Sri Lanka is definitely ticking the boxes for us right now. Wonderful people, flavoursome food, a laid-back atmosphere – it reminds me of the Bahamas, and is how I imagine most of the Caribbean to be. We were witness to the most beautiful of sunsets yesterday. Life is good here. Especially after a 12 hour sleep to shake off any potential jetlag. It’s so pleasant to rise to chirping birds, glorious sunshine and a hammock to take another nap in.
Galle is a pleasant town, which is slowly rebuilding its infrastructure and confidence after it was devastated by the tsunami in 2004. We ambled around the fort, observed the lighthouse, and spent time watching a school game in the cricket ground. Their passion for the game is infectious. This sometimes has a negative impact, especially if they realise you are British and England have contrived to lose to Ireland in the World Cup the previous day. But we love their enthusiasm. The gates were covered in posters and boards expressing their joy and pride that the world cup was being held, whilst not in their city, in their own country.
We had passed these gates earlier, at lunchtime, and had been witness to a most extraordinary scene. Scores of schoolchildren were outside, lining the street, and making a cacophony of noise – clapping, cheering, chanting. A few students were breakdancing inside a circle of affectionate comrades, whilst others had climbed a large pole and were hanging delicately from it. We were briefly in the line of fire of some firecrackers, but were warned by the protagonists. Chris tried to take a video of all of this, but…failed. Still, we have no idea as to why all the commotion. Interestingly, school finishes here at 1.30. Very different from Korea, and the cause of mass traffic in the middle of the day.
The reason we were out and about at this time was to collect my friend Juno from the train station. Many of those who taught in Korea last year will know Juno. She may even have hired some of you. A wonderful, confident girl, she has been in India for the last six months, and has come to Sri Lanka to change her visa in order to return back to the big country. The fact that she possesses such a strong desire to return there makes me excited to go.
In the meantime, Chris and I are happy enough to be excited with all of the exotic food we are getting to enjoy. Breakfast was splendid – a vast array of fruits, egg, and buffalo curd. This is something truly magical. It’s not particularly solid, so is easily spread on bread, looks similar to cream fraiche, and has the taste of a light yet excellent cheese. You can keep your Philadelphia; I will happily gorge on this.
On the Friday Nuwah treated us to home-cooked food in his house, which allowed us the opportunity to try the food that is a staple of a Sri Lankan diet….rice and curry. They don’t get bored of it. The catch was that we had to buy the alcohol. I attempted to barter in the liquor store, which was met with a look of disgust by the salesman. Nuwah then explained to me that it was ‘fixed price’ in this stall. For those who are interested, the local beer is Lion, which is very nice, and the indigenous spirit is called Ackar, which is a surprisingly nice 33.5% beverage that has a similar smell and taste to calpol.
This was a very interesting experience. The food itself was very nice – similar in taste to the restaurant of two days ago, but with the knowledge that everything was grown nearby – but it was other aspects that absorbed our minds. The long, windy drive to his house through fields and jungle. The fact that there is one toilet – a hole – for three or four houses. The influence of Buddhism throughout the house. A way of life that is a world away from ours, but one which they enjoy and wouldn’t change. Oh, and the heat of the chillies. I managed to take it quite well. Other Brits around…well…got a bit red…
These first few days have been so chilled out, so relaxing and yet so fulfilling. We could have done so much more – and would have gone snorkelling if any of us had remembered our passports – but I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the south of this fascinating island. I would love to have more time down here, and would relish the chance to get to the national parks and temples in the Cultural Triangle in the centre of the country, but alas our cricket schedule means that we have to head back to the capital, Colombo. Still, I’m not too down about this aspect of the trip – we will be going to our first Cricket World Cup match, after all…
Love you all