As the boy signalled for me to get on the back of his moped my stomach lurched in a momentary pang of fear. Was I going to end up as just one of those statistics in the newspaper? “English woman aged 22 disappears while on holiday in Sri Lanka”. As I said though, the pang was momentary and the boy, who had one tooth missing in the bottom row of his otherwise perfectly white, perfectly straight teeth, didn’t look like a kidnapper or murderer. I gave Alison a reassuring grin.
'Verity, are you sure about this?' she said with a restraining hand on my arm as I swung my leg over the saddle of the moped.
I laughed and nodded, convinced with the unshakeable belief of the young and invincible that I would be fine. My bum had barely touched the seat before my little grinning friend sped off. Within moments, the sanitised Sri Lanka of the tourist resorts was behind us and the wind was blowing in my face as the little moped whizzed through dense foliage on what could best be described as a hiking trail. Despite the fact that I couldn’t see any signs of life nearby we came to an abrupt halt after about five minutes on this track. My cash was taken and stuffed in a grubby shorts pocket, while I was ushered into a bush and told to wait. Then the moped spirited my money, and the only person in the world who knew exactly where I was, away.
Time ticked slowly by in the bush and I started to get paranoid about insects. Surely there must be millions of them all around me. It was quite dark despite the blazing sun I knew was high in the sky somewhere above me. I became convinced that strange creepy crawlies were making their determined way towards me. I started to spin round in the confined space, my breath loud, panting, trying to catch sight of them all before they got me. I couldn’t see anything though so I burst out of the bush on to the path, flailing my arms around in the air and whimpering pathetically. The relatively open space now surrounding me calmed me down quickly though and then I just stood there waiting, hot and annoyed, hoping that the boy would return soon. I heard the moped before I saw it, then it came spinning round a corner. The boy’s mouth dropped open when he saw me waiting on the path.
‘You wait in bush I said.’
I shrugged. ‘I heard you coming so I got out.’
He gave a fearful glance behind him and motioned for me to get on quickly. As I sat down behind him he stuffed a carrier bag in my hands.
‘Put it in your bag.’
The trip back to the beach was taken at an even faster speed than the outward journey. When we got there I was deposited back to Alison, who was still standing in the exact same spot where I’d left her, and the boy zoomed off shouting back over his shoulder that when I wanted more he’d be around. Back in our hotel room I pulled out the biggest bag of weed I’ve ever seen in my life from my backpack and dropped it on the bed. Alison and I just looked at each other then burst into semi-hysterical laughter – we only had ten days of our time in Sri Lanka left and even if we got stoned all day every day, we’d need to stay for at least a month, probably two, to get through a bag this size. Oh well, we decided to give it our best shot by tucking straight in and if we couldn’t quite manage it, we’d just donate it to someone when we left. It had only cost a fiver after all.