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Goodbye S.K. Town, Hello Stilt Fishermen

March 13, 2008

Tom – Last Morning S.K. Town Beach – We were up at 6am, beach walked, said goodbye to the locals, breakfast on the patio feeding the fish, frog and crabs in the pond and packed the car (did I ever, how are we going to get the pottery, shells, Fibretec dishes, gifts, etc. home?), showered, paid the rent (Kamala brought us curd in a pottery dish and snacks for the car), visited briefly with Kanthi (brought us a Sri Lankan picture book in English),

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Nicole (gave her food items we could not take) and Rachel (gave her the turtle shell and some eggs), stopped at the ATM and started the drive to Colombo at 10am. 

View driving into Matara on our way to Colombo

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It took us 4.25 hours of tense driving to reach Colombo.  That’s 96 miles averaging 22.6 mph and it feels like you’re going 50-60 mph.  You drive on the left side of the road (remnant of 150 years of British rule).  I have to constantly remind myself of where I should be on the road, especially when turning.  There are very few traffic signals (even in Colombo), probably because most drivers just slow down and proceed through.  Most roads are one lane in each direction with pot holes and other unmarked road hazards.  It is not uncommon to have a bus, truck, motorcycle and bicycle coming directly at you – yes, it’s like a wall coming at you and it might even be as you are going around a curve!  I have had to pull off the road many times, providing there is someplace to go.  Sometimes I stop as far left as possible and hope someone doesn’t hit me.  In traffic, it’s the law of the bumper – if you get your bumper in front of someone else, you can cut them off.  Three times my side view mirrors have hit bicyclists/motorcycles who have moved into me.  There are also parked vehicles, Tuk-Tuks, people and animals on the road and/or on both sides of the road.  Buses are the worst; they just blast their horns, flash their lights and pass into oncoming traffic.   You just have to get out of their way.  To make things worse, Helen is constantly putting her foot through the floor and yelling “Oh my God!”

On a lighter side, I did get a few pictures of the stilt fishermen today.

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Kids getting out of school in small town

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Helen – I was so glad to get out of that car!!!  I am glad that the morning was rushed because my mind was on something else, rather than leaving.  After the walk, Tom had to walk to the corner store to get milk for our cereal and coffee.  I meanwhile threw the sheets in the washer and began sweeping the floors.  The advantage to having a smaller home with few things in it is that these chores are quickly accomplished.

 I had my last swim in the ocean with Nicole and Rachel yesterday afternoon and Tom had his last swim just before dinner near sunset.  We have gotten into the habit of watching the sunsets from the plank deck sitting on the wall.  They have been beautiful.  Earlier we were haphazard about it and now wish we were more serious about it.  They have been magnificent with the palms silhouetted against the sky.  It was also nice shaking hands with the people on the beach.  Usually we just wave to each other and say morning or “aayu-bowan,” but this morning the handshake was more personal and we told them that this was our last day here.  It has been fun seeing them each morning and when we were away, they always were glad to see us again.  The tides have been getting stronger and will continue to do so until the rainy season comes in another month.  With these stronger tides, the beach has been swept cleaner and it reminded us of our first days on it when everything looked so pristine.  We originally planned to return here with Tom’s brother, Pat, when he visits in April, but we may change our minds and explore the northern beaches which we have not seen.

Returning to Colombo and Ruki was almost like going to a parent’s home.  They were awaiting our return with clean rooms and open arms.  Tom returned the car to have his door repaired (remember that palm tree incident?) and to leave it there while we are in India.  That week rental should pay for the repairs!!

When he returned, we watched an Indian film, Earth, about the bloodshed (over a million people died) and changes that took place when Britain granted India independence in 1947.  The British rule was over and now the internal religious groups were fighting for control.  Sri Lanka won its independence one year later from Britain.

Not wanting to go out for dinner, Ruki and we ordered pizza!!!  It was our first since we came and we couldn’t decide whether to get Pizza Hut (they have Dominos also) or another called Harpo (which her daughter prefers) so we got one of each.  What a treat!!!  I liked the PH Hawaiian pizza with pineapple, but must admit that the other one which was more like a folded pizza (calzone) was really tasty with the spinach and mushrooms. Our tummies were full and satisfied as well as happy!!!

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