In search of surf

Trip Start Apr 01, 2008
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Trip End Jul 15, 2012


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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Monday, February 2, 2009

The train journey down to Hikkiduwa beach was the second highlight after my first taste of hoppers. The railway grips the Indian Ocean coastline all the way down to the South coast and the track is raised so you can look over the houses - one or two deep - straight out into the sea. We ended up doing this journey four times, and each was magical. Sat in the doorway, feet hanging out, tunes on, beach so close that you could smell the fisherman's nets and the romance between the young lovers sitting under sun umbrellas. You could almost touch the coconut palms and Buddha shrines from village to village.

The sea is everywhere. There were many moment of contemplation during this trip, including the realisation that the tsunami had come from this entity so central to people's lives. Only seeing it like that could one begin to comprehend the massive psychological impact it must have had. You'd feel incredibly sad, and then a child would wave like crazy at the train. 

We had a few days on the beach before returning to Colombo to catch India v Sri Lanka Series at Premadasa Stadium. It's hard to avoid sounding smug when talking about a beautiful surf hangout where frolicking in the sea was the only thing that one has to get done by nightfall, so I won't dwell. I pinched myself a lot. 

It took us a day or two to get around to addressing the purpose of being here. We were going to learn to surf, and we were going to be naturals and no more would we have sand kicked in our faces. 

Our first encounter with Sri Lankan surfers confirmed that the essence of a surfer is the same the world over - longboard, long hair, long beer, long spliff, long pauses for thought. The Sri Lankan method of surf instruction is to spend three and half minutes on the beach demonstrating how to get from a horizontal to vertical stance, then to take you out on your surfboard just before the waves break, spin your board around and push you forward as a wave breaks behind you. And then shout 'jump up, jump up, jump up' with more energy than seems possible given the general lethargy, until you do. And the weird thing is that you do. There you are, standing on your board. Unless you're Tom. In which case you don't stand up and, rightly, question why. And spend the rest of the evening drinking beer and demonstrating your push up technique on the floor of restaurants until someone confirms that there ain't no getting up no way no how when you're that tall. Finally, a sport where being a shortarse is an advantage.  
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