Day twelve: It's time to explore the southern beaches
Day twelve: It’s time to explore the southern beaches
After an amazing journey through the mountains and waterfalls you have finally arrived to the world-famous beach side of Sri Lanka. In the morning you will head towards Mirissa/Dikwella Beach while enjoying the magnificent view of the Indian Ocean. Mirissa is a delightful sandy beach that was a well-kept secret in the past, but now more guesthouses, inns, and bungalows are opening up to visitors. Mirissa beach is also characterised by a sea free from rocks and coconut palms growing right from, the edge of the sand as if in imitation of a postcard of the perfect tropical beach. The most popular attractions in Mirissa/Dikwella are Kalamatiya bird sanctuary and the fish harbour.
Things are a little tense this morning after yesterday’s fiasco with the hotel. The rural areas we pass are like a blur and I’m really not too sure what to expect, particularly when the itinerary isn’t that informative. After being in the central and highland areas of Sri Lanka for the best part of a week, I’m looking forward to relaxing for a day. Perhaps this is the day to do that.
After about an hour-and-a-half, the driver’s phone rings. I don’t think I’ve mentioned the driver and his phone or phones in past posts. They ring constantly and he is often answering whilst driving, but more often pulls over to take the call. Every time we stop, he immediately calls someone. Perhaps he needs to let the tour company know where he is. On this day, however, there are indications that he is lost. Fortunately, he pulls over next to a café, and I step out of the car to take some photos, returning some minutes later to find Tom has disappeared from the front seat of the car.
I see him at the counter of the open-air coffee shop, hopefully ordering coffee. I arrive to hear Tom talking in depth to the two young men behind the counter. Judging from their very puzzled facial expressions, I realise that they have no idea what he is talking about.
‘You know, there’s nothing between you here in Sri Lanka and Antarctica,’ he says. One of the lads shrugs his shoulders and looks expectantly at Tom. I wait. I wonder whether he is going to explain it further or order coffee. ‘I’m glad you’re here,’ he says. ‘Tell them about where Antarctica is!’
‘I don’t really think they care, Tom. They are employed to take orders, not get a geography lesson in a language that is almost alien to them.’ One of the lads hands me a scrap of paper, and I attempt to draw the concept that Tom is trying to convey. They politely grin and wait.
‘One cappuccino and one flat white, please,’ I say. I walk away and step out of the little gate, which is hanging on one hinge to get an unencumbered view of the coastline. To the right of me is a small peninsula, tall palm trees standing like sentinels along the horizon. A perfect tropical photo.
There are coconut trees in the small garden of the coffee shop and I notice that they are much smaller than usual and I can see where the yellow coconut fruits are forming. These appear to be a different species to the ones I can see in the distance, but they would be handier for people harvesting the fruit because they wouldn’t have to climb up to cut them down. This dwarf variety provides a high yield in only three years, which is perfect for a country that relies on a lot of coconut in their cuisine. Drinking the water from the coconut is also nutritious and is high in electrolytes.
The coffee arrives and we sit at a table in the shade. Today’s sun is penetrating and we’ve left our hats in the car, where the driver is hopefully making all of his daily calls. The young man also hands us a docket, on which he has written ‘Dikwella blow hole’. We thank him for his advice before taking a mouthful of coffee.
‘This doesn’t taste like Lavazza,’ says Tom. I agree because it actually tastes like Nescafe made with muddy water. However, after converting the cost of the coffee back to Australian dollars, we realise that we have been regally ‘ripped off’. We’ve spent $12 on two ordinary coffees. I force mine down, whilst Tom sips his delicately.
The Ho-o-maniya blowhole is probably the only attraction in this area, and, according to the Lonely Planet, it is only really spectacular during the monsoon season in June. I think we’ll give it a miss because if I want to see a blow hole, I want it to be spectacular every time a wave hits it. Onward to our hotel, then we’ll make up our minds what we’ll do this afternoon after we get the taste of this rotten coffee out of our mouths.
Instead of travelling in the same direction, the driver ‘chucks a U-EE’ and speeds off in the direction from which we had come. He is still playing with his phone. Stops. Calls. Continues.
‘Are you lost?’ I ask as we slow down, check an intersection, then continue. I pull out the phone, google the hotel, and get Google maps up before losing the signal, rendering the phone useless. A short distance ahead, we see a sign advertising the hotel and turn in the direction of the arrow. Stop. Call.
Whilst the driver has stopped to make yet another call, I get out of the car, remove my computer, and return to the back seat then ask him to wait until I get a connection.
Once connected and with my phone using the same network, I connect to Google Maps. The GPS directs us to go ahead for seven kilometres on the road we are on.
The driver does a U-turn. I think, that if a tuk-tuk suddenly appears, I’d remove myself from this situation and get a ride to the hotel. But we appear to be in the middle of nowhere.
‘Could you please follow the directions?’ Tom says.
‘No, there is a better road this way,’ says the driver. ‘I’ve just been speaking to the hotel.’ Now something isn’t making sense here. First of all, we are lost, then when we see a sign and turn down the side road, which is a fairly good one so far, our driver suddenly doesn’t want to go that way. I’m sure that it’s because we have basically usurped his authority by using the GPS. Finally, Tom convinces him to continue with the instructions from the GPS, and we are soon on our way. Of course, the road worsens after the next village, and to be honest, I cannot understand why these hotels don’t pay for the roads to be paved. But, it is what it is. Twenty minutes later, and after rattling on one of the worst roads we have been on to date, we arrive at the Sooriya resort. Like all hotels we’ve been in since starting the tour, it is secluded, and this time, so far away from anything, we do feel rather isolated.
With our previous experiences with the accommodation in mind, Tom asks to see the room before we move our luggage, and whilst he is away with the hotel staff, the driver reports our activity to whoever is on the other end of the phone. I think he feels uncomfortable, because he now realises that we are asking for the appropriate rooms, as per our itinerary. Tom returns and we settle into our lovely room overlooking the pool in the direction of the Indian Ocean. We know that we’re not going anywhere today. This place is too far from civilisation. Here we are again: prisoners! But in the nicest possible place. Our room is very beautiful and a rest day is very welcome.
As I read through the day’s itinerary, I realise that apart from when the driver got lost and stopped outside the café, he had not offered to show us the Mirissa or Dikwella beaches. Perhaps he is as sick of us as we are of him. Anyway, today’s little glitches will be soon forgotten as we laze on our more-than-adequate balcony and enjoy what our hotel has to offer.
After all, tomorrow is another day. (Margaret Mitchell 1936)
TOUR: Across the Best Sites of Sri Lanka - Capital Lanka Tours
ACCOMMODATION: Sooriya Resort and Spa, Tangelle, Sri Lanka. https://www.sooriya.com/ Beautiful accommodation, excellent dinner and breakfast