For a revised version of this post, go here.
Sept 12th, 2009 - I did it. I pulled myself away from la playa de mis suenos (the beach of my dreams.....I think). It was not so easy but I suppose I will manage. I then drove to another beach area known as Unawatuna. Not nearly as impressive. The tsunami decimated this area as well. Unfortunately, when hotels were rebuilt they were literally put right on the beach. It is a shame because the place could be remarkable but as it stands there is barely any room to maneuver especially at high tide. Attention to ascetic detail is nonexistent.
I did stay one night in the area but spent almost no time on the beach. Instead I have been letting my remaining hours drift by in the in town of Galle. The fort town of Galle is a Unesco World Heritage site and was originally built by the Dutch in 1663. The streets of the old town are filled with dilapidated colonial architecture, shops, boutiques, small hotels, and a mosque. Laid back. Quiet. Subdued. Charming. Not a bad place to lose a couple of days. I’ve meandered my way through town and along the fort walls and have thoroughly enjoyed every moment. I have to keep reminding myself that I am in Sri Lanka because this place is unlike all the others I have visited. Stare at the lighthouse from a rooftop café or into the ocean from the edge of the wall. Yes, there are worse places. This is not the place to start your trip but a superb way to end it.
I will say that I have seen very few tourists and the fort seems downright deserted after eight o’clock. Walking around after dark can give one the sense of strolling through an Anne Rice novel. If vampires did exist I have to be believe there would be few wandering the streets of Galle at night searching for a hapless victim. Some of the quiet is due in no small part to Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the significant Muslim population within the city’s walls. For me it is ideal, although it would be nice to be able to find some place to have a drink after ten o’clock. I'll just have to make do with the cool ocean breeze and the haunting call to prayer.
I popped in at the Dutch Reformed Church to have a peak at the floor, which is partly constructed out of old gravestones. Apparently, the bodies are buried in the basement. The caretaker told me why but my difficultly with his accent prohibits me from sharing details.
As I approached the church I was presented with a cow and her calf, a calf she apparently gave birth to minutes before I arrived….in the street. Afterbirth hanging from the mom and shakiness of the young ones steps revealed what had just occurred. Neither mother or child seemed to be in any particular hurry to leave the middle of the road.
The nooks and crannies of the fort walls are a popular place for young Sri Lankan couples to play smoochie grab ass. Find a nook, grab an umbrella for cover, and let the fun begin. As I stood on the corner of one section of the wall I noticed a solo gentleman lingering in the area and looking over the edge of the wall. As I followed his line of sight downward I saw what he was watching. You guessed it, it was one of the aforementioned smoochie grab ass duos. It did not even phase him that I was there. He just continued to leer, and, just to punctuate the lecherous nature of his behavior he was also periodically grabbing his crotch. I looked right at him and exclaimed, “Seriously?” He was undeterred. As I walked away I snapped the photo below.
On the way to the fort I happened to notice a pile of large stingrays for sale on the side of the road. Naturally, I was intrigued so I stopped to have a peak. For 4000 rupees (close to $40 US) I could have treated myself to stingray banquet. I was half tempted to purchase one and bungee it to the back of the motorcycle just to see folks’ reaction. Not sure about the shelf life of a stingray roasting on the pavement of a busy road in the hot sun. I am sure it’s fine.
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'Love me or hate me, but spare me your indifference.' -- Libbie Fudim