. Your blog posts are a true inspiration.

    1. Thank you, Cornelia, glad you like it. Keep on running!

  3. Sometimes people aren't happy anywhere or realize that what they're doing sounded magical, but is actually hard work. I have a friend in China right now searching for roots while telling everyone being rootless is the only way to live. It's tough to push it all aside.

  4. I thoroughly enjoy reading your Sri Lanka travel series. Tangalle is such a beautiful place to explore.

  5. Thanks for sharing the reality, even though it seems bleak and dreary. I hope the couple manages to find a place (whether physical or intangible) where they are both happy.

  6. oh dear, I lived and travelled abroad fro 14 years, and yes there were a lot of unhappy expats, which tried to open a business and they thought , jackpot it will work, gold will come in and my live will only be happy. Reality is on so many corners different though. But I also have seen that, some are just rude and think they are kings and this is just not the way of how to start a business abroad. I hope it will turn out ok for you whatever you do and wherever you travel.

  7. Good read , and well narrated. Its human nature at the end of the day all that matters is personal satisfaction.

  8. I've lived and traveled in multiple different countries and met a lot of unhappy expats along the way. Sure, things aren't always honky dory but one should learn from every experience :)

  9. These beaches are so cleaned. The beaches which I'd traveled in India, were mostly crowded.(

  10. Being an expat can be tough, but you are so right when you say what's the point if you are no longer enjoying it. It's far too easy to get into a rut, but it takes courage to move on.

  11. Do what we do. Move country every one or two years. It’s fun, keeps the adventure spirit alive :)

  12. The beach looks calm and clean. I really like going to the beach and listening to the sound of the waves.


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