A brilliantly unexpected start to our 2019 Sri Lanka adventure.
February 2019: the third edition of my yearly adventure with my best friend. For 3 weeks we leave Belgium and our families behind to explore the world. This time: Sri Lanka! And what a trip it was… it was so good we returned in February 2020 to do “the rest of it”. Jump onboard and enjoy.
Our Cambodia trip thought us that we need to start our vacation with unwinding end getting used to the temperature and humidity. Preferably in a beach setting with no one around us. I know… a big ask, but that is what we want. So, we end up in Kalpitiya on the Westcoast a few hours North of Colombo. The more we went North, the less crowded and by the time we got really close, we ended up in a nice little village. As we were trying to find our way to a place which has no real address, I looked at the dot on Google Maps and us approaching it the right way. At the end of a dirt road, before you would drive onto the beach and into the ocean, we found our little hideaway: “Surfpoint Sri Lanka Kite Village“.
O yes! Let the vacation begin! Any closer to the beach is impossible. The shallow waters right in front of the place are like a huge warm bath tub. Mmmmm… There are not that many tourists, and the ones that are there are waiting for the wind to kitesurf. The locals go about their daily routine of fishing and looking at those transparent tourists with barely any clothes to cover them up.
We didn’t sleep on our two flights during the night and are now determined to stay awake to get into the Sri Lanka rhythm fast. We jump into our bikini’s, put sunscreen on (in hind-side still too little) and get on our way to explore the beach towards the North side. We find a lot of coral that had washed up ashore during a storm a few days before. We see fishermen repair their nets. We are as curious about them as they about us. I can imagine it was quite a sight, two white females in bikini’s walking up to them asking all sorts of questions about what they were doing. There was not much information we were able to pull out, but one of them grabbed his cellphone and wanted to take a selfie with my friend. Afterwards I told my friend that you never know who they were going to show and what they would do with the picture. Big eyes and silence.
After a while I feel a burning heat on my back and tell my friend we really need to go back now and turn our backs into the shade. She looked at me “really, but I still want to reach the end of the beach”. I looked at “the end”. There will never be an end… this is an island. When we arrive at our beach cabin my feet feel burnt, my legs are swollen from the heat and when I push my bikini a bit aside I see a clear line between white and pink. O-o! That will hurt. I pull out my pliable basin and fill it with “cold” water which still feels lukewarm on our feet. We could fall asleep immediately… but need to be strong to get into that rhythm.
When 5 “girls” meet
Our first evening we meet a Dutch female solo-traveler. She heard we spoke Dutch and starts to talk to us. Within a few minutes we already know she had a massage that went in a strange direction: “Is this the normal way of doing massages? That it goes so intimate?” she said. At that time she looked genuinely taken by that event. Little did we know. In the days to come we will get to know her as a special, fun lady with a secret and rapidly changing love life as she moves around the island. She had met two other ladies from Belgium and the Netherlands whom were here to kitesurf, but as there was no wind… they would also be interesting in joining the dolphin-watching-trip we had arranged with the owner.
This was the start of some great days with lots of laughter and the feeling of being young again. Some days to cherish…
Taking dolphin spotting to another level
As agreed the 5 of us hop onto the boat that will take us to search for and watch dolphins. We have the boat to ourselves and the 2 skippers will notice soon enough this will be the loudest and most memorable boattrip they will ever make.
The moment we start to get a glimpse of some dolphins we all get so excited and start to point and scream “there is one! there is one!” “did you capture it!? did you capture it!?”. It almost resembles a soccergame where the supporters are going out of their mind the moment there is a goal about to be made. When I look back at the skippers, I see their eyes have almost popped out of their faces. Clearly, this is not how “normal” dolphin-watching is being done.
It doesn’t stop there…
My friend and I had asked to go snorkel aswell. With our gear we jump off the boat. There is not much to look at down there and the reef seems to be damaged quite a lot. We swim back to the boat and realize there is no ladder to help us embark again. Ok, well, it will work just fine right? How difficult can it be? Very difficult! I don’t even succeed to get halfway onto the boat. I feel like a fat whale. One of the skippers wants to help, but is not sure which part of my body would be most appropriate to touch. He grabs one of my arms and start pulling. My lifevest doesn’t slide as easily over the edge of the boat as we wanted. So, one of our new ladyfriends takes action and cares less about what is appropriate, grabs my other arm and my crutch and starts hosing me in. Disabled without free arms I see the floor of the boat getting closer. This is really like hosing in a whale or sea cow. It is so embarrassing it becomes hilarious. My friend who is still in the water was laughing her ass off, until she realized it was her turn and I had grabbed my phone to start filming it.
The two guys couldn’t wait to jump ship when we arrived ashore, and run to their friends. I see them laughing and making a lot of gestures. It is clear what they are explaining.
Little green tuktuk adventure
The beach check, the sea check, the dolphins check, make a fool out of ourselves check… now we want to see the surroundings and the local life. So we arrange a little green tuktuk and we explained as good as we could what we wanted.
He takes us further North passing the mangroves, showing the wind turbines full of pride, the lagoon and takes us to a place where the fishermen are cleaning their catch and make it ready to be transported to Negombo. We are intrigued and stare at some jellyfish and some little fish stuck into their transparent bodies.
“Take us to the village! We want to shop.” Our driver takes us to the closest village. It actually only has one real main street. By the time we got here the tuktuk breaks down. The driver is extremely nervous and we feel sorry for him. “Don’t worry, take your time. We will be strolling around here.” We buy some snacks from a nice old gentlemen. No idea what he said, but pointing and giving money did the trick: we had snacks for a reasonable price. We stick our heads in the open door of a barber shop. And then …. we see a clothing shop… o yeah! We want to buy some scarfs. The moment we entered we see the male shop attendants get all excited and big smiles appear on their faces. The scarfs are upstairs and we definitely find what we want here. One of the scarfs doesn’t have a nice border like the other ones. No problem! The salesman takes my friend with the hand and drags her behind him, downstairs, through the back door, to a little shop of one meter wide stocked full of lace and other shiny embellishments and finally to a tailor across the street who sows the rim onto the scarf. It could have been a kidnapping as we didn’t understand what he wanted to say, but it was just an efficient way of getting things done! Later on we will send some more people to this place with the message to refer to the “Belgian ladies”.
River cruising with a twist
The idea was to visit Wilpattu National Park and go there by boat. But something is wrong… There has been a flood in the park and the jeeps with visitors are cut off from the South entrance, which we would also be using. Everyone is focused on getting the visitors out of the park safely and back home with a huge detour from the North entrance. It is all so well organized that I have the impression that this happens once in a while.
A bit disappointed, but clearly there is not much that can change the situation, we look into options. As the boat was foreseen for us, we decide to take a boat ride and explore the park from the river that makes its way through that nature reserve.
First we take a tuk tuk, jump onto a boat that brings us to a madeshift harbor and get into a second boat. We need to cross the lagoon on a shabby boat. Hope we won’t get into trouble, because swimming towards one of the shores will be quite an undertaking. On the way back we are laughing… the motor stopped, the skipper jumps out of the boat… and stands in shallow water of half a meter deep!
It is a Poja day and people are having a day off. They spend it with their family and they go on excursions. Families are dotted on the rivershores enjoying their day off, swimming and waving at us.
Around lunchtime I see a very nice and cosy place with a family having fun. I instruct the skipper to let me descend to see if we can eat our lunch here. I was immediately greeted by a nice lady and I see the boss of the family approaching me. Before I was even finished with my question we were all welcomed into their family party. Music is playing, a madeshift BBQ, pots of food, a group of teenagers in a tree… We are instructed to sit down and a plate is pushed into our hands. Food is served! “We have lunch with us. It is really nice, but you don’t have to!” The head of the family doesn’t want to hear it and we enjoy the nice meal. After lunch it is time for fun. He takes a microphone, connects it with bluetooth to his phone, puts YouTube on (they have better coverage here in the jungle than we have at home!!!) and starts singing along with what seems to be a wellknown Srilankan song. “Now you sing a song from yóur country!” Hilarious! He might regret it afterwards, but we type in a Flemish schlager with a melody they will appreciate. We start singing “De Marie-Louise danst op en neer… Ze gaat dwars door de woeste orkaan… En de huilende wind… Gaat weer wild tekeer… Maar de Maaaaaaaaaaarie-Louuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuisssssssssse zal nooit vergaan…”
We will never forget this day of BBQ with karaoke in the middle of the jungle.