Plantations.

Trip Start Feb 19, 2006
1
72
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Trip End Oct 01, 2006


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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Friday, August 4, 2006

First off, thanks to all who have given support this way--it is very much appreciated.
That said, I think I should get back to Kandy, and afterward, now while though tired, I have some time to describe some of the many experiences that has been the whirlwind of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is a bit more expensive than India, but not a heck of a lot.
I did stay in Kandy one more night to see the big parades with the elephants and dancers for the festival of the now famous beerless Buddha tooth, which of course, no-one knows for sure if it is authentic, or just the shattered dentifrice of some poor peasant in the year 583, or something.
Whatever it is, people come from all corners of the island to party with the tooth, so to speak, but as we have already discerned, without anything nice like Lion Lager.
Elephants are decked out with little christmas-type lights, blanketed from head to toe, and their mahouts sit is similarly ornamented cupolas on their backs. A ten-foot-tall christmas tree in the shape of an elephant's head is kind of eerie looking, especially when surrounded by native drummers and torch bearers, all dancing and competing, presumably for some prize--maybe for the highest magnitude of light measurable, or a decibel level rivalling that of a 1972 rock concert.
All in all it was quite a bit of fun to watch, I had found a spot on a side street, pulled up a handy lump of dung the size of a coffee table, and took a seat next to the torch-maintenance guys, who would periodically shower me with chunks of burning coconut husk, which they use for fuel. A distinctive smell, and, yes, the elephants dance too, some with gigantic penises hanging down to the ground. I guess they are a bit excited about showing off, and perhaps the competition is partially based on something of that nature, because the crowd seemed a bit more enthusiastic as a five-legged elephant went by, waving his head to the beat, reminding just slightly of those guido-types who dance in the downtown clubs with a similar state of **ahem** excitement. Though where the dancing female bimbo elephants were, I can't say. Possibly drinking all the beer in town, getting ready to take one of the Disco Elephants home with them. . .
Wading back through the ash and dung, I went back to the Pink House, my little family-style place I had stumbled upon in the chaos of my arrival. A good friend of the matriarch's offered to take me to their place in the tea country, where her husband was superintendent, and where I could stay for free. The next morning we were to leave, and perhaps a good thing, because the night before the young fellows had downed a bottle of ilicit Arrack, a kind of coconut whiskey, and there had been some commotion as the younger had had a little bit of a drunken tantrum. I can see that in Boston on just about any night, so a couple of days at a tea plantation sounded pretty good. .
We caught the bus to Nuwara Elia (pronounced "Nwaralia), and then a three wheeler to the completely-devoid-of-western-tourists town of Ragalla, arriving in the afternoon. The woman (sorry, names are tough for me), showed me to my own room, giving me the freedom to roam about the house, which was large and mazelike in construction. Mostly I wanted to sit on the porch and read and write as is my personal custom in the afternoons as the sun sets. The patio was western-facing, so the sunset was in full view as I sipped the tea estate's finest product, compliments of the family. They came out and sat with me as I strummed guitar into the evening, a late supper of traditional sri lankan food (they eat chicken for breakfast, too) completed the day, and I slipped off to bed about 9 pm, the same time as the rest of the family.
***My profuse apologies about the lack of pictures, but the internet is extremely
slow here and unreliable, as well as extremely expensive. In fact this blog has probably cost more than all of the rest of my living expenses. But what the heck, sharing is caring, I guess. . ****We shall have all the pictures in by bangkok, if not before.
In the morning I sipped some coffee, not at all bad for being made by tea people, and after my chicken breakfast, I set about making my plan. The husband had found out that I had some mechanical aptitude, so after readjusting the carburetor and cleaning the distributor contacts in his car, he bade me to fix his motorcycle as well. After rigging a passable spark plug cap-wire, and taking apart the carburetor, the bike started up, though one sniff of the exhaust showed, (not without a tiny bit of thanks to the gods on my part) that he was going to need some piston rings, if not a whole rebuild. I stressed that for his car, which was now running fine again, that he would have to put in a rotor, distributor, wires, and plugs very soon, or the car might just die completely. The contacts were worn thin and corroded as hell, and there is only so much a good cleaning can do before mechanical failure takes the front seat.
The nearest parts store was in Norwood, some distance away, and parts could not be had within the next couple of days at least, so I planned to climb a huge cliff I saw on the horizon about 5 km away, then make my escape the next day, before the old man had me setting up a motor garage in his driveway, using minimal tools and bieng supposed to fix on-board computers and such using string and tape. Not that I don't enjoy working on cars and motorcycles, I do, and it is nice to give back to people who offer their fine hospitality, but one day spent doing it is enough, I think, people pay good money at home for me to come out with my tools. . .
Come hell or high water, and with no regards to smoky-running hondas, I was going to get to the top of the goddamn cliff in the distance the next day.
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