This is a story about the Exner family who came to Sri Lanka on holiday in early March. Little did they know they would be locked out of their home countries of Germany and Thailand for almost 12 weeks. When the lockdowns began in Sri Lanka the Exners were staying at The Spice Trail and decided to make it their home base until they could go home. During that time we got to know them really well and they made a lasting impact on us as well as the town. Here is their story in their own words....
Tell us about your family...
We are a family of 4 with two boys; one and 3 years old.
We are from Thailand (mom) and Germany (dad). The boys were born in Germany where we live most of the time. This year we planned to stay in Thailand from January till June so the boys would learn more Thai language and culture. In March we planned a 3 weeks holiday on Sri Lanka which we started on March 8th.
After one week into our vacation it became clear that there will be an island-wide lockdown coming soon. So we looked for a place where we could stay and found the Spice Trail in Arugam Bay. When we arrived we had a booking for 3 nights. Little did we know that it would be almost 12 weeks that we would be guests to this beautiful place.
What was it like being "stuck" here for three months?
When we arrived the manager [Dinal] welcomed us and informed us about the coming-up situation. From the beginning on he made it clear that no matter how the situation with corona might develop, we could stay as long as we would like. The first three days there were two other guests staying at the Spice Trail but they decided to leave the contry before the lockdown. From then on we were the only guests and the lockdown came into place only 1 day later.
Everybody at the hotel made us feel at home at all times and especially for the kids it was a wonderful place to spend the day. Over time we got to know the staff better and the kids enjoyed playing with them. They were allowed to "help“ in the garden and in the kitchen.
We soon knew that we would want to stay here at least until the situation in Germany or Thailand was getting better. We had found a beautiful place with lovely people in a very safe area.
Fort he entire time that we were there everybody at the hotel was working as hard as if it would be running on full capacity. Pool, garden, kitchen and all the other places cleaned until spotless and perfect everyday.
Even after a total of 77 days we did not feel bored or ready to leave. If anything it felt like leaving friends after such a long time.
Read Part 2 here.