Friday, November 12, 2010

Sigiriya Nature, Drive to Colombo

Late that afternoon, I went for a walk on the dirt road outside the hotel. Monkeys sat on the branches of the large trees that looked like a tangle of vines and flowing roots. Others were busy trying to find mangoes that were at least somewhat fleshy. Although I didn’t know what lay at the end of the road, I hoped to see at least a clearing in between the trees; perhaps I’d see some elephants in the nearby fields. Alas, a local on a motorbike told me to turn around, because wild elephants had been spotted there yesterday at that time. Knowing that wild elephants can be unpredictable and dangerous, I conceded and walked back to the hotel.

The next morning, I woke up to pattering and thumps on the roof of my room. Looking out the window, I saw langur monkeys jumping between trees and onto the roof. Like the monkeys I saw yesterday, they were enjoying a morning snack of green mangoes. It was interesting to watch, but I don’t know how long that novelty would last, particularly early in the morning.
I left Colombo just before 8am, headed for Colombo, the final leg of my trip. The drive was through a large number of towns and villages, some still rather sleepy, and others already adjusting to morning activities. Once again, I saw mosques, churches, Buddhist temples, and perhaps a Hindu temple on the same street. Farmers were busy in the muddy paddy fields. Multiple workers were busy using a large hoe-like tool. A few used tiny garden-size tractors with hand controls and special metal wheels protruding from the rubber ones, designed to work in the paddy fields. Children in their crisp white uniforms were already at school, some gathered around the shady trees in the schoolyard.

The road was shared by lots of buses, pimped-up rickshaws, Massey-Ferguson tractors, pulling wagons of people, colorful trucks pulling loads of veggies, coconuts, and other produce. Spanning the width of the road and tied to the trees were large signs of politicians. Like in Tamil Nadu, these politicians must have loved to have seen pictures of themselves. Alongside the road, men were whacking grass with a tool the size of a golf club; a lawn mower would have been SO much faster. Signs announced the names of towns, along with its elevation, and not its population.

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