I left you on the road to Weligama, a town on the south coasts hugely popular with surfing enthusiasts. I shall reprise my story:
I had been driving since breakfast and, as the hour hand crept past one o’clock, I started to scan the road for places to eat. It was Sunday and I was on a country road in the middle of nowhere. My quest continued for quite some time with no success.
Eventually, I found a restaurant, parked and approached. CLOSED. .Ffffffuu-iddlesticks! (I was hungry but not yet to the point of profanity).
I did notice a large group of people to the side of the restaurant, so approached them for help.
“Excuse me, do you know where I might find an open restaurant.”
“Not around here, I’m afraid.”
I thanked the man who had answered and trudged forlornly back to my car.
“Wait! We have plenty of food here. Would you like to join us?”
Would I ever! I thanked him profusely and followed him into the house; a house in which 30-40 people sat eating lunch. My arrival, complete stranger as I was, caused some curious glances.
In the kitchen a row of metal, buffet-style containers sat on stands vaunting everything from tikka thru biryani and kottu to curry. I was given a plate and told to help myself. I needed no second invitation.
Having swallowed a little food to stifle the complaints of my stomach, I tried to converse with my benefactor. His English was limited but considerably better than my Sinhalese.
“Is this a family celebration? A birthday party?” I asked.
“No, it’s a funeral.”
I nearly choked on my dhal. “Oh, I didn’t realise, I’m sorry for your loss.” I said, wondering where “going to funeral receptions for free food” ranked among the deadly sins.
My host magnanimously waved away my awkwardness and smiled. It transpired he was a tuc-tuc driver from Colombo. He introduced me to his family and I explained my journey in return.
When I eventually left, I embraced the man with genuine affection. At the most inopportune moment he had taken pity on a total stranger and had invited him into his house and fed him. I felt humbled by the experience.
On arriving in Weligama I explored the beach a little, drove to a cute private kitchen overlooking the sea for dinner then hit the hay.
The next day, at breakfast, I met some of my fellow guests from the hotel. Two of them, Slovenian brothers Tilen and Źiga, were great conversationalists and, by the time we ran out of toast, we had made plans to go surfing together.
Sadly, as my phone is not waterproof and I was concerned for security, I only have a picture stolen from Tilen’s Facebook page to illustrate the experience. I hit the waves twice with them and both times were “Gnarly, dude!”
The more observant among you may notice I have not gone into detail regarding my surfing skills. There is good reason for that.
It was far too hot to surf after around 10am so the brothers and I decided to make a road-trip to Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara, a temple carved into the rock near the town of Dikwella.
The walls of each temple chamber were filled with grotesque images of demons chewing on severed heads and dismembering people – not quite what I’d want if I were seeking nirvana but it takes all sorts, I guess.
The clamber to the summit was worth it, not really for the pagoda on top, but for the wonderful view from the rock beyond the pagoda, as you can see above.
After a great evening surf session (more a wave-pummeling for me, if I’m honest), we agreed to meet at 5.30am for another splash before I headed west. As they say, “With great sleep deprivation comes great reward.”
Bruised, bleeding (I smacked my nose on my board) but happy, I left the water after two hours of fun and failure. The boys and I Facebook friended each other then said farewell and I was off once more.
(The Erman brothers may spot the notable exclusion of my running over a cat. I’m pretending it never happened.)