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Second Day in Paradise!

January 24, 2008
Helen – Well almost…I just wrote about last night and today and was getting to the last three lines when the computer lab lost power – and I lost my diary!!  Now I know that I have to save every paragraph so I won’t get caught in this predicament again!!  I will now try to remember what I wrote but I have to admit my frame of mind is not the same as it was a few minutes ago.

Last night when we returned to the beach house the workers were still there cleaning (??) and getting ready for us.  We had spoken to the owner (whom we thought was here in Matara but is in fact in Colombo) and he said that we were free to use anything we found in the house.  Well, when we returned, they had left the bare essentials (dishes, utensils, glasses, clean sheets on the bed) and removed everything else (towels, food, spices, pots and pans, and cleaning essentials).  We called the owner again, must have spoken to him at least 8 times because the helpers don’t speak English (except Kamala who knows very little and has trouble with our American accent).  He said to go over to the 2 bedroom bungalow where they had taken the stuff and take whatever we wanted.  So we got pots and pans, towels, more sheets but no spices, etc.

We were glad when they all left and we could reorganize things ourselves.  We were pretty tired since we had been up since 4:30 that morning but we unpacked a few things to get ready for bed.  I washed the wardrobe down which is in the second bedroom and aired it out.  This bedroom has two single beds.  All the beds have massive carved feet about 12” off the floor, a solid wood base (full or twin) and a foam mattress.  This room has two windows with one facing the beach, and one outlet.  I decided to use this room as my dressing room and spare room for suitcases, etc.  It also has a small bathroom with a shower stall and we will be using it for a guest room (Ruki our guest house owner promises she will visit) when/if we have company.  Meanwhile Tom was organizing his office and getting the phone line working.

Our room has a larger bathroom with shower stall, a double bed, small dresser and clothes rack on the wall (both Tom’s).  I noticed that the mattress was pretty lumpy.  So we took off the sheets and turned it over, put two bottom sheets on and then remade the bed.  It was much better now except it creaked whenever we turned or moved.  We took cold showers tucked ourselves under our net and went to sleep.

 

Today – We woke up about 6:15 and could hear the waves rolling in.  After getting ready for our walk (I was finally able to wear shorts and tank top since we were on the beach) and then opening the patio doors – our breath was taken away!  The back yard slopes down to the gate which leads to the beach and is full of tall leaning palm trees.  The stepping stones make a curved path to the gate and both sides of the yard are planted with flowering shrubs for privacy.  To the right of the stepping stones at the base of the patio is a large pond and then the landscape slopes up toward the beach to another concrete patio with concrete picnic table and chairs, a concrete structure which resembles an outdoor grill of sorts without the grill, and then a wooden slat platform deck for sunning or sitting and watching the ocean from a height.  There are outdoor lights along the fence and on the patio for evening entertaining.

We went down the stepping stones, opened our gate and walked the crescent beach which is about 0.67 mile in length.  At each end of the beach are small rock headlands and then beaches on the other side of them.  We walked our beach and looked for seashells but none were to be found except for a few broken fragments.  In one tidal pool we did see one sea urchin and some small crabs scurrying sideways.  We met two runners and a couple of fishermen; and saw two little boys squatting on the beach near the foliage having bowel movements.  You would be proud of us because we did not take a photo!!  They just continued doing their business as we walked past them.

After our walk, we had breakfast on the patio at the picnic table.  It was nice to be by ourselves for a meal, the first in three weeks, without someone looking over us or having to make conversation.  We just had Total with bananas and finally low fat milk, orange/cranberry juice (after mango for two weeks), coffee and mandarin oranges.  The breakfast was simple but the view magnificent.  Back to the real world of doing dishes and cleaning up (didn’t miss it for the last three weeks!).  Worked on cleaning the kitchen some more and washing the inside of cabinets and shelves because we were going shopping later.

Living room looking out front door

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Living room

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Living room looking toward back of house, kitchen and driveway entrance

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Living room looking out toward pond

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Owner’s parents pictures in entrance way

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After cleaning the kitchen I began putting clothes and things away and trying to get organized.  I had to rewash the wardrobe and lined the shelves with plastic shopping bags before putting my clothes on them.  This took several hours and by that time I was getting sweaty; what better excuse to go into the water for a swim.  The water was really warm and the waves had a gentle roll to them.  I stayed about 40 minutes and then came inside for another cold shower; I have to admit it really wasn’t all that bad if you turned the water on quickly to get wet, then shut it off while you suds up, then turned it on again to rinse, turn it off again while you shampoo your hair, turn it on again to rinse, and most important is to shave your legs outside of the shower!!  Couldn’t use the hair dryer again because the outlets are different which means we will get another adapter.  Got dressed and was ready to go shopping and to the university.

While I was doing all this, Tom was still working on his office.  By the time he showered and dressed it was noon, so we had to look for something to eat on the way.  We found a bakery just down the street on the main road and got a fish and potato pastry, a hard boiled egg pastry, and a sugared bread roll.  We ate it in the store and will probably return for those fish pastries because they were actually good even though they sound gross!!

On to the dialog phone store again…the instructions are terrible and Tom needed help for a few functions on our phones.  Across the street there was a little store which sold our KIT card for the phone minutes (we are going through them like hotcakes).  It is just five cents cheaper to call locally than it is to call the states and like home they charge for in-coming and out-going calls.  Thank heavens we now have a house phone, so people can call us here first before calling the cells.

Next stop was the local green grocers on the circle in the middle of town.  Their prices were higher because we were foreigners so we returned to the Food City where everything is labeled and pretty cheap except for juices, soda, and other imported things. I will include a quick price check for the few things we bought.  Beer was cheaper than soda and better for you with the electrolyte content…so, I am getting to like beer!

 

The Sri Lankan Lion Lager Beer – 625ml, 4.8% alcohol, cost $0.75, $0.23 bottle deposit, for a grand total of $0.98 – and it’s good!  Nescafe instant coffee is about $4 for 100g (boy do I miss my café lattes), lowfat milk is $3.80 gal, mandarin oranges are $.63/lb, leaf lettuce $.63/lb, tumeric powder 100g for $.38 (this is the greatest bargain), limes $.27/lb,  tomatoes $.30.lb, basmati rice $. 50/lb, and dried garbanzo beans (I always bought them in a can) $.70/lb.  So tonight I was going to cook Syrian eggplant mousacca.  We loaded the non perishables into the car and headed for the university.  Tom is getting to be pretty good at driving and honking his horn and passing in that invisible middle lane.  I had to help him with his parallel parking on the busy street by getting out and telling him how close he was to the motorcycles parked behind him.  People were looking at us a little strangely, but hey, we didn’t want another motorcycle accident!!

At the university we looked at an office in the physics building which they are going to set-up for us.  This building is better for us because they have better computers and Kanthi’s (the physics professor who is Chair of the Sport Advisory Board and speaks great English) office is nearby.  The room is presently a disaster area used for storage but will be cleaned and will have two desks for us by Monday or Tuesday.  So I went back to the lab where I worked and Tom to Kanthi’s office where she had a faster internet connection.

 I was working on this email and just got to the point where I was ready to sign off when the power went off and I lost my document.  I was beside myself and the student sitting two seats down just looked at me in astonishment.  I asked her did I lose everything and she replied yes if you didn’t save it.  You have to save every few minutes in case this happens.  Then I remembered telling you about the power outages when we needed our headlights and could have kicked myself for forgetting.  I figured I may as well go to Kanthi’s office but couldn’t find it.  I walked around and up and down some stairs and kept passing the same two students sitting near by.  I just looked like I had forgotten something and walked back to the lab, well, couldn’t find that either.  Next plan of attack was to find the car and go from there; thought I saw it and took a short cut across some grass which then took me up this hill, through some bushes and brought me back to the same two students.  They looked at me pretty funny so this time I asked them for directions except I couldn’t remember Kanthi’s last name and they didn’t speak English.  They started rattling off some names and I recognized hers.  They took me to her office and I couldn’t wait to get home.  Anyway, I am writing this at home and will copy and paste tomorrow.

Coming home I was ready to cook dinner and see how I fared.  First I had to scrub the wok and little pan because whoever used them last left them dirty and crusted.  Then I had to Clorox the lettuce, rinse it with cold boiled water and let it drain (no spinner), Clorox the eggplant, the tomatoes, the limes, the oranges; forgot that I first had to rinse and sort the garbanzo beans and start cooking them because I had no idea how long they would take.  Back to the meal, fried the eggplant, then the onions, added the tomatoes, returned the eggplant back to the wok and cooked it on top of the stove (usually bake in oven for about an hour) to simmer.  Now remember that the prep was done in the inside kitchen and the cooking in the outside kitchen, did a lot of running back and forth to stir and prep.  I think that I will start getting used to prepping and cooking outside.  I had hoped to eat outside on the wooden patio but it was already dark by the time I finished. Tom enjoyed eating without worrying if it was too spicy and I loved having salad again.

After cleaning up, I sat on the wall and watched the white waves roll onto shore in the dark until Tom was ready to let me have the computer.

We thought this was going to be a peaceful place…we have no TV (and had just installed cable for our renters back home), no radio either BUT a new hotel open for business today and they are having a party with loud music.  I hope this doesn’t happen every night.  I won’t be writing for a few days because I have to prepare for my walking class so you will have a reading rest from this diary/novel.  I am trying to beat Michener for volume!!

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