Baby, You Can Drive My Tuk-Tuk: 16 March 2024

Negombo, Sri Lanka

We had to have a difficult conversation and make a hard decision this morning. Over breakfast, Kim told Michael and Kyle that she was feeling even worse than the day before and had come down with a bad sinus infection. Even with the antibiotics from the pharmacy, she was feeling very poorly and was running a fever. Sadly, Kim had to make the decision not to join Michael and Kyle from the launch, but instead to hire a driver to carry her on to a hotel in Nuwara Eliya where she could rest, convalesce, and meet them several days later to finish the second half of the Run.

We are all incredibly disappointed, as we had been so excited to do this adventure as a family. With heavy hearts, Kyle and Michael said goodbye to Kim for a few days and saw her off before heading to the Kumudu Valley Resort for their second morning of test driving. It's just not the same without Mom, and we are really hoping for a victorious finish together.

For now, we are just... Team Boys, but the boys are determined to have a successful launch to make Mom proud.

The morning began with a very brief mechanical and safety briefing that basically boiled down to: don't be stupid, try to fix minor issues yourself but get help from locals when necessary, and watch out for monkeys, dogs, and elephants at all costs.

As we milled about getting ready for the day to start, everyone kept coming up to us and asking where Kim was. She made quite an impression on everyone with her remarkable driving skills and had already made a lot of friends amongst the other teams.

Soon, it was time to hit the road for the second day of test driving. Without their best driver, Team Mama's Boys really needed to become confident driving the tuk-tuk. Instead of practicing in the parking lot, Michael started up the tuk-tuk, Kyle hopped in, and we zipped out onto the open road. It was time to take the metaphorical training wheels off and throw ourselves into real driving practice, whether or not we were ready.

Somehow, Michael was able to drive decently well today. Maybe it's due to having had a good night's sleep or the pressure of knowing that he's going to be responsible for a lot more of the driving for the first few days, but something just sort of clicked, and Michael was able to get around the town without any problems. Tuk-tuks are finicky, the manual transmission is a little sketchy, traffic is crazy, and they drive on the left here... but despite all that, things were going really well.

We set out down the road and headed towards St. Anthony's, a 200-year-old Catholic church located just down the road from Kumudu Valley. We had passed it on our way in and decided to use it as a checkpoint for our first drive out on a real road.

Feeling far more confident after the first successful drive, we decided to go further afield. As we were pulling out of the empty field surrounding the church, we almost bumped into our friends from Team All Play and No Work, who were stalled out in a nearby intersection. They were headed off to spend the afternoon at a nearby beach resort and invited us to join them. We were already heading off to get some local lunch but promised to catch up to them after eating.

We had the tuk-tuks and were given free reign of them until 4pm, so Michael and Kyle set out to find something to eat for lunch, with Michael at the wheel and Kyle navigating from the back seat.

We drove to nearby Negombo Beach to eat at a tiny beachside seafood restaurant.

Michael finally got the chance to order hot butter cuttlefish, one of Sri Lanka's signature seafood dishes that he had been excited about. The cuttlefish was battered and fried in a blend of aromatic spices, and was served with onion, carrot, and green onion. It was super delicious! 

Kyle was a little nervous about trying cuttlefish, but after the first bite, he really enjoyed it too. The cuttlefish was crispy (not rubbery at all) and wasn't too spicy.

Kyle ordered a plate of fried rice. When presented with the option of ordering a "large" or "full" size (the only two options), Kyle ordered "full". He certainly didn't want a large plate just for himself.

It turns out that "full" really means" and is meant to serve a full table! We tried our best to eat as much as we could.

We ordered way, way too much food.

Back on the road, it was Kyle's turn to drive the 11 minutes to the Wattura Resort where our friends were spending the afternoon. It was Kyle's first time on the road, but he did pretty well by sticking to the smaller back roads, and we made it to the resort without too many incidents. It was really good practice to get Kyle out on the road, since now, with just two drivers, he will be responsible for a much larger portion of the driving than we had originally planned.

It was easy to find where the other team was parked. Our tuk-tuks are nothing if not conspicuous.

We ordered some cold king coconuts to drink to cool off, then walked down to the beach to stick our feet in the Indian Ocean.

The water was warm, and the waves were a bit stronger than we had expected. Although Sri Lanka is surrounded by ocean, it's really the south coast which is most famous for its beautiful beaches. However, it was really nice to be in the sea for the first time in a while.

Leaving the resort, we started to head back to Kumudu Valley to turn in our tuk-tuk for the day. We stopped at a filling station to top up our gas to be ready for the first day of our driving adventure tomorrow, then stopped in at a Cargills Supermarket to pick up snacks for the road, which we packed away in our tuk-tuk for the next day.

A successful day of test-driving complete, we parked our tuk-tuk, dropped off our key off with the organizers, and hit up the cash bar for a bottle of ice-cold Lion Lager, before heading down to the nearby lagoon for the Kota Pora Pillow Fighting Championship.

Kota Pora is a traditional Sri Lankan sport where two competitors sit on a log suspended over shallow water and try to knock their opponent off by hitting them with a pillow. The loser is the first one to fall off the log and into the water.

Neither Kyle nor Michael had signed up to participate, but many of the other teams fielded candidates for the bracket-style competition, including Team All Play and No Work. The prize was a bottle of arrack (a traditional Sri Lankan liquor). Of course, we cheered for our friends at Team All Play and No Work in the hopes that if they won they would share a drink with us!

Unfortunately, All Play and No Work was eliminated in the very final round, so Kyle and Michael would be forced to purchase their own arrack for the evening.

The kota pora championship was a blast, and everyone had a great time, whether participating or spectating.

This was followed by the final team briefing, where the organizers went over last-minute tips about driving, safety, and how to get the most out of our experience in Sri Lanka.

All Play and No Work invited Kyle and Michael out to dinner at a nearby restaurant, where we shared a massive order of curry and rice, a Sri Lankan meal consisting of a mountain of white rice topped with an expansive selection of curry dishes.

We had a really great time talking and hanging out throughout the evening, and it's so nice to have found a good group of friends on the Run - even if we will be taking different routes across the country over the next several days.

It was so easy to get an Uber in Colombo, but it's much harder to find an available driver outside of the city. Rico, the manager of the restaurant, called his dad to help get us home. Rico's dad (wearing the red polo in the picture below) has a van, and dropped the girls off at Kumudu Valley before driving Kyle and Michael all the way back to Negombo Town.

We have been so impressed and amazed with the generosity and kindness of everyone that we've met so far, and our first impressions of Sri Lanka have been absolutely wonderful.

Tonight ended up being a late night, and tomorrow is going to be an early morning. We are feeling excited and more than a little nervous about our first day driving across the country. Wish us luck for our launch day tomorrow!

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