Searching For The Fishermen
Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
144Trip End Ongoing
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Stilt fishing is a dying art that is threatened by the very fact that it is so unobtrusive and therefore extremely picturesque: tourists visiting the area get attracted by the sight of the stilt fishermen, stay close by, wade in the sea, in short, do all the things the fishermen have been trying to avoid for decades – namely disturb the fish. There are many who suggest that it is already a dead art and the only stilt fisherman left are those who pose for tourists and charge for each photo taken. With Tina B feeding my delusions of skilled photography, I was making it a mission to capture one of these fisherman digitally (although having had our fill of photo posers, it had to be one of the genuine articles).
Our first stop was the town of Mirissa. No pole fishing but we did jump on a boat to do some more whale watching (apparently the Blue Whale, the largest in the world, was in the neighbourhood). While we did see a few blow holes, we ended up being more fixated on the bad behaviour of the boat operators- rather than whale watching, it was whale chasing, and every time a whale surfaced an entire fleet would chaotically race over for a look which, of course, drove the whale back under very quickly. I hope this is just a problem that will be resolved as the industry matures but at this point we wouldn't recommend whale chasing in Sri Lanka and it didn't appear that many others on our boat enjoyed the activity.
On our way to Unawatuna, we did pass a number of stilts that, by sheer coincidence of course, were positioned at the points where the roadway was closest to the ocean
We also stopped in the visit the old town of Galle, a fortified Dutch colonial village. Galle is the best example of a fortified city built by European colonialists in south and southeast Asia- it's a world heritage site and the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers. We didn't even find the phony fisherman who would pose on a pole for peso's (although we did run into some guys who said, if we paid them, they would dive off the fortress walls into the Indian Ocean below- we passed on their bizarre offer).
So I wasn't successful in tracking down one of The Sri Lankan stilt fisherman but if our loyal blog follower stays patient I'm pretty sure I can get Sid H to prop himself up on a wooden pole in the middle of the Tottenham Pond once we're back in Ontario. Stay tuned.