One of my favorite parts of the trip was a two-day trek through the tea plantations in central Sri Lanka. The country is famous for tea (they export 97% of what they harvest) and the industry is a huge part of the economy here. The tea pluckers are almost exclusively women, and the men tend to do the pruning to keep the tea bushes at the appropriate height. As we trekked up and down these rocky slopes, we were astonished to see many of the women working barefoot. Our first day was a 9.5 mile hike, and the second day was 8.5, so we covered some distance and some elevation- but we did it with shoes.
Tea made for us up on a hillside where we stopped for a break. The locals were all so friendly and kind.
Sometimes the path looked like this!
Sometimes our path looked like this. :-/
Tuk tuk coming through
Once we had all taken our photos, she hefted the pack of wood onto her head, balanced only by that wad of fabric next to her hip, and tucked the machete into a fold in her dress.
Whole families would come running out waving and yelling hello. Ajith said it was likely the first time some, especially the kids, had seen foreigners in their back yards.
Ajith had magical powers of coordination. We would come around a corner and see a woman sitting next to a pot, boiling water for the tea she was about to make for us.
We came upon a group of women weighing in their tea leaves during a lunch break.
We also toured a tea factory, which was cool but I’ve already forgotten a lot of what we learned. A quick google will take care of you if you’re interested in the process.
These rollers pick up nono-tea bits using electrostatic attraction
This machine had a fancy vision system that sorted the tea bits by color, and the automation wonk in me wanted to ask a lot more questions about that part… but you know, language barriers and all.
So much tea!
What? We’ll have an opportunity to BUY at the end of the tour?? Shocking!
Back to Sri Lanka