One of the best things, and also one of the absolute worst things, to happen to me whilst travelling. And all in one post!

30 Mar

Next morning we found that Rosie still had selfishly not given birth

She surely must be about to any minute though :) We had the breakfast of champions (toast and Marmite) and headed off for a quick swim. We got on the bike to go and see the nearby Buddhist temple, but Craig hadn’t got long trousers on so according to the sign we weren’t allowed in. The road to it was very pretty and decorated with Buddhist flags

We thought we’d go for a bit of a wander on the bike and drove round “inside”  as the locals would say – anything that is off the Galle Road is referred to as Inside (as opposed to Beachside). If you want to say go round the back, it’s Backside, which never fails to amuse me.

We also saw this man carrying a bedframe in the best way possible – I told you they don’t take anything on buses here!

We went to see England play Sri Lanka at a pub in Hikkaduwa; glad to see they’re up to their usual glittering form. Thanks for making everyone laugh at us when we say we’re from England. Cheers. We enjoy that.

After a quick bite to eat on the beach, we went back for a nap before going back to see Pathum, his dad Silva, his mum Nonny and his sister Delinda for dinner. We brought a bottle of arrack with us, knowing it was Silva’s favourite, which he poured out in thankfully thimble-sized glasses, mixed with ginger beer. We sat outside and watched the sunset, chatting and eating fried tuna with squeezes of lime juice and poppadoms. Lovely. In true Sri Lankan style, after every sentence Silva instructed us to eat. So it would be ‘I’m just going to the kitchen. EAT!’ ‘I used to work as a fisherman and before that I was a tailor. EAT!’ ‘If you come back to Sri Lanka, you must stay with us. EAT!’ I think we were force-fed an entire tuna but it was yummy.

After a couple of hours we were pretty tired and said we should think about leaving…to which Silva replied, ‘But we have dinner now!’ Yep, more food. Delicious coconut rotties, dhal and tuna fish curry (guess we hadn’t eaten the whole fish then). We could only manage about half before we were in danger of exploding! He also gave us a pineapple in case we were in need of snack on the way home. So generous (he didn’t want any money for the drinks or food and also gave me a new needle and thread after I lost mine to fix one of my skirts) and a great evening but we are becoming more beachball-like every second! I think we’ll have to eat at least seven Thai meals a day to feel full after this :) We arranged to meet Pathum the next day to go to the carnival in Ambalangoda which should be fun.

Craig got woken up by me, having not slept at all so I was already awake, at 5.15am the next day as he had arranged to go fishing with one of Ajit’s friends. He got up and had a shower, looked at the weather which was thundering and lightening out at sea, and said it was too dark and he didn’t want to go. Then he looked at his ipod and worked out that yet again, I had forgotten about the time difference as we are still on Bangkok time. That meant it was actually 3.45am. Ooops. I was already in his bad books because the day before, when I asked him whether he had the keys, he made some kind of mountain lion noise which I took to mean yes, so I locked the guesthouse door behind me. It turned out that ‘Grrworrrrlllll’ did not in fact mean yes, it meant no. And Kumari did not have a spare key to the room. So Craig, wrestling with a hangover from the tree party the night before, had to clamber onto the hot roof tiles of the extension, try and unscrew the bars on the window with a bent screwdriver, remove them and then climb in. I inexplicably found this hilarious, which I am sure didn’t help at all.

However, Karma is a force to be reckoned with and once Craig had gone back to bed last night, understandably grumbly, I nipped to the loo only to find that the only toilet paper left was a little bunch on the side that we’d obviously nicked from some restaurant or other. Once in the bowl, from the middle of the bunch, a live cockroach ran out of it, furious and plotting my tortuous demise. Oh, the horror. I flushed the loo, but no, he still glared defiantly up at me, his nasty little legs thrashing around and getting angrier and angrier. I tried filling up a bucket of water and poured that on him whilst flushing – his expression said ‘Keep going, this is only making things worse for yourself. I’ll start by BITING YOUR EYES.’

Finally I got the empty roll and fished him out into the bucket, sprinted across the room whilst simultaneously trying to protect my eyes, not be sick or wake Craig up, chucked the enormous bug and the cardboard roll over the balcony, and sat in a blisteringly hot shower for 20 minutes. Practically crushing one of Earth’s most disgusting creatures into intimate areas by using cockroach paper is not how I’d usually choose to start the day. Excuse me whilst I bathe in bleach.

Anyway, Craig enjoyed fishing and although he only caught crabs (:I) and two coral fish, he had a really good morning on the catamaran. We had breakfast and went off on the bike to Kosgoda to see if we could arrange to release the baby turtles they look after there back into the sea (which they do every day) the next day. We eventually found the place and they said yes so we’re really looking forward to that.

On our way back, we bought some rope to try and make a swing for Ajit’s daughter, Atma. She’s only three and has two older brothers who are into cricket and boy things and we thought it would be nice for her to have something to play with. Twenty metres of rope cost about a fiver and we found some wood in Ajit’s garden, so Craig and I set about trying to make one for her in the boiling heat. Craig came up with a clever system which meant that the ropes could be lassoed onto the very tall coconut tree (chosen for the angle it was growing at and also because it is right outside the kitchen window so Kumari can check on Atma as the girl has no fear). Atma came to help, beside herself with joy at the thought she was getting a swing

 

And finally it was done. She was a little shy at first but we showed her how it was done, and she went and got Kumari for a trial run. Kumari was also delighted as she explained that by absolute fluke, we had managed to help them celebrate the Sri Lankan New Year (13 April, Craig’s birthday) in style – swings take an important place in the New Year festivities. A large swing is tied onto a strong tree so that all the women and children can join in the fun. They recite special verses which are known as Varang Kavi – swing songs – and our choice of red rope was perfect as that is a sacred colour for Buddhists.

As soon as Atma joined her mother on the swing, she started singing a swing song to Kumari.

Her mum got off to rush and invite the neighbours for a short impromptu pre-New Year celebration. The nearby houses’ women and children all came round and sang the swing song together whilst Atma and Kumari swung, followed by the other women and their children. A really lovely moment and one that made us feel like even more part of the family. Atma loved her new swing and insisted that I got on the swing with her too, and she started singing to me, throwing her head back and laughing all the time. Things like this makes me really sad we’re leaving for Bangkok in a couple of days!

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