Last Night in Paradise...

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April 30th 2012
Published: April 30th 2012
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As many mornings went spent with David and the Frenchies, we began in usual fashion- coffee and beach. This particular morning, I felt particularly energetic. It was before 7 am when I went on the beach to practice Muay Thai. I was the first one awake. Doing anything on the beach makes almost any experience better. Muay Thai was no exception. I moved as the waves approached and retracted. There was a meditative quality to the thunderous crashing of the water upon the shore. I felt a part of everything, of life, of nature. I remembered that I had my very large camera and heavy tripod. I had to get some more use out of them. I set them up on the beach and began filming myself doing what Master Danny had been teaching me to do. We all spent the rest of the morning on our own. I sat down at a table and caught up my blog. David, Audrey and Marion spent time on the beach swimming, sunbathing, relaxing. David went for a run. Maybe it was the realization that it was our last full day as a foursome, but for some reason, there was a feeling of disconnection between all of us. Maybe it was the fact that we spent so much time together. It permeated our dynamic throughout the rest of the day into the evening at Hikkaduwa. I'm not sure the reason. I can only say that from my end, I was sad to see such a wonderful trip winding down. It was the people that I met that made this one of the best I had ever experienced. I could travel with this group indefinitely, anytime, anywhere, and we would enjoy each other's company and the associated experiences. Whatever the cause, it would displease by the evening and we would again be fast friends and killer travel companions. We packed all our gear by 1030am and headed off to the bus stop for our ride to Hikkaduwa. I really wanted to head to the peaceful streets of Galle and see the stilt fishermen. The others wanted to goto Hikkaduwa. I had planned to leave for Galle on my own and meet up with them later in the day. David really wanted to keep the group together and didn't want me to leave. I would tell the group that night that I would decide in the morning. Of course, I didn't go. How could I break this quartet up? After a quick breakfast at a cafe near the bus stop, we waited patiently in and around the bus for 40 minutes before departure. Two and a half hours later, David and I were back in Hikkaduwa, the girls, for the first time. We found a hotel next to where we had stayed. It was more upscale than we were used to, but for eleven dollars a night, it was a welcome change. I just wanted to settle in as quickly as possible. David and I grabbed a beer at the bar as the girls settled in their room. We all met in the lobby and searched for a place to eat our late lunch. I wanted to go back to the Moonbeam Inn, a place David and I had eaten before. Our last experience wasn't so good, but the setting bar and patio were well designed and I suspected that we ordered wrong. I was right. Our lunch was really good and so was the coffee. We initially sat right at the edge of the porch closest to the water. But as the skies darkened and wind increased, we moved underneath the canopy. After dinner, I wanted to buy a ring. I don't wear jewelry or watches, lastly because I tend to lose EVERYTHING and also because it wasn't necessarily my style. But I felt like putting a ring on my finger. We all decided to do some shopping as a group. I went into differ jewelry stores in search of my ring. The girls offered their preferences from time to time. In the end, I finally found a jeweler that would make me the ring I wanted for the price I wanted. They would deliver it the next morning before I left for the airport. I hoped that it was a real blue sapphire, with real gold and silver. I guess I won't know until I get home. Maybe it's better not to. We got split up as we shopped. The girls on their own, and David on his own. I ran into David back at the hotel. He had run into the girls. They wanted to share a last drink together, so they went off. David and I decided to do the same by the beach in front of our hotel. We sat and talked on stools, recounting best parts of the trip, our thoughts on what we learned, and our plans for the future. It turned out the girls were doing the same at a table 10 meters away. We kept separate and let each other alone. We went back to our room to shower up for the big bad final beach party at Mamba, the hotel we spent three nights in earlier in the week. I spied a DJ set up earlier, and was very excited at another dance opportunity. I drew up a map of where we were going to be and slipped it under the girls' hotel room door. It had a picture of us four all holding hands at Mambo. I laughed. Mambo was dead when we arrived. David and I did run into Marco, who met earlier in the week. We sat with him, ordered a delicious pizza after seeing his, and had a few beers. The girls showed up shortly thereafter, looking refreshed, relaxed, and very cute. The group vibe that linked us all the entire trip returned. We were the Four Musketeers again, plus Marco. Although I didn't spend as much time with Marco as the others, I considered him an adopted part of the group because he seemed like a genuinely good guy. The evening started off slow, but people eventually trickled in and the music started. There was a group of four locals sitting behind us, all men. I could feel the stares of one of them, but ignored them. When I got up to goto the bar for more drinks, he approached and commented on my body and tattoos, and asked me to dance. I politely declined. I had been getting this kind of attention the entire trip. So had David. I suppose they weren't used to seeing a tall, white New Zealander and a tatted up, slightly muscled Asian. He was drunk and over friendly. His friend apologized for his behavior. I laughed it off. He pointed to his arms and said I was well muscled, which is why his friend was curious. I laughed it off and said it was okay. I jokingly asked the girls to be my security the rest of the night. Marion was enthusiastic about the role reversal. She immediately approached their table and chatted them up. I told David that maybe she needed security. They surrounded her like vultures. We eventually separated and Marion told me that she took care of it, whatever that meant. I thanked her, laughing. The guy was obviously drunk. He continuously tried to intrude on a particular pair of men playing a game on the dance floor. They obviously wanted to be left alone, but he persisted. David was afraid that he would get punched by the Englishmen. Marion had to absolutely dance. So did I. But the drunk local prevented us from hitting up the floor. Marion and I finally gave in after she heard a song she really needed to dance to. We hit the dance floor and let the music control our bodies. Intermittently, we left because drunk local guy came near us. He was seriously hampering not just our good time, but the times of many other people at the other tables. Finally, he did something really stupid that could have gotten him hurt. He approached Marion at our table and asked her to dance. She politely declined. He persisted, grabbed her by the shoulder, put his face in her hair, and smelled her. I quickly but gently grabbed his neck and pulled him back. I briefly wanted to punch him in the face, but I didn't. I motioned for him to leave. I had enough. I walked towards the bar to talk to Baba, the manager. Earlier, I had a short conversation with him about the drunk guy. He apparently had one more chance to behave before getting kicked out. As I approached the bar, drunk local guy grabbed my wrist, I pulled my arm away, glared at him as I walked. I told Baba that he had out his hands on my female friend. He was tossed out. Now the fun really began. Our entire table got on the dance floor. The other tables followed. The DJ was pretty damn good. Though I don't usually listen to techno, I couldn't stop dancing. No one could. Beads of sweat formed slowly at first. Shortly thereafter, I was dripping in my own sweat. We met a really nice married couple, but their names escape me. He was from Toronto, she from England. But they were both living in Dubai. We chatted with them all night, on and off the dance floor. Everyone was having a ragingly awesome time. The vibe at the party was so positive, exciting, passionate, full of energy. Dancing had always been like a drug for me. But it was something I did not do at home. This was the second dance party I had experienced in Sri Lanka. I shut my eyes and moved in ways I had never moved before. It was pure joy and ecstasy. We all bonded even tighter. It was the very last night of our journey together and it was a memorable one. I will never forget it. We made plans to have our last pot of coffee together the very next morning at 730am my taxi to the airport was at 830. Audrey and Marion woke us up in the morning at about 745. We were in a deep slumber, crawling into bed at 3am that same morning. We met them at a table by the water. My ring arrived and it was beautiful. I was fearful that it may not be real. I thought about getting it checked out back in DC, but may not. I took some final pictures and we remained for the most part, silent. I was quietly forlorn, but put on a smile, as I had been doing the entire trip. A part of me was very excited to return home and start my life over again. My driver arrived and we said our goodbyes. I gave Marion and Audrey big bear hugs, picking them up off the ground. David and I hugged as well. I think I will miss him most of all. Although our time was short, he became one of my best friends, something you can never have too many of. We will see each other again, I am sure. The trip was a success. My spirit was recharged, reenergized, reinvigorated. I was ready to take on the world, to change it, to make it better one person at a time. I will never ever forget it.

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