So here we are, hot and humid. It’s May in Sri Lanka. Not the best time of year to visit this beautiful island in the sun. Everybody is waiting for the monsoon rains to arrive, and they will – but just not yet. There’s a full moon this week, celebrated as quite an important Puya day. It’s the first full moon following April’s New Year and the locals all say that will bring the rains. Let’s hope they’re right. Meanwhile, we swim in the pool looking up at swaying palm fronds with their King Coconuts clinging to branches. No visit from the local troupe of monkeys this time. We breakfast on the terrace, watching the chipmunks chase each other up the mango trees and the ‘hoppy’ birds chatting and hopping around, in their haste to catch the tasty bugs in the garden.
Each evening, the sun sets over the horizon out to sea and over the road. If we’re lucky, we see the famous golden glow. It doesn’t happen every night but when it does people have cameras at the ready. It’s the only place we’ve been to in the world where this phenomenon occurs. We are unlucky. The cloud cover’s intense. The famous golden light is hidden.
Next morning, the rains arrive briefly during the early hours. A torrential downpour; the air has cleared. Today is the Poya day, full moon tonight. Lanterns have been bought and, along with fairy lights, hung in the garden. On the terrace, milk rice was brought for us and eaten as the first meal on this auspicious day. A visit to the temple is planned for tonight where we’ll arrange flowers in front of a Buddha statue and light oil lamps and offer lit incense sticks. We pass a truck carrying elephants on the way. It’s wonderful how we’re included in the local family’s celebrations. Each visit here we’ve been included, a minority at the temple, but it feels special – a must do when visiting.
Love this place, the peace and calm you feel here is amazing. It’s the perfect escape. You can live simply: eat fresh food, walk along long, beautiful sandy beaches collecting shells and chasing crabs. You can drop into any hotel, along the coast road which runs right around the island, drink a pina colada, and enjoy a meal if you’re hungry. Best times to visit the island are October and November, when the weather’s perfect. Very hot in March and April but, providing you have the right clothes and plenty of sunscreen, there is so much to do and see the heat fades into insignificance.
The locals are friendly with big smiles and generally love to practise their English. They love children – don’t be put off if they want to touch blonde hair, it’s rarely seen out here. You can buy most things in the supermarkets; imported goods cost more than local produce and tend to be from Germany, at least the tinned foods. Eating out is very cheap and an adventure. The other night we ate pork chops with fresh pineapple and gravy, served with chips and salad. It sounded strange, looked strange, tasted wonderful; cost less than ten pounds for the two of us and that included two refreshing local Lion beers each. You can’t get much better than that.