Fifty in the Fort
Trip Start Jan 16, 2012
59Trip End Jul 11, 2012
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From our room we were just about level with walkers on the wall, which was like having front row seats at a parade. Families, couples hand-in-hand, athletes doing circuit training singly and in groups, dozens of school children in white uniform single file, a jogging group of Islamic school boys dressed all in white chanting call and response to their leader—all these went by unknowing they were making a show for us
The morning of my birthday the skies were clear and breakfast was set in the rooftop garden, bright with bougainvillea and other carefully tended flowers, and shaded by a trellis. Our only company there was the resident turtle, doing his morning constitutional stroll on the grass. It was a lovely start to Valentine’s Day.
We walked the narrow streets of the fort at random, finding some handicraft shops, Dutch antique restorers, good tea spots and restaurants, as well as the Historical Mansion, crammed with unlabeled artifacts from lives in the Dutch-built fort. We settled in so long for tea at the Royal Dutch Café that we got started talking to the owner, Fazil, a Galle old-timer who is featured in the locally written book, Around the Fort in 80 Lives. He showed us the write-ups of other people we might know, such as the owner of our guesthouse, Ocean View. Fatima, the seamstress sewing in the back of the café, showed us her profile in the book, and we found that of Mrs. Wijenayake, whom we had met when we arrived. (We had shown up at her guesthouse requesting a room, and having none, she had called around, in authoritative tones, to find us a place.) So we learned about some of the inhabitants of Galle Fort. At the same time, the inhabitants of Galle Fort could teach us about Canada: "Canada has 27 million English speakers and 7 million French speakers
The day became hot and muggy; black clouds built up and then cracked in forked lightning. Thunder followed soon after like avalanching rocks, then torrential rain. We watched the storm safe on our covered balcony. When it was all over, we were able to stroll again around the wall perimeter and finish off the day with Sri Lankan rice and curry at Mama’s Galle Fort Rooftop Café. The stars were behind the clouds that night, but the lighthouse took their place with its rotating beam.
Many blessings indeed.