Nilaveli Beach

Trip Start Nov 27, 2005
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Trip End Feb 25, 2005


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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Friday, February 17, 2006

Not many people are traveling in the north, as that's the heat of Sri Lanka's civil war between the Sihlanese and LLT (Tamil Tigers). The guerrila-fueled war has kept much of the north closed off the last 15-20 years. In 2001 things got quiet after both sides signed a cease-fire agreement, but the LLT surged again right after the Tsunami hit. The info we gathered from the locals is that it's been quiet the last months, as both parties are set for a series of peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland starting on the 25th of this month. The LLT especially looks to garner international sympathy for their cause, so we felt it safe to venture to Trinconomale ('Trinco' to Sri Lankans) and Nilaveli (supposedly the most beautiful beach on the island).

Oliver and I took the bus from Habarana to Trincomale, and another bus from Trinco to Nilaveli (normally i'm all for taking the local bus, but in this instance, the bus was ridiculously slow, and someone had a gas can, and its fumes were heavy and thick in the bus).

I should interject here that i wasn't so excited to go to Nilaveli. Oliver, on the other hand, was all about it. The words 'traveling,' 'no tourists,' and 'beautiful' make his eyes get big. He loves the places everyone else isn't going. Alone, I would have never gone, but together with Oliver I felt it would be okay, and it was. Nilaveli was amazing!

As we thought, there was no danger of fighting from either side in the area ("Peace begins with a smile" as one sign said).

From Trinco and beyond were NGOs from every rich western country you could imagine (not much from the U.S. though), and several villages built for all the displaced people after the tsunami.

In Nilaveli, the land has a dead, barren feeling to it on first impression. Dozens of hotels were leveled by the tsunami, and littered everywhere are boats, concrete in crumbles, and downed coconut trees. The beach is quintisential white sand and palm trees, but strewn with an immense amount of garbage, ruining the ambiance. No tourists are coming, no money coming in, and no one for whom to clean the beach. Everywhere displays some sort of reminder or another of what happened, of dead ones gone forever, of the big wave that came and swept everything away.

Only about 4 hotels were open in Nilaveli, and we stated at the Sea View for Rps. 1,000 ($10) per night plus food. We had the best room, the one on the rooftop, and slept outside two of the nights, falling asleep while gazing at thousands of stars.

There was another hotel down the beach that had one of those pools where the pool water runs into the ocean water, because there isn't really a distinct edge to the structure. The owner quoted us the same price as the Sea View, but we were so settled in at the Sea View we decided not to change to Coral Bay (phone 0094-26-2232272).

We found 2 dead sea turtles that had washed ashore, and considered taking the skulls and shells, but the next day when we went to collect the better of the two turtles, it was gone, perhaps sucked back into the ocean by the night's high tide.

Two days we went to Pigeon Island (so named for the thousands of pigeons that live and breed there) to snorkel and laze around...we could immagine the beauty before the tsunami, which destroyed most all of the coral. There's a pile 2-3 meters high on the beach of dead coral, whereas we heard before it was nothing but a fine, white sand. I still enjoyed being in the water, swimming around, checking out what was there. After all, we had the island mostly to ourselves, which is a special feeling in itself.

To contact a great three-wheeler (rickshaw) driver for Trinco and Nilaveli, call K.M. Rafeek tel. 071-305-9295
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Meanwhile, I am still finding time to practice yoga, and per Lino's advice, I showed Oliver how to help me in the poses where i need adjusting. It's great for my practice :) Oliver is also practicing some little yoga a few mornings a week. I admit, practice is much more difficult minus the structure of mysore classes. Then again, I spent the last year and a half or so practicing on my own, so I know it's possible to get into the routine again. I think it is beautiful in yoga to have daily practice, and that we must continuly revive our self-discipline. I was thinking too, that the only thing worse than acting without awareness is having awareness and not acting, i.e. when I know I need to practice, but procrastinate--as opposed to not having a yoga practice at all. Or knowing that I am upset for an absurd reason, having that awareness, but then continuing to be absurd anyway. Is it worse to have the awareness and not change/ act, or is it worse not to have the awareness at all?
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