Am purposely writing my blog early since I do not want to wind up in the lobby at 11 PM again writing while I get eaten by bugs and mosquitos. Its currently 6:55 PM and I think it is Monday night in Koggala Beach Sri Lanka.
We woke up early since I wanted Olivia to see the “Stilt Fishermen” and take some more photos. We walked down to the beach and over to the area where they were. Olivia was awestruck by them and the uniqueness of this tradition. The sun was not rising behind them, but the light was better than yesterday. I clicked away and took some great shots. Olivia is finding it hard what to publish on my website. I try to have each picture I take tell a story and my photos of this way of life certainly will do that. While we were watching this spectacle, a local man walked up to us and asked us for money. He was very pushy and Olivia became upset and uncomfortable, so we left. Unfortunately, we have experienced quite a few situations like this in Sri Lanka. It was OK to leave at that time since the light was changing to total brightness and I knew that I had already captured the best light.
Onto breakfast and trying to drink hot coffee in “Africa Hot”. Some of my new subscribers might ask “What is Africa Hot?” “Africa Hot” is a phrase that Olivia used to describe the weather conditions when she visited Cambodia with me in 2012. I tried to drink the hot coffee, but only got about five cups into me when I gave out. Five cups is about half my morning consumption. So what do you do after you have had five cups of coffee and its 9 AM, you take a nap until it is time to leave at 10:30. How can you take a nap after five cups of coffee? Its easy. Try it.
Olivia woke me up at 10:15 and we rushed to board the bus for our ride to Galle. Galle is a walled city that has an old fort with its ramparts surrounding it. Galle is located on the tip of a harbor facing the Indian Ocean. Who built it and why? A Portuguese ship accidentally wound up here when a storm forced them to hide in the harbor to protect them from a storm in 1505. The Portuguese finally realized the strategic importance of this harbor and built a fort that was completed in 1587. About a hundred years later, the Dutch arrived and built their own fort after forcing the Portuguese to leave. About a hundred years after that, the British finally arrived and then, you guessed it, threw the Dutch out. The British remained until Sri Lankan independence in 1948. There are lots of shops, bars, restaurants and guest houses within the fort. A city onto itself. By the way, Galle was restored after the 2004 tsunami. Our tour guide gave everyone two hours to explore Galle on our own. We walked top and down long streets and into and out of lots of shops. Olivia did a fair share of shopping. I love watching her shop. She does not treat herself enough. We finally arrived at the end of the fort and climbed the ramparts. We were facing the Indian Ocean and saw why this harbor was so vital. We did notice a local man with a huge snake wrapped around his neck. The snake looked like a Boa Constrictor. I took some shots from afar and did not want to engage him with asking him to pose. We then worked our way back to the area that the tour guide told us to meet at 1:30. Then the heavens opened up and we all got a good soaking. This did not satisfy “Africa Hot”, but we finally got into the bus for our ride back to the hotel. I had previously told Olivia that there is a nice shop at the hotel and she needs to check it out. When we got back a 2 PM, Olivia checked out the shop and bought some more. I knew she would. By this time we were both hungry and thirsty. Went up to the restaurant for a good lunch and some “Lion” beer.
At 4 PM around half the group went to a Monastery to meet the head Monk and ask him questions. We drove for around twenty minutes and then walked up a long road to the top of a hill. We then were led into a small hall where there was a big throne type of area. We had to take off our shoes and the session was being taped by another Monk. Two Monks then walked in. One Monk sat on the throne on a large pillow and the other Monk used a microphone. It was then time to start asking questions. Olivia was sitting all the way up front on a large pillow. I was sitting in the back on a chair. Most of us asked questions about religion, beliefs and the Buddhist religion in Sri Lanka. The Monk with the microphone interpreted the question for the head Monk and then translated his response to us. Our questions got deeper and more complex as we got more comfortable with the scene and Monks. The question of creation was raised by me and I followed most of the response. Also the ability to forgive was another topic that I raised and the responses were harder to understand and follow. I did not necessarily agree and understand most of the Monks responses on all of our questions, but the responses have given me room for thought and growth. By the way, both Olivia and myself have some intangible attraction to the Buddhist religion and way of life. We are both very comfortable in that culture. I have always told people that I cleanse my soul and spirit by going to Cambodia as often as I do. The peace of mind that I feel cannot be described. At around 6 PM we were all invited to have tea with the Monks. The Monk that had done the interpreting had just became a Monk two months ago. He was previously an attorney in Sri Lanka. The head Monk looked like he was 40 to 50 years old, and we were surprised to hear that he was only 28 and had been a Monk for ten years.
We were told that we have a long day tomorrow and will be winding up in Columbo. Our flight back to reality is at 3 AM Wednesday morning from Columbo. Don’t forget, Sri Lanka is 10 and one half hours ahead of everyone in the Eastern time zone of the United States.
Will wrap up tomorrow night and tell everyone my final thoughts and what will stay with me from Sri Lanka