Packed with some presents and a little extra for the piggy bank, we took the bus to Mihintale, hoping to find the family. To our excitement Nandena was a well-known man in town. The first tuktuk-driver we encountered was self assured that he knew Nandena and could take us to his home. With eyes full of disbelieve we looked at each other. Could it really be this easy?
After a short drive we stopped at a house next to a small dirt road. And yes, there he was: Nandena (we recognized him from the picture). Although he was expecting a visit from Belgium, he seemed touched by our sudden appearance. He warmly welcomed us in his house. As Samoshi was at school, we would meet her later that day.
Reason why Nandena is so well-known? Well, he is still a guide in Mihintale. Together we explored the town and its surroundings. Due to his archaeological studies and the fact that he reads a lot, he is a well-informed man. He took us to some beautiful places and provided us with the necessary explanation about the 2500 year old history of the ruins. As a nice ending to the day he made us walk up a 1840 step staircase. It was worth the effort. After a great sunset up the hill we started our way back down and also our way back to his house.
When arriving there, the whole family welcomed us. This being the 5 kids and his wife. We didn't remember all the names, but they all started with an S. And then we finally got to meet Samoshi. She was a bit shy, but cheerful. When unpacking present number 1 she was a bit nervous and Nandena had to help. But present 2 and 3 almost unwrapped their selves. The smile on her face got bigger and bigger. When we got invited inside we got served a huge dish. It looked like a feast for the whole street and the small eaters we are, we couldn't finish it all. After a family picture including us, it got time to head back to Anuradhapura to finish this beautiful day in our bed.
With this mission we had the opportunity to get in contact with the local people. We were very glad we got this opportunity and that we grabbed it. This is one of those experiences we will never forget.