. Early afternoon I decided to take a stroll along the main road in town and perhaps check out the beach. Not having stepped out on the road more than 10 metres I was constantly barged with “Hello? How are you?” “Which Country?” I realized quickly I had to be selective on who I responded to or else I’d be having half hour conversations with everyone or just had to respond and keep on walking. However upon walking by a juice bar and hearing a friendly “Hello”, I responded back and also responded to “Which Country?” while I continued walking. But when his response to “Canada” was so animated I stopped and sat down to listen to his story. It turns out that a Canadian woman from Vancouver had helped him to set up his juice bar and he was so indebt to her that he named it after her; db’s Juice bar and pub. She is supposed to be returning in a couple of weeks and he can’t wait to show her the name. I ended up ordering a watermelon juice which was delicious and while consuming that I continued chatting with Nuwan about this that and the other thing. He also owns a tour company with his office next door to the juice bar. It’s early days for both ventures but I admire him for his entrepreneurial ship. Upon finding out I did not having any plans he asked if I wanted to join him in going to Ranweli Resort (www.ranweli.com) for a drink and bite to eat after he went and picked his sister up from school. Feeling comfortable enough with him and seeing he is respected and has a good reputation based on all the people coming to talk to him I said sure. I’m glad I did because the place was unbelievably beautiful and not a place I could ever afford on this venture. It’s on a little island were you have to take a minute pole boat ride across whereby you land in paradise. After enjoying the beach views over a drink and bite to eat, he challenged me to a game of table tennis. I accepted but warned him I’ve not really played before in my life
. Over the hour or so we played I did improve but don’t expect me to be in the World Championships anytime soon. Leaving paradise behind we went back to the juice bar to check in on Sampath, who runs the juice bar and hung out a bit longer there. We ended the night by going to a local joint called Hotel Taj for some amazing ginger tea and Kotthu Roti.
My first full day in Negombo, I did nothing but sleep in, enjoyed a late breakfast. Mid-morning Nuwan picked me up in his brother’s tuk-tuk and took me on a mini tour of Negombo town. It’s not much but there is an interesting fish market, and many Dutch Canals which were built to transport mainly cinnamon but other spices as well down from the hill country for export. In the afternoon I sat on the veranda and tried to catch up on my blogs. It was so nice not to have to go anywhere, see anything or really do anything, except what I wanted. It’s been over three months since I’ve had that luxury and it was really nice. In the evening I joined Nuwan for dinner at a restaurant on the beach called Serendib”s. We shared a really nice fried fish curry dish and some fried rice. Being a Saturday night there was some great people watching to be had with many of the locals enjoying a night on the town. Nuwan explained that this used to be a place where only the tourists would come but now more and more locals are coming due to changing values and more expendable income
I don’t exactly know what or when but I’ve finally been struck by Delhi belly and I’m not even in Delhi. So it was morning of hanging around my room, enjoying the verandah and more blog writing. Nuwan invited me to his house for Sunday lunch, which I was really nervous about because I had met his aunties the previous night on the street and they were very curious about me. Turns out it was just his sister Stephanie who is fifteen and did all the cooking, Nuwan and myself. Nuwan’s mother died almost two years ago from kidney cancer and he has been looking after Stephanie pretty much since, as his dad hasn’t been able to cope and has basically disengaged from the family. Stephanie put on a really good spread with beef curry, prawn curry, fried rice, poppadum, an amazing pineapple red chili dish and an indescribable vegetable dish which tasted amazing. Probably not the best meal for my dodgy stomach but Nuwan (he did the shopping) and Stephanie put so much effort into it I had to hold up my end. Afterwards I accompanied Nuwan back to his juice bar on the main drag and parted ways to finally go to the beach. Negombo beach isn’t really anything to write home about in terms of swimming and sunning. It’s very much a fishing beach with many boats lined along the shore; coming and going. I knew this so my intention was only to go for a walk along the beach through the crashing waves
. It was a Sunday so there were a lot of families out enjoying the beach and water, fully clothed of course. As well I encountered many a fisherman asking to take me out on their boat to which I politely declined and one cheeky local who wouldn’t take no for answer when he asked me to come back at 7:00pm for a party on the beach. After 45 minutes of constant attention and getting tired of it, I decide to head up to the main road and walk back to my hotel. In my three days here I’ve quickly realized that many of the men have ulterior motives and are desperate to move out of Sri Lanka. Nuwan has told be so many stories of people he knows that have met older women from the UK, Holland, Russia you name it and are now living abroad. It’s all about getting the visa which is very difficult for them to get, even a tourist visa. All because of the 30 year war that only ended in 2009. Hopefully in some years’ time this will change and it will be easier for Sri Lankans to travel.
Liking the beach town vibe Negombo has, still having a bit of a dodgey stomach and enjoying the company of Nuwan, his family and friends I decided to stay a couple more days so moved hotel to a place on the beach that also has a pool at their sister property next door. It rained pretty much the whole day so spent most of it at the covered pool bar finishing up my blogs of India.
The next day I offered up my painting skills and help Nuwan and Sampath paint the walls in his tour office. The original wall colour was a dark blue and he wanted to paint the walls white. So after sanding the walls we started with a coat of primer and I quickly realized this was going to be a big job as the primer was barely making a change. After finishing the first coat, we took a break to wait for the paint to dry. I was completely soaked as we were working in 35 C temperatures but it felt good to do something productive and those who know me know I love to paint. In the evening we put on a second coat with not much of a difference. I explained to them that primer wasn’t going to be enough and that they actually needed white paint. They eventually agreed and would do that the next day. Unfortunately I was leaving for Kandy the next day so could not help finish the project but wished them luck and I’d be back to see the results.
I landed in Colombo at 4:30am after a mind-numbing 8hr layover in Mumbai. Mumbai was actually a very nice airport but there is only so much food to eat and drink to drink and then its sit and wait. My mind wasn't into reading and thankfully I found a comfortable seat near a TV that was broadcast a bunch of US and Australian shows with English subtitles. So I’m now all caught up on "Packed to the Rafters", “Melissa and Joey” and “How I Met your Mother”. Grabbing a taxi after securing some cash and a Sri Lanka Sim card I was on my way to Negombo, a beach town closer to the airport then Colombo. My first impression of Sri Lanka was how clean it was, relatively quiet on the roads (though it was early morning) and that they actually follow traffic rules. Arriving at the Blue Horizon Guest house before 6am in the morning was not a problem and after only waiting an hour and half which included a delicious breakfast on the house I was in my really nice, clean room. Not having really slept at all since the night before my first priority was a nap which happened in about 30 seconds flat