Alicia got to Sri Lanka last weekend. We were together for two days, and then she took a trip to the field while I stayed in Colombo for a bit. We met up in Trincomalee, but only after I took an 8 hour night train.
Eventually my train pulled in, and after rushing around frantically, I was shown by a beetle-nut red-mouthed man my first class cabin. The description said that it would be air-conditioned. This was a lie from the pit of hell, which makes sense I suppose when tickets for such a long train ride are only $6. There were two bunks, with a shared bathroom (see the door on the right in pictures), with a hole for a toilet through which I could see the railroad ties. Fortunately I did not have to share the room, but as I laid down a massive cockroach (they come in sizes) scuttled down the wall and over my pillow. I tore off my sandal to kill it but it was too late, so, after staring out the window for a bit, I laid down on the oily sheets and tried to sleep with my roomate.
I woke up with calls for Trincomalee at 6:10AM. Meandeared over to my hotel, and slept for a few hours before my wife joined me. That day we went to the local fort, which has changed hands between the Dutch, Portuguese, British, and French maybe a dozen times. Admiral Nelson called the Trincomalee harbor the best natural harbor in the world. We also went to a hindu Temple.
We then took a walk along the beach, which as beautiful, but growling slum dogs kept popping out from behind beached fishing boats to push us into the ocean, where there were millions of sharp fishing bones in the sand, especially vertebrae that seemed like tiny invisible sea urchins, and they got into our sandals—a strangely stressful experience, but an interesting one. These slums were right next to beach resorts.
We then made friends with a local man who could explain to us what foods were good to eat, I swam to a rock outcropping, and it was beautiful. But those pictures are on another camera.
The next day, we went up North to Nilavelli, Sir Lanka’s most famous beach and was often visited before the war. Now it is starting to come back. After eating lunch on the beach, we took a trip over to Pigeon Island, which as beautiful and
Alicia and I on Pigeon Island
has, we are told, some of the best snorkelling in Sri Lanka. It was Alicia’s first time snorkeling and it was a success. We saw corals, sea urchins, dozens of different types of fish, but probably the highlight was the sharks. We saw several blacktip sharks, one just over a meter long, that came right at us before veering off at the last second. I was clutching Alicia so she would keep me safe!
Afterwards we took a bus home for $3.60 each. It came up as I was buying some local treat, and the folks outside yelled at us “Colombo! Come! Colombo! Come!” We jumped on board and were crammed together for 8 hours, perhaps 2 of which Alicia had a man leaning over her with his crotch more or less in her face, but besides that it was fairly good, though we were glad we brought ear plugs. They like their Sri Lankan jams!
Now we are back in Colombo.
BTW, thanks for all the feedback all over facebook on my civil war post. It has been very interesting reading.