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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Sunday, March 25, 2012

So before I start back to the airport-should you wish to buy a washing machine,TV set or you are short of a rice cooker -all can be purchased before you reach immigration.Im not sure whether you load the washing machine on your back together with your luggage but it just seems comical thatsuch items can be bought from the duty free!! Now to continue I board the bus hollering at the driver not to leave before I can get my other foot on board-its part of bus life that they only stop for 1/2 second before taking off.This guys is a madman and more than once my stomach reaches my mouth with total fright on board -its a crush of humanity interspersed with the balm seller,the lottery ticket seller,the cooked corn and peanut sellers and to top it a man who sings very badly all the time banging a tambourine but thats what makes life interesting seeing aspects of life of a different country.Unawatuna finally arrives and I leave with white knuckles having held on for dear life as the bus carrens in and out of traffic nearlykilling us several times.The blood does not return to my hands for some minutes and Im visibly shaken.It has been one of the most frightening trips of my life.Unawatuna is a half moon bay of gorgeous sand and surf and is somewhat full of people and the days while away very easily.I stay at the Navoad guest house (1600 rupees in the street behind the beach )-a non descript place with a non descript room and a bathroom where the cockroach count increases day by day.The beach is fine and I watch all sorts of people living day by day from the exremely bronzed man with the pony tail to an equally bronzed woman-no a very dark dark woman who it seems has been in the sun far too long.On one particular day a very overweight woman enters the sea and begins to swim awkwardly far our beyond the surf and I realy cant take myeyes off the flailing woman.It worries me whether she will ever make it back to shore-I consult Rowan about the situation to no avail he is far too interested in looking at all the nubile bodies who trapse back and forth along the shoreline.Im happy to report thatshe finally makes it back after being out there for nearly an hour sadly no lighter than when she entered.Lets put it like this if she was on the Titanic I would get to know her and stick by her side-you understand don't you??? Days drift by and I eat in the South Ceylon vegetarian restaurant-a veritable feast greets me every night for about 600 rupees.The cast of characters is interesting.Its run by a very well spoken Englishman and his brother with very quiet voices and he moves around perpetually seeming worried about everybody and constantly proffering apologies in between studying his computer and the BBC news slouched in his chair as his wife and assistants toil in the kitchen.Then there is a very portly Englishman with pony tail and earings about 65 who it seems has lived everywhere for many years on the Indian subcontinent and tells tales of Tibet and Nepal-he is a truly interesting person.I decide to move on to somewhere a little quieter and travel to Mirissa another half moon bay of golden sand and surf but alot less busy.There are about 10 restaurant /bars on the beach all of which are lit by candle at night selling fresh fish caught that morning.Rooms are expensive on the beach but I find the Central Beach Inn and secure a room for 1800 rupees exteremy cheap compared to everything else that is available.Here once again days while away and I sit in silence reading and taking in the sunsets until I spy Gary an englishman from Jersey walking down the beach-Ive met him in Unawatuna and tells me that Jack-the cool girl who helped me initially on the Colombo bus- and her father are coming here-he is here to watch England play cricket as it seems are alot of englishmen.They ae going to be in Mirissa for a couple of days and he tells me he is having dinner with them and asks me to join them.Her father is 73 and I truly want to meet him as he seems very interesting and we talk over beer and fresh fish late into the evening.He pays over my pleas to please accept my money to no avail.I'm leaving in the morning for Tiss as I have had enough of beach life and wish to see something else of sri lanka.A bus takes me there and Im aware of the touts one of whom beckons me to get off 5 mins from the bus station.I refse and carry onto the bus staion where Im met by more touts one of whom is interesting.He tellsme hes not here for business but merely in the bus station to catch the bus.After 10ins of trying to helpme I tell him ''I thought you were just here to catch the bus''.He begins to irritate me and I head for the Hotel Tissa (2000 rupees-I got it for 1800 but Im sure you can get it cheaper) a very empty hotel-in fact I get the impression that Im the only one here.Im here to go to Yala-a huge nature preserve.They book all the necessary transport and tickets and I venture off for somewhere to eat.Now since there are limted places I go to the roti shop across the road.Its a very dingy and dirty place full of mosquitoes and where a couple of sri lankans are devouring curry with grunts all the time glued to the very loud in terms of volume television with a soap opera playing.The owner says there are 4 other people who wish to go to Yala and if I go it will be cheaper so we all set off the next day.They are 2 very cool couples and we all get along so well swapping information on sri lanka.The morning is disappointing-there seem to be so many safari trucks that any animal would certainly be put off showing themselves.The afternoon proves to be much better and we see many birds and elephants and other widlife but always prayng to see the elusive leopard.We are rewarded late in the afternoon with a sighting-its a very rare ocurrence and we are truly lucky.It slinks away into the undergrowth after crossing the sandy track and stands fairly motionless looking in our direction.We see its eyes fixed on us and its a brilliant sight to see such a wonderful animal in the wild.It moves slowly away into the bush and melts away.The next day we all decide to head to the hill country to the tiny town of Ella.Its a 2 1/2 jouney by bus as compared to the 1 1/2 that a woman told me on the bus.It matters not though and the bus crawls slowly up the winding road to the cooler climes.Its warm during the days with cobalt skies and the nights are cool and the air is fresh and sweet.We reach it and I stop and take charge of the bags whilst sipping on sri lankan coffee as they all search for accomadation.The owner comes and asks where is my family which I find so amusing-they are all successful-a doctor,nurse,architect and scientist and I become their unofficial Dad.After searching for 1 1/2hours they come back empty handed everywhere is so expensive.I say I will go and look and find a place within 5 mins up a track- Lizzies Guest House-turn right after Nescoffe-(doubles 1800 single 1000).Its a beautiful and quiiet palce surrounded by tropical growth.The mornings are cool and the trees are full birds announcing the start of another day.Its a place to sit quietly and take everything in and savour the peace.Enough for today-Finlays tea factory and the archaic processes it uses as well as its labour practices another day for you........
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Therese on

You're tales are better than anything I'd find on audio tape Duncan! Thank you!

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