Peace among the palms at Surya Garden

Trip Start Oct 26, 2007
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Trip End Oct 26, 2009


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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Monday, January 7, 2008

The other night I walked into the back garden of my current guest resort to gaze at the bright stars against the dark blue clear night sky.  The stars were brilliant.  They made me wish I knew the constellations, even just a little bit!  I can always pick out the dippers.. but I'm oblivious to everything else. 

The fireflys in the garden added to the star-scape, and another guest and I were laughing when she told me she was convinced she saw shooting stars, until she and her husband realised they were seeing fireflys!  It was such a beautiful sky. 

I sat at the end of the garden where it turns into sand before the wide open silky beach at the back of the place.  I have been devoured by mosquitos and other bugs, don't like to think too much about what types of bugs they might be!  Sitting in the garden in the pitch black, I noticed bigger things flying around.  I thought the bats migrated every evening, but it appears some of them hang around to dance in the starlight.

So far I've spent three weeks in Sri Lanka... and this last week has been like heaven on earth.  Heaven briefly turned into hell the other day when I was swimming in the ocean.  The ocean here has waves that surfers would travel the earth for! Huge.  I was playing the waves, waiting for them to crash in, and then pull out.  The water pressure surging in and out was tremendous.  Well, I was careful, and doing fine, until a huge wave came much closer than the previous ones, and hit me. I went under and swallowed some water.  When I came up for air another big wave socked me and I went under again.  I had the classic "wait a minute, I am not ready to go yet" reaction, as well as the "holy moly.. this could be it" realisation.  I had a brief thought of drowning.. but didn't entertain it for long.  I bobbed up again and luckily caught some air instead of water that time.  I swam to shore, and shakily got out. 

All types of thoughts were swirling around my head, here on the spot where the tsunami claimed thousands of the 40,000 total lives in Dec 2004.  The stories I have heard from so many people, their particular story of what happened to them. The next time I went in to the ocean I have to admit I was more than a bit jittery.. and I've been swimming like a granny ever since!  I'll be fine when I go into a less boiling sea, but until then I'll play it safe.

An Italian man, Franco, who was staying here for a couple of days, was at the beach one day.  This was the day after my near-death experience.  I watched him swimming.  I had just finished theorising to my new friend Martina that the secret of swimming in those waves may be to dive into them, and come up and out on the other, more gentle side.  No sooner had I shared my theory than I watched Franco standing in the water, waist deep, waiting for a gigantic wave to tower over him, and he dove straight into it.  He popped up the other side, looking mighty pleased with himself, and repeated the process at least 20 times!  Part of me envied him, and another part thought he was crazy!  But he proved my theory. 

When we all spoke over dinner the following evening, he said he felt like a child again in the waves.  I think the secret lies in that fearless childish approach somehow!

I originally was going to stay for two nights here at Surya Garden, but I have fallen totally and shamelessly in love with the place and extended my stay to seven nights.  Another guest, Martina, who hails from Vienna, Austria, found herself alone for five days after a friend left early.  Finding we had loads in common, we became great friends and went on to explore the surrounding area, having different adventures every day. 

We were invited to a local family's home for lunch one day.  The mother's son, Amilla, was married to a German woman, Ingrid.  She spents part of her time here in SriLanka, and part of her time in Italy, where she manages a theatre group.  (Check it out at www.dekadenz.it

We went to Amilla's family's house for a special SriLankan lunch.  The food is so spicily scrumptuous.. I love it.  Most SriLankans tone down the chilli and really hot spices for their foreign visitors.. but my tolerance for hot stuff has increased since my travels started.. and I am loving SriLankan food.  

Rice is a staple at every meal, including breakfast!  Lentils make a tasty dahl, and vegetables like potates, pumpkin, ladyfingers.. are all served up in curried fashion.. so flavourful and tasty.  I have been avoiding fish and all meat, on my travels.  I feel a bit rude when I say no to fish, but the simple truth is I cannot bear dealing with bones, wherever I am in the world!

The fish here is divine, and is the main industry in Sri Lanka. You may have seen images of stilt-fisherman, men balanced on wooden stilts in the ocean with a fishing rod.  Can you imagine the meditative skills needed for that job!  Or the cramps you'd get!   

I have ordered the occasional prawn curry, and I always forget that in most places in the world prawns come to your plate complete with head, antennae, and legs.. eeeeeeek! 

You would think I am old enough, sophisticated enough, and travelled enough to not run screaming from the table when a fully dressed shrimp appears on my plate, but I just can't deal with it

At one place I actually offered to pay for another dish if they'd just take the critters out of my sight, but fortunately the waiter offered to take the plate to the kitchen and remove the offensive pieces.  He brought back shell-less, antennae-less and legless shrimps. 

I made the same mistake (I must be getting old) at a lunch spot just the other day.. the shrimp were mixed in with the rice.. eyeballs, hairy antennae and legs akimbo.. ugh ugh ugh.  I picked out the bodies, and ate the rice.  It's embarrassing admitting my peculiar preference, but people are so kind, they hate to think you've been offended.  You gotta laugh.
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