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Published: September 2nd 2018
Last day at work and we drove back to the centre. Although it was Saturday there were some children in the tiny little school Anton had pointed out the day before. We parked up and I asked him to walk back down with me and ask the teacher if I could say hello. In fact, the teacher spoke very good English and the students understood me perfectly. It was the poorest school I’ve ever been in, one room, basic wooden benches and tables. The teacher, who’s been there 4 years, was very happy for me to go in and ask a few questions. The students were 16 and studying history, of the British period in Sri Lanka. Very sorry about that, I said, and they all laughed. They were giggly and excited I’d gone in and it didn’t seem intrusive. I asked if I could take a couple of photos, no problem. Those poor kids though, I could have cried at their circumstances and the teacher with such limited resources, although there was a whiteboard at least!
We finished and set off at 11. I’d foolishly thought it would take 3 hours to get back to Colombo but hadn’t checked.
It took 5 1/2 as all the roads were small and the first 3 hours was spent on very windy roads going downhill. Not that that prevented overtaking and other crazy behaviour. It was absolutely exhausting just watching it. The traffic was constant and I am so fed up of the driving. The scenery was stunning through the tea estates and mountains with waterfalls along the way but there was just too much of it! Lots of little families and some small children on their own trying to sell a few avocados and other fruit. They must make virtually nothing. The road had lots of landslides, with huge rocks which had fallen from the hillside. You really wouldn’t want to be driving past when it happened! They are trying to shore the slopes up with nets but the problem is huge, miles and miles of it. In one place the road had had to be diverted around it. See pic. We crossed over the railway a few times. It looks an amazing journey. Worth noting, Nuwara Eliya station is way out of the town, so if you plan to arrive it’s probably best to arrange transport with your accommodation from
there beforehand, although there were a lot of tuktuks waiting.
We stopped for a cuppa in a tiny restaurant but it wasn’t really OK even by my minimal standards so we didn’t stay but Anton asked if I could use the washroom. They said yes and said to go out and down at the end of the building. It was one of the most challenging ever to get to, down a steep slope with sort of steps made out of car tyres and a few twigs to hold on to. I had the wrong shoes on for this kind of mountaineering. The little family who owned it watched with fascination (except for the 2 year old who screamed when he saw me and hid behind his mother) and at the bottom was a shack with a squatter inside. It didn’t smell at all. Back up the hill, Anton refused to try, he’s not in the first flush of youth!
We stopped further on, a slightly better option but I wasn’t going to risk the food, just a cuppa and a banana, 30p each. I was still in my work clothes so felt stupidly overdressed. We got stuck behind
a Hindu procession, which wasn’t one of Anton’s better overtaking decisions, as we ended up right in the middle. The men in the procession who were directing the traffic around it indicated not to go, but he went anyway and the followers had to squish in for us as there was already a huge lorry coming from the other direction. There were mini cranes with men suspended, partly held up with hooks through their skin, no blood apparent, similar to Thaipusam, although that’s in Jan/Feb. I googled and found that it’s called the Panguni Uthiram festival, they do it in this month and to bring them good luck and make all their wishes come true. It looked brutal, like some kind of punishment, but all the followers were very smiley and dressed in their best.
Finally arrived in Colombo at 4.30, checked into the Cinnamon Grand for the third and last time, out for dinner at the Galle Face Hotel again with 3 colleagues who are staying on. It wasn’t too windy so lovely to sit by the sea. 2 colleagues had just arrived and were very impressed!
Home tomorrow. What an experience!
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