Today is Harrys 15th birthday and we have been here almost two weeks. It feels longer, not because its bad but because we have been to such diverse places and have been doing things every day. We have landed in clover in Polonnaruwa and are going to have a few relaxed days here.
In summary our first place in Negombo was a fragrant garden hideaway but I was ready to move on after a few days. Its more difficult to enjoy a hideaway when you don't know what you're hiding away from. Kandy was lovely, the climate was cooler and breezier and our accommodation was a early last century modernist gem with wrap around balconies. Unfortunately it had seen better days and Hostelworld, our great resource in SE Asia, gets you the servants quarters in Sri Lanka. That has been a bit of a shock, we assumed we could rock up in new places and find somewhere to stay but its not working out like that. We had planned to go to beautiful Uppuveli and Nilaveli beaches for a few days and still could, if we wanted to sleep on the beach. There is not a bed to be had. In Jaffna there was a constant stream of would be guests turned away from our accommodation and believe me, it was no beauty. So we are doing it differently from here and have the next week or so booked which takes the spontaneity out a bit but appears necessary.
Anuradhapura had many unfeasibly large Dagobas but the heat was savage, real life sapping stuff. So onwards to Jaffna on the bone shaker train. The palm trees and paddy fields and anything green gave way to a dry, barren landscape. The city is getting back on its feet, lots of trade and building but my God, its in shite. The Nallur district, where we were staying, had lots of leafy charm having seemingly escaped the bombing but the rest is grim. Our trip out to the islands the next day showed more of the same, what appeared to be a systematic destruction of communities house by house. The light is harsh and its rubbish strewn. The military boat out to Nagadipa was ship shape and there was a joyous, holiday atmosphere out there. The boat back was interesting, the engine cut out about 30 seconds in so we drifted back in to the pier. The Navy man seemed to be ordering us off but the young sailors had other ideas. I'm not sure what was happening but some guy had to swim under the boat and it seemed very important that another tied a string to the throttle correctly. Actually I think that's what happened, the string connecting the throttle to the engine had come away. Not so ship shape. There was lots of looking over the side during the journey too, I think the water is really shallow. Having run our boat aground on my hen party I would have been all over that situation!
So back to what felt more like India than Sri Lanka. We have felt only safe thus far but there was a different vibe in Jaffna. Rosie struggled to understand why she had to wear a t shirt in the sea and the boys didn't. I was probably over vigilant but I could see the way she was being looked at and she is taller than most Sri Lankan women so seems older than she is. But hey its not all negative. Jaffna will return to its former glory if the number of returned emigrants/refugees have anything to do with it. It was hilarious to ask directions in pigeon English ask get a reply in a 100% London accent.
I'm going on, bus to Polonnaruwa, guesthouse was overbooked so we gladly went with the upgrade which is like being in a holiday home in Ireland, if it was 35 degrees. Amazing day in Minneriya yesterday, silently watching elephants silently eating rings around themselves. Very peaceful. Today the ruins were fab, cycled around and could really get a sense of the scale of the place. Went to the pool for the afternoon with Harry , Rosie and Paddy. Poor Joe is sick, we are going down one after the other, glad I brought antibiotics. On to Arugam Bay tomorrow to try some surfing. Over and out. Caroline