We got down to the bus station early this morning after a dirt-cheap breakfast and a hopped onto the bus over to Unawatuna.
On walk down the road from the bus stop we saw a puppy get run over, straight down the middle. I saw it coming a mile off. The guy coming towards us down the road just didn’t slow his motorbike in time, but it slowed enough to be a slightly crueler crippling, rather than killing it outright. It was just trailing behind its mum, sniffing things and rolling about the place, when it suddenly ran out from behind the car to catch her up. It couldn’t have been more than a year old, its underdeveloped little head shrilly squawking and whining as it flailed around on the floor, kicking up dust and limping in erratic circles.
We grabbed a room for the night, dumped our stuff and walked out along the most beautiful beach I have ever clapped eyes on. Idyllic; a postcard-perfect situation. White-washed, open-fronted beach cafes sat amongst the low, lush green canopy of palm and leaf. Craning coconut trees seemed to reach out towards the crescent of white sand, dividing the shady shelter amongst the twisted roots from the turquoise-blue placid bay. I took a dream-like swim in the glassy water and then posted up under a coconut tree, ordered a Lassi and banana fritters and soaked up the view.
Later on we headed out to the peace-pagoda we saw from Galle, intending to see the sun go down over jungle beach later. An hour and a half later, through winding, weaving, unnervingly long jungle path, we finally arrived to see the last of the sunset. On the way, just as we’re nervously starting to realize that it’ll soon be dark and that we’ve walked for well over 40 minutes, we see (or rather, hear) our first monkey.
It’s a loner, up in the trees, howling, grunting, thrashing and swinging violently from tree to tree amongst the canopy. Back in Galle, a nice guy in the YMCA we got a free lunch from had informed us to be careful about lone monkeys. They had either been split up from their pack, cast out, or (in the rarest and most dangerous cases) had rabies. Regardless, they were almost always at their most scared and aggressive in this state.
Its unfamiliar, chesty, deep bark was intensely ominous, and to us western townies, this unseen, upset, cracked-out primate that could well have been half our weight was reason alone to pick up the pace, let alone the fast fading light.
Not a minute after monkey encounter number one is monkey encounter number two. Just as we are having our ‘fuck-me-that-was-an-actual-monkey’ conversation, I look up, and above our heads, perfectly docile, calmly shoving fruit into their mouths is a large pack of them, silhouetted against the darkening sky, not paying the slightest bit of attention to us. It was lucky, we would have been outnumbered twenty-to-one if anything had kicked off. Lucky, they were busy eating weren’t interested in us at all.
The pagoda turned out to be a magnificent, white, bell-shaped beacon of pleasing curves, with cool marble floors and serene golden Buddha statues perched in tasteful sea-ward and land-facing shrines. Before us, against the last of the sunset was a gorgeous view of the panorama west across the bay- Galle, illuminated, still and – ironically – alluring against the orange remnants of light.