April 1st – Away from the coast

This morning saw my first proper caffeine cravings in the humid, overcast heat. However, these were quickly dispelled by the presence of an electrocuted monkey laid out in the middle of the road- probably not unlike the one we (didn’t) see yesterday- having taken a stroll down the wrong power cable above our heads. Jet black fur, elongated claws, bulging eyes and teeth-filled mouth agape, it was marginally less intimidating than the specimen from the previous night, in its dead, stiff state, but nonetheless, stimulating enough to give me the shivers and thus rouse some endorphins in me.

I emailed my parents, succumbed to my epic, week-long struggle to resist logging onto Facebook and chatted to Gary, the sarong-wearing Geordie Brit we met last night after getting in from our monkey-dodging session. He had run the bar here for the last couple of years, flying home every six months to re-register his voting ballot, see his mum and water the plants. He also mentioned something about Marmite, but I was too busy concentrating on the thought of running this spot for two years. Tranquil I guess, but not my thing. He pointed us in the direction of the knowledgeable bar owner over a game of pool on the crappy, sea-air ravaged table, who was able to give us some sound, local advice about the up-country area.

Do it, was basically the vibe we got from him. Buy a raincoat and do it.

Without further ado, we checked out of our guest house, caught a bus back to Galle, then another to Akkuressa with another change from there to Deniyaya. The beautiful, windy road up there cut through rice paddy fields, lush, green banana-leaf jungles, narrow bridges and tumbling streams. As we approached the start of the Hill country, the roads became more of a reddish-brown tinge, the streams faster and the air cooler and fresher with each tight corner we took. Riding through the picturesque tea plantations with their neat, dark-green rows faithfully hugging the contour-lines of the hill, we were greeted with increasingly isolated villages and friendly inhabitants, crowds of children jumping and waving up to the window forming a gaggling sea of brown faces and grey tattered clothes. The tea-picking Tamil women looked on from the wings through their improvised basket-straps; a Saree draped across the forehead, skillfully tied around their baskets and often brought around their front to secure a small child during the day’s work.

Deniyaya is a modest, cool, cloudy town with clean air and a close proximity to Sinharaja forest reserve, where we head tomorrow. Apparently, it’s full of leeches and very wet.

***

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