We’d returned from the jungle tuk tuk ride and arrived back at the lakeside just after dark.
We climbed down from the bus, walked into the hotel grounds when we were suddenly surrounded by about a dozen Sri Lankan guys, all whooping and hollering, grabbing us and dancing us around.
It took me a few seconds to realise, they were all people we’ve got to know over the years from the Tangalle area.
The last time we’d seen them all was at a party in Nilwella, last year. They were on their way From Tangalle to Newara Elliya and had heard that we were staying in the Lakeside , so had decided to join us for the night, stay there overnight and travel north the next day.
It was, by pure coincidence, my brothers birthday so what started as a sociable visit turned into a fantastic impromptu party.
A fantastic gesture on their part and wonerful to see them all again. Even more so as they bought all the drink with them
Another “”arrack attack”” in the morning.
Tissa to Polhenna and I was delighted to see real, pole fishermen at work.
Just take the little lane that runs from Polhenna beach, west along the coast and early morning we came across about 15 or so fishermen sitting patiently up their poles. They were not in the slightest bit interested in us apart from a waved good morning. Certainly no indication at all that they wanted anything for having their photo,s taken.
Then it was on to Mirissa by tuk tuk as it’s only a couple of miles along the coast and booked into the Mirissa beach Inn. As it was over the New Year, they had decided not to supply food for a couple of days but we were happy to accept room only and eat at neighbouring places.
I did pop into the little shop over the road and was amazed at the size quantity of fireworks being bought. We expected a noisy evening and it was for a few minutes around sunset, then went very quiet for the rest of the evening. Yay, a peaceful night.
Then it was like being in a war zone. Everyone and his uncle let off the noisiest fireworks you could imagine right as the sun started coming up over the horizon.
I was just wondering where to go for breakfast when there was a knock at the room door and the lady of the house was there to invite us to join her family for their ceremonial breakfast.
We were delighted to accept especially as no other guests were invited, just us.
All facing north, which we were told the astrologers had decided was the direction to face this year. It seems that it changes every year as dictated by the stars.
So facing north, eating the traditional Kiribath followd by a huge amount of other various sweet foods, although I did notice that Dhamika, the man of the house, did eat , facing north but at the same time twisting his neck so he could watch the president, on TV, having his ceremonial breakfast.
It was a treat and an honour to share this with them especially, as after the food, they continued with the ceremonial exchange of money.
They even included us in that and I’m now the proud owner of a crisp , new 100 rupee note which is guaranteed to bring me luck and good fortune in the coming year. I’m not spending that one.
While at Mirissa, we did a bus trip back to Nakulugamuwa to make another home visit.
For many years, since before the tsunami, we’ve been helping some kids with extra tuition and school stuff and we’d heard that one of our girls , Harshika, was home for the new year. Harshika has recently qualified and started at the Eastern University in Baticaloa so we couldn’t miss the opportunity to catch up and tell her how proud we are of her.
From Mirissa, we moved on to Hikkaduwa, staying at the Coral Rock for a very reasonable 3000 a night double room with a fantastic breakfast.
We opt for staying inside the reef so that we can just walk out of the door , into the sea and snorkel with the turtles and fish over the reef.
My toe was improving daily and I managed here, to pull off the remaining fixed bits of my toe nail, so was thinking I could join the others in the sea.
Until I walked into the rock.
Inside the hotel room, walking away from the room window, towards the door the area wasn’t well lit . Someone had placed a big lump of rock on the floor as a doorstop and , you guessed it, exactly on the point of the same toe.
The end of the toe and the raw bit where the nail used to be split open quite deeply and the rock actually sliced a lump from the end of the toe. It’s now a bit shorter than it’s counterpart on the other foot.
As you can imagine, I sat on the floor in a spreading pool of blood and swore loud enough to be heard in Colombo.
So much for my snorkelling.
The others enjoyed Hikkaduwa and told me all about how there were more turtles than usual and how clear the water was, you know, all the things which I no longer had any interest in.
Anyway, when they were fed up with bragging, we took the train back to Negombo for the final 4 days.
Some will blanche at that but I really like Negombo. Not for the beach although there’s always something going on there to watch or to join in, but as a big, smelly, Sri Lankan working town.
We arrived back to find our quiet , budget hotel, the Oasis swarming with flight delayed travellers awaiting new flights.
They had been tipped out of their original hotels and some didn’t even know that the flights had been cancelled until they got to the airport.
Most of the original hotels, Browns Beach was one, which tried to treble their room rates when they realised everyone was stuck. Then rapidly dropped the rates again when people refuse to pay them and the hotel companies woke up to the fact, that as well as no one flying out, no new tourists were flying in either.
I was delighted when lots of these travellers decided they actually liked the Oasis and were happy to stay there for the same money that they could have returned to Browns beach.
Some of them told me, the rooms were not quite as good as Browns but the staff were better, the food was better and the drinks cheaper. So, although they were paying a lot more than I usually pay and I know that Susie has paid at the Oasis, they were happy with the deal.
But then , I suppose, someone who,s happy to tip the room boy 500 rupees just for carrying one bag up one flight of steps, as one of them did, isn’t too worried about the cash.
Anyway, the flight home was fine and I’ve now been hobbling around for a couple of weeks since the last crunch on my toe and after some treatment at our local Bridgend hospital it does seem to be on the mend and a little less painful every day.
That’s it,, home again and wondering when I can get away for the next trip. ( I might decide on steel toecap working boots next time ).
Thanks for reading all my waffle and if it raises any questions in anyone,s mind, please ask away.