Okay I just love the slightly intriguing entry titles, just to intice you to actually read on in hope of some tittilating gossip, sadly there is none. In fact the heading refers to the multi-purpose Sri Lankan umbrella. All the women here carry them around, using them as parasols in the midday heat and as protection from the random, not infrequent rain showers. They also have a third slightly more clandestine use. In every park, botanical gardens and along the walls of the Dutch fort this morning, you will see young couples sitting together on benches or steps, close together, their heads, presumably deep in conversation, shielded from prying eyes by the ever-useful umbrella. In a country which still views public displays of affection as a cultural no-no, the trusty umbrella shield is about the only privacy a couple can get! If Douglas Adams had spent anytime in Sri Lanka the umbrella may well have usurped the towel as the one item no interstellar hitchhiker should leave home without!
I am growing rather fond of Galle, the crazy old architecture, pot-holed streets, ancient walls and little shops and cafes. I found the wonderfully small and cosy Serendipity Arts Cafe on a recommendation from Jim in the jungle (!) and had my first pot of real coffee in ten days along with banana and honey Sri Lankan pancakes for breakfast. They also have a huge collection of travel magazines and a few photography books, what more could you need? I then walked to the bus station fending off the usual enquiries “Tuk-tuk Madam?” and got the local bus 10km down the road to the beachside village of Unawatuna.
It is quite incredible to think that nearly three years ago this bay was completely devastated by the Tsunami. I was talking to some of the locals and apparently, before the wave hit, the sea suddenly retreated out for 100s of yards, exposing all the fish and corals so everyone was rushing out to look at the spectacle when the enormous wave swept in. There are few traces of the devastation left in the bay now and it’s a laid back beach resort backed with palm trees, golden sands, turquoise water and a white peace pagoda dominating the sky line at the far end. I ran into two of the Dutch girls from my trip to the rainforest and spent the day with them; relaxing on sun loungers, swimming in the wonderfully warm waters of the bay then climbing up to the pagoda to see the waves crashing in on the rocks. As I’ve said before, this travelling is a hard life!