The bus stations are not so much stations as they are a spot on the road the buses go to. You buy tickets on the bus from a person holding a clipboard. You can tell what bus is going where by the same person telling the destination name over and over again. The catch is that most times you are not going to the final destination but a stop along the way. So it's really a game of luck and chance every time you get on a bus. Luggage has also proved to be an issue as there is no under storage like the buses I have been used to, and the overhead rack is to small. Usually we can leave our bags beside the driver but sometimes we have to carry them (plus Dans guitar). It's a grand ol time. We were able to squish ourselves into a busy bus headed past the beach town of tangella. Again it was a hot, sweaty, uncomfortable ride. Locals were friendly and wanted to chat and I was in no mood to have a broken English conversation but I'm not rude so that's what I did
. For several long hours. We got to tangella found a lovely mosquito infested guest house belonging to a sweet family (great grandma, grandma, mom, dad and 10 month old baby) the grandma was quite upset and we learnt that her dog had just died unexpectedly that morning. (Dan and I bought her flowers). In true Sri Lankan fashion the city was nothing special but so pleasant and lovely. The beach is long with a fishing harbor at one end and 5 star resorts at the other. The waves are insane ! The largest I've ever seen (I know I've said this a few times, but it is true!) We spent hours and hours over the next few days just being beaten up by the water. The heat is almost unbearable (sorry to everyone back home) it's over 30 degrees and humid by 9 am. You are constantly coated in a layer of sweat with no relief as AC doesn't exist anywhere (at least within my budget). The thing that made tangella so memorable to me is it's people. We had so many great experiences with locals that by our last day there we couldn't walk down the street without seeing one of our new friends and having a chat with them. It was nice to have that familiarity and recognition for something other than spending money. some of our reoccurring friends were; a local 21 year old boy that we met on the local beach. His girlfriend is studying in Toronto and just gave birth to a baby boy 3 months ago. We met a local man who was in a wheel chair that came from a man from Vancouver. He lives with his aunt who feeds a wonderful cat and dog duo
. The story of this relationship melted my heart and was the reason Dan and I returned to this mans house for tea 3 more times. The dog had recently given birth to a litter of puppies but they had all been tragically run over by vehicles. The kitten was abandoned by her family and was near death when the dog adopted it as it's puppy. The kitten now thinks it's the dogs puppy and is never more than a foot away. The protection and love this dog felt for it's adoptive child nearly brought me to tears (granted I have been extra emotional these days, but it was still a wondrous sight that can teach so much). We spent a lot of time with this man. He opened up to us and told us about his first hand experience with the tsunami. Because he is wheelchair bound he was stuck in his house for 3 days without food or water surrounded by dead bodies and debris. he has a beach view house and watched the water recede, he said everyone ran to the newly created shallows to pick up all the shells and pretty ocean treasures. He then described seeing the wave and feeling utterly hopeless. The wave brought more destruction than he could have ever thought possible. There were huge fishing boats alongside his house which was all but destroyed. People were screaming and houses were flattened. He said the whole thing took 15 min, and everything he knew ended. He lost his father, brother and 3 nieces. His reenactment of his experience was haunting. It makes any problem I've ever Gadsden trivial. We met 2 guys on the beach working at a bar that tried to teach us how to slack line plus made delicious fruit Lassies, we saw them cruising around town frequently. We met another local business owner on the beach, he invited us to watch the Sri Lanka vs west indies cricket match in the world cup while we sampled the local drinks and "smokes", we saw him at breakfast several times looking quite weary. One night we were walking back from feeding the dog and cat duo and met a local shop owner. He had worked in this shop for 15 years hand making tractor parts on machines that looked and sounded older than the dinosaurs
. He invited us in and with the help of his son explained the process. He then told us an incredible story of how he came to be in tangalla. He was born in a village further north where he had met his wife. She was 9 months pregnant with (unbenounced them) twins. The civil war was going on in full strength and there was chaos in the village the government and the LITE were using his village as a shooting zone while placing multiple landmines. Him, his wife and several others set off to escape through an abandoned mine and it's maze of shafts. Everything was going well until the government found them and a shoot out ensued. Luckily two of the other refuges had guns and it allowed the man and his wife to escape. The shooting and stress however caused his wife to go into early lab our, she successfully delivered two twin girls in a waterfall. He went on to have 3 more daughters and 2 sons. they all relocated to tangella where all but 2 perished in the tsunami. Another haunting story told with passion and grief. We had a nice chat each time we passed the store. we have also been running into a lovely Spanish couple everywhere (Kandy, Ella, train and tangella) one lady is from Spain and the other from Colombia. Another lovely couple we met was at the dinner restaurant we frequented (they call local eateries hotels). This was a place with no menu and the meal changed everyday even though we ordered the exact same thing. This couple loved to have their picture taken and just liked to listen to us speak and watch us play cards
. It was a really welcoming town where the people didn't have an agenda when they ask you "where are you from" "how old are you" "where are you going" "where do you stay" "how do you like Sri Lanka" (it's always those 5 questions, usually followed by a billizon more) they are just truly interested. The animals were also lovely, we adopted and named several dogs (to add to the uncountable number already on this trip) played with so many cats and saw a monkey that had been killed by electrocution stuck to the telephone wires. Morbid scene. Dan is probably the only other person who wants to touch and play with every animal no meter how scabby; we are bad influences on each other.
We loved the atmosphere and people so much that we just didn't leave. All we saw was the beach. And it's one of my favorite places I've been.