Monday, July 30, 2007

The Beach on Poya

So I went south for the weekend, to the beach. Well, technically, not the beach, but a lagoon inland of the beach where we could do "water sports." This apparently is a big deal here and so I thought I'd check it out. Plus, it was a sort of going away party for Felicity and she made all the arrangements.

I was an add-on to the trip, not because I was an afterthought, but because I was out of town and thus couldn't respond until Friday. So I didn't leave Colombo until Saturday evening as the only seat available was in Doherty's car. Doherty, a German woman, had friends who just arrived Saturday, so she hired a car to take us all down to the beach. I felt a little sorry for her friends because the inclusion of me in the car meant speaking English and being slightly squished. They did just get off a plane, that could not have been that much fun to them.

Anyway, the drive is supposed to be about an hour and a half. Maybe half an hour outside of Colombo traffic started to get a bit tight. Then it stopped. Oh yeah, its Poya tomorrow. Now I believe technically Poya is really only one day (there is only one actual day of full moon, right), and that day was Sunday, not Saturday. But for some crazy reason, some random town decided they would hold there Perahera on Galle Road (basically, the only road south and quite busy) on Saturday. Nice.

We tried to drive around it, but everyone had this idea and soon the small village roads were jammed also. The villagers were enjoying this, probably the most activity these roads have seen in a while.

So we gave up, went back to Galle Road and decided to enjoy the Perahera. It was very short, only about half an hour. The costumes and tricks were not as impressive as the Perahera in Kataragama, but still nice to see the whole thing again. The elephant costumes were crazy looking. The main temple elephant looked like Super Elephant with her ears encased in slippery looking material.

For those of you who don't know (and I didn't before I got here) Poya Days are celebrated on the full moon each month and they are a day for devout Buddhists to visit the temple, fast after noon and abstain from entertainment and luxury. They are public holidays in Sri Lanka, so when they don't fall on the weekend, we get the day off from work. Most places are closed on Poya, so you have to be prepared beforehand.

Anyway, we did eventually arrive at the guesthouse in Aluthgama. This coast was hit very hard by the Tsunami and tourism is down anyway because of the current civil war, so what was a very touristy area is now a very depressed area. Our guesthouse, a cute place right on the lagoon where we rented all four of their rooms, hadn't seen guests in two weeks. I know this because we actually asked the owner if our incessant ringing of the waiter bell from our little gazebo by the lagoon that night was irritating them (we needed ice and they would only bring a little at a time). The owners response was, "They haven't done anything in two weeks so they shouldn't be bothered." She is trying to sell the guesthouse at the moment, but there are no buyers.

The next morning we got up early to eat a three hour breakfast of omelets (I had the "Sri Lankan" version with chilies and tomato), toast with homemade pineapple/papaya marmalade and fresh fruit (passion fruit, banana, and pineapple). Oh, and coffee. It was lovely, very relaxed.

Then we headed to the watersports. The big thing is wakeboarding, but as everyone was hurting so much from the day before and it was quite expensive, I opted out. Wakeboarding is a combination of snowboarding and waterskiing. I did do the donut. We would call this a tube in the U.S. Anyway, they attach it to a motor boat and swing you around the lagoon. I did this as a kid and remember having a great time, but now that I'm old, I didn't find it so enjoyable. I felt like I was going to topple out the entire time (come to think of it, I felt that way as a kid, but the thought was thrilling then). My arms hurt today from how tightly I was holding on. Now the question is, why was I concerned? I mean, once it was all over I flipped out of the tube to get back to shore, so why was I concerned about flipping out while being pulled. I have no idea.

It was a lovely, very relaxed weekend. When we returned to Colombo I walked home from Galle Road. I hadn't actually planned to do that, but it was the official Poya Day (yes, we got stuck in another Perahera on the way home, but it didn't delay us all that much) and the buses were crazy full. I'm talking people hanging out of the door. I wasn't even going to attempt it. I thought about getting a tuk, but as they were in high demand, they were asking ridiculous prices. It was a nice evening and even though I had my bags, it was a pleasant walk. I live fairly close to a very large Buddhist temple, so I could see some of the activity there on the way.

Tomorrow I leave for Knuckles. I'm pretty excited, we have a really good paper making program there that should be interesting to see. Plus, Jodi is coming and she is really good at getting people to talk, so I should learn a lot.

I'll leave you with this lovely photo of mangosteens. Yes, mangosteens season has officially begun and I couldn't be happier!

1 comment:

Jen and Dima said...

I love mangosteens!!!! I became totally addicted to them traveling in Indonesia. Unfortunately, the only way I can get a taste of them around here is by going to Smoothie King. They make an excellent yogurt smoothie with mangosteen syrup. Please eat some for me!