Remembering the Tsunami

Tuesday 3rd April 2018

A leisurely day today … you need them now and again … a bit of admin, a bit of housekeeping – it’s not all holiday you know! Steve had got up early and run 6 miles – I don’t know what my excuse was – I just felt like being a bit lazy. We did walk to the local shops and climbed up 100 or so stairs to visit the temple on the way. Lovely to pass the school and see all the children in their pristine white uniforms – boys and girls – love to know what washing powder the Mums use here – they’re gleaming! We stopped off to see our new friend, Sunil, and have a chinwag and a very sour lime soda (it was us that insisted on no sugar). I had a 20 minute walk along the beach while we were there … and the sand is very soft even at the water edge … so I did get some exercise in.

But the rest of the day we just stretched out on the sun loungers and took occasional dips in the pool – bliss. We had friendly visits from iguanas, kingfishers, blizzard squirrels … and even a monkey came to hang out.

We did manage to get dolled up and take ourselves out for the evening – went to another beach restaurant called ‘Mamas’ – we had seen a flyer advertising live music. Good restaurant – I had a delicious Chicken Curry – and the service was excellent. There was live music, very loud live music (there’s no pleasing us grumpy old gits!) and it was a bit ‘family entertainment’ – Mums and children bopping away on the dance floor. We moved on to another beachfront bar for a swiftie before retiring to home.

Wednesday 4th April 2018

Now today we did get out and about (after a lay in and a late breakfast – well, we are retired)! Our tuk tuk picked us up at 11.00am – we have a lovely driver called Roisin, very amiable. Most drivers we have had here are so humble compared to other parts of the world – they’re almost embarrassed in asking you for money and prefer to undercharge rather than rip you off – it’s so refreshing. We were off to find a lagoon safari … but stopping at places of interest along the way.

1st stop: A temple in the sea. Didn’t find out too much about it but we stopped for a photo opportunity anyway!

2nd stop: The Tsunami temple – a magnificent Buddha statue was erected following the Boxing Day 2004 disaster, as a memorial to the over 35,000 Sri Lankans killed. It is the height of the 2nd wave that caused so much devastation. It was a humbling to visit the memorial as well as our next stop …. 3rd Stop: The Tsunami Photo museum. A collection of photos and posters have been thoughtfully mounted on the walls of a house that was badly damaged by the Tsunami. We met the lady whose house it is … and she has many sad stories to tell. Such graphic photos – a truly sombre and sobering experience.

4th stop: Turtle Farm – in exchange for a ‘donation’ we were shown around this turtle conservation project. It was a simple set up but we believed it to be genuine … the guide mentioned that they buy the eggs (we weren’t sure about the ethics of that one! – maybe you could enlighten us Caitlin?). They had a pool for the disabled turtles (missing limbs) and a pool for the newborns – they return the male ones to the sea after a few days but the female ones are kept for 2 years. They are in separate pools according to their types as some (Hawksbill in particular) are none too friendly.

5th and final stop: The Lagoon safari. For some reason, Steve and I got a whole boat to ourselves, whereas others we passed were packed out. We had a cheery little boat driver … but he looked about 12. Having been told we might see crocodiles in the lagoon I would have preferred a little more experience! But he did us proud, no complaints. He manoeuvred us steadily around the lagoon and through mangrove swamps, pointing out wildlife – cormorants, jellyfish, monkeys. We moored up at Cinnamon island where we were taken to a demonstration of cinnamon production … with retail opportunities! We also moored up so that we could visit a Buddhist temple and had a special blessing and white cotton bracelet tied on by a Buddhist monk …. more donation opportunities! Steve even got the chance to steer the boat and be ‘captain’ … all boys stuff!

And then we ventured out on our tuk tuk journey home – every journey’s an adventure – busy shopping areas, stunning beach views, local markets … cows wandering in front of you! And then, for over a mile, we had to pick our way through chaos as we faced a political demonstration in motorcade form head on – the noise was tremendous – young people demonstrating to out the current Prime Minister.

Luckily, after all that exertion, we had booked to have dinner at the hotel tonight – and they provided a feast of lobster and prawns with rice, potatoes and salad, with our BYO wine. The staff here are so wonderful and love to entertain – Monty is the chef and the gorgeously smiley Azi literally waits on us hand and foot. A perfectly chilled end to magnificently packed day.

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