The last port of call, collecting our thoughts
Trip Start Dec 29, 2010
152Trip End Dec 05, 2011
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The drive along the coast is beautiful, if interspersed with grave stones remembering all those who died during the tsunami of 2004, and there is still evidence of the destruction it caused in the scattering of abandoned houses.
Having settled everyone into the house, and enjoyed a bit of pool-time, Brad and I headed into Galle to make the most of the last night of babysitting: Georgie leaves us tomorrow afternoon to join her boyfriend who is flying in to have a 2 week holiday with her. Galle is a fort town, and, because of the large fortified walls built by the Dutch several hundred years ago, the buildings inside the fort survived the tsunami largely intact.
That said, the town is one of those towns which could be amazing in time, but the buildings generally need a touch of paint, and some reconstruction work to ensure they are preserved. Clearly they are heading in the right direction, though, as there are already a handful of nice places to eat, a couple of tasteful shops and a couple of hotels – one of which is the Aman – servicing westerners. If you went back in 5 years time the place could be a buzzing successful, and interesting tourist hub.
For us, wannabe eternal backpackers, we were expecting a bit more travelly buzz– as much as Fort Cochin had would have been enough – but were a little bit disappointed. Other tourists were thin on the ground, so it was difficult to find somewhere to eat that wasn't completely empty, we eventually found somewhere others had congregated and had a nice meal.
Palm 23, whilst undoubtedly a nice house with fabulous large garden overlooking the sea, was not quite as cosy and comfortable as the beach house. The 2 bedrooms bizarrely had large water features in them – really large, bath-like structures, with fountains which we instantly turned off. Georgie had the misfortune to fall into one of these water features, in the evening, when walking around hers and the boys room in the dark. Poor thing, we didn’t hear her screams, so the first thing we knew about it was when she arrived in the kitchen, soaking wet from top to toe, holding a drowned mobile phone. While it might look architecturally pleasing – the house is owned by an American architect -the water features are really a bit daft in a country jammed with mosquitoes and with a dengue fever issue. Needless to say, having surprised ourselves by the lack of bitey things on our trip so far, we have been eaten alive by sand flies and mosquitoes for the last 7 days.
Saturday was our last day with Georgie. The boys had a great time in the pool with her before Brad took her into Unawatuna to meet Ollie, her boyfriend who has come out to spend 2 weeks in the sun with her. She has been a great person to have in tow for the last couple of months – incredibly easy-going and fun, and the children love her. With 3 brothers of her own she has been great at throwing the children around the swimming pool, playing scrabble and cards with them, and has been better than us at putting Benjamin down to sleep. The children were sad to see her go, Jamie and Zach trying to stop her by gunning her down with their pistols, and Benjamin actually cried.
The children were reunited with Georgie briefly yesterday when we took her and Ollie out to lunch. Having heard so much about the boyfriend, we had to meet him! Having spoken to Ollie on Skype the night before, the children were excited about meeting him too as he had promised to bring chocolate from England and didn't disappoint, arriving with a huge Celebrations box and mars bars.
Today - our last day of our year-long trip - was spent playing in the waves on Marissa beach, and we had lots of fun driving along in the mini-van, Brad, Jamie and Zach up front in charge of music and me and Benji in the back. It has been a fantastic year, we are leaving with very much mixed feelings: happy to return to friends and family, but sad that our wonderful time together has come to an end. It really has been a special year, a life-changing experience for all of us, and has produced some unforgettable, treasured memories. A huge thank you to the children for being so amazing.