Goodbye Sri Lanka

1 January, 2018 – Monday

We are spoiled today with our New Year’s Day breakfast treats. So many traditional Sri Lankan celebratory sweets are served that we can’t possibly eat in one sitting. We leave them on the table to nibble on throughout our day. The next 14 hours are uneventful and spent lounging around the pool and the beach. It is quiet and we enjoy every moment trying to push away thoughts of packing and leaving this blissful wonderland.

2 January, 2018 – Tuesday

We are leaving our lovely villa today and making our way to Negombo for our morning flight tomorrow. We start the day with one last glorious run on the beach followed by one last fabulous breakfast. It feels very sad to all of us to have to go. Our time here was much too short. We encourage the kids to frolic in the ocean and take one last dip in the pool. It all seems so final.

lastrun

We say our goodbyes to the staff who feel like new friends. They have been incredibly warm and kind to all of us. Caroline wrote them a thank you note that we all signed and she asks them all to come into the living room for a formal presentation and farewell. The guys are very sweet and very respectfully accept her letter, shaking her hand and wishing us well. It’s bittersweet and wonderful to have enjoyed this time here.

Letter

We have a few stops planned to break up our trip back to the Colombo area: seeing traditional stilt fisherman, checking out historic Galle Fort and visiting a turtle conservation centre.

We find the stilt fisherman not far from Galle Fort – it seems to us like a better career than actually fishing. These guys (actors really) wait around all day in sarongs, chat with tourists, pose for pictures, and cool off in the ocean. The kids pose for photos balancing on the stilts (which look a bit unstable) with the fisherman all for $5 per person…so five actors and five kids, $50AUD. It’s ok, the kids love it and the pictures are great!

“The practice started during World War II when food shortages and overcrowded fishing spots prompted some clever men to try fishing on the water. At first they used the wreckage of capsized ships and downed aircraft, then began erecting their stilts in coral reefs. Two generations of fishermen have eked out this physically demanding existence at dawn and dusk along a 30-kilometer stretch of southern shore between the towns of Unawatuna and Weligama.” – Doug Bierend

We visit Galle Fort – it is a 600 year old military fortification built by and added to by the Dutch, British and Portuguese…not at the same time. The fort itself took about 100 years to build. Most of the older buildings in town were destroyed during the Sri Lankan civil war we are told. Galle city was also severely destroyed by the 2004 tsunami but supposedly not one drop of water hit the fort. 5000 people were killed by that tsunami and while we were visiting Kandy it was the anniversary of that day. We witnessed people attending a local temple in remembrance of all the lives lost. I also read that a train carrying passengers between Galle and Colombo was washed away by the waves and taking with it 1700 passengers. What a terrible day for Sri Lanka.

Arun and I walk around the fort talking about food. I have loved the food here, it’s all so fresh and flavourful. We’ve been served coconut milk rice a couple of times and it’s heavenly. It’s basically red rice cooked in coconut milk then formed into squares or triangles by being pressed flat in a pan and then cut…like brownies. It’s warm, rich and has a touch of salt. We have eaten it for breakfast with dal many times. A very filling start to the day. Sri Lankan’s eat with their hand. Arun says they believe the curry and  spices taste better when eaten this way. The rice is used to absorb the sauces and scoop up their food.

redrice

One last stop at Victor Hasselblad Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Area. We have a guide show us around the hatchery. We see many eggs buried in sand marked with the date and how many eggs are in that location. We see babies of 1, 2 and 3 days in their respective pools. We are able to pick these cute little guys up for a closer look as they flap their flippers in the air wildly trying to escape our grip. They have albino turtles, injured, malformed, and blind turtles who are all living out their days in peace here.

It’s only 210 km from Dickwella to Negombo but it literally takes us all day for the journey. The driving was very slow throughout Sri Lanka. The traffic is filled with local buses, tuk tuks, motor-bikes, and animals running in the road. We didn’t realise it would be such a long day of driving.

We are wiped by the end of it and in need of food and rest. After checking in we quickly make a bee-line to dinner in the hotel’s restaurant before retiring to our rooms. We said our goodbyes to our dear friends as we are leaving earlier than they are in the morning. A bit too many goodbyes for one day. Thank goodness for wonderful memories and warm feelings to walk away with.

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