Civil war, the tsunami, and more recently, the terrorist attacks. Sri Lanka, a traveler’s favorite, has not always had an easy time. Long-time fan of this island nation, Tamara Hinson explores the enduring appeal of its capital Colombo and finds it’s the locals who bring it to life.

It was certainly an unusual first visit to Sri Lanka. It was 2013 and I’d joined English cricketer Sir Ian Botham on his charity walk from one end of the country to the other.

His journey had started in the north, an area which was, at the time, somewhat war-ravaged and largely out of bounds to tourists. The civil war had ended in 2009, and a good chunk of the money raised from his walk was going towards various organizations tasked with helping this particular region. It was also a trip where I learnt much about Sri Lanka’s history.

Which is partly why I spent much of April, May and June 2019 embarking on frequent rants when I read headlines connecting April’s terrorist attacks to the country’s “troubled past.”