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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tsunami and Sea Turtle Rescue

Thursday morning we had our last wonderful breakfast prepared by Chandrani, and then said goodbye to our gracious caretakers and gorgeous home. We were heading to the next chapter of our Sri Lanka adventure.

Hikkaduwa was hit very hard by the 2004 Tsunami. It is just at sea level, so the water swept across the area destroying everything in its wake. Many people, mostly women and children, boarded a train thinking it would withstand the force of the water. It did not, and 1270 lives were lost as the train first rolled over and then was submerged in the wave. Today you can see hundreds of shells where homes once stood.

The Japanese erected this huge Buddha to remind us of the event and guide us on how to live following such a tragedy. Two men visited separately while we were there; it appeared that both had lost friends and family in the Tsunami. This really brought home to me how many were personally affected. To lose your friends, family, neighbors, your home, your source of income, is more than we could be expected to bear. Today the people here are looking forward.

Our next stop was a happier one. At the sea turtle rescue we were greeted by two volunteers from England and Scotland who chose a volunteer stint in Sri Lanka instead of a more typical vacation. When the turtle eggs are laid on the beach, locals either eat them or rescue them to sell to a turtle rescue. These 1 week old babies will be released soon under cover of dark to protect them from predatory birds.
We then had a 200 km drive which took 6 hours to complete. I kid you not. We drove on a narrow two lane road full of cars, trucks, tuk-tuks, motorcycles, and school buses –an interminable trip. We arrived in Kandy tired and pretty much fed-up with car travel. A cocktail made from local Arrack, passion fruit, angostura bitters and sugar at The Queens Hotel cheered us up somewhat.

Dinner was at a place with a beautiful view and quite awful food. We moved on to our hotel, The Ellerton, 18 kms away. Imagine driving down a series of increasingly narrow roads, lanes, pathways deeper and deeper into the jungle, higher and higher up a mountain in the dark. Our driver asked every person he saw for confirmation on our directions, and called the hotel repeatedly to make sure we were not lost. We arrived eventually and were greeted warmly by the staff. My room was gorgeous, but Alison’s was just okay. We negotiated an equally lovely room for her, unpacked, and joined a couple in the bar for a nightcap.
This morning I am sitting in the sun with Ben the Labrador. We have a wonderful view, a lousy internet connection, and a morning to ourselves.

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