Sri Lanka. Aromatic Island Tour
As soon as I got off the plane, the atmosphere of the island swallowed me up. The air is fragrant, moist, but not stifling. Solid wall of coconut trees with clusters of orange nuts under a lush crown. The crash of Tuk-Tuk’s motorcycle carriages and the sound of klaxons are numerous cars – the capital of Colombo did not notice at all my arrival. I receive my luggage, change three hundred dollars to a plump wad of local currency and leave the airport building on the street. I look around, I see a sign in the crowd meeting with the words “Mr. Andrey Rudakov. Boris is in Russian, of short stature, a constantly smiling man, with an incomprehensible degree of knowledge of the Russian language, he received at the Timiryazev Academy in Moscow two years ago.
Sri LankaTut I get the first instruction on behavior in public places of Sri Lanka, given, rather, in a pleading tone: do not smoke on the street, women do not wear short clothes and do not expose their shoulders, do not swim in the ocean, do not photograph the inhabitants of the local fauna without asking how much they appreciate it, military police, administrative buildings, each other’s back to the statues of the Buddha. The prohibitions are caused by the near-war situation on the island, the suspicion of tourist espionage and religious feelings (which was still understandable – Sri Lanka is a totally Buddhist country). You can only photograph flowers with impunity – because of their indefinite social status (there are so many that they devalue themselves, despite the beauty and the amazing, incomparable smell) – and crabs on the coast if they manage to catch up. It turned out – impossible!
Boris assures that these rigor apply only to Colombo, it will be easier in the provinces.
While waiting for the bus that will take us to the hotel, we sit on a concrete bollard and my girlfriend is a little bit annoyed about lighting a cigarette, saying that her hiking wardrobe was not completed in accordance with local ideas. “Hammer” – I answer, anticipating the upcoming journey.
Finally, the driver appears, throws our belongings in the trunk, and we drive to the hotel.
Sri LankaColombo-Continental Hotel – a pompous multi-storey building with elevators, decorated in the best traditions of the chambers of Indian maharaj, only baleen gatekeepers with curved sabers, in turbans with a tassel, is not enough. The room is very decent, clean, the crack through the ceiling does not want to pay attention. The minibar is equipped according to all the rules of non-drinking Lankan hospitality with miniature bottles of whiskey, arrac and Stolichnaya vodka. We were pleased with two huge 0.7 ml sweaty bytyls of Indian beer “Leon”, but I do not drink beer. The double bed was covered with a plaid of such an area that they could cover the football stadium somewhere in Manchester – we barely found its ends, tucked deep under the mattress. There were endless Bollywood movies about love on the TV, and outside the window in the courtyard of the hotel there was a great pool and a gum-pool – a gym, which I visited immediately as I unpacked things.
There was an hour before dinner, and we decided to take a walk along the embankment, which was across the road.
There were almost no people on it, except for a group of suspicious personalities from the locals, and a girl of European appearance with a player in her ears, making an evening jog along the embankment back and forth. A friend decided to approach the water, but she didn’t manage to roll up her trouser legs and descend the stairs, as a warning whistle sounded – a soldier of the National Guard who came out of nowhere with a Kalashnikov gesture demanded that we return to the embankment – you cannot walk on the sand opposite the presidential palace!
Sri LankaNa, okay, it is impossible so impossible. But we saw such a beautiful sea sunset, that we forgot about everything in the world, what is happening around. The sun somehow quickly descended, hovering above the water, the horizon turned red, and the foam seemed pink on the waves crashing against the shore. Then came the darkness. As I left, I once again turned towards the sea — luminous dots were running along the coast in the foam of the surf — hundreds of crabs went out for a night hunt.
The dinner turned out to be delicious: continental and local cuisine, desserts, fruits, fresh juice, coffee, tea with spices. I liked everything so much that I had a bite – I approached the buffet three times, took a new plate and put it on a heap, leaning on Sri Lankan dishes: bean dal, crab curry, chicken with rice and pepper, grilled lamb, corn buns, mango and sliced watermelon. The staff looked with horror, not understanding how all this can be eaten ?!
… I can’t sleep for a long time, I lie down and listen as the waves of the Indian Ocean hit the stony shore. The voice of the Sea is similar to the sound of a car rushing through puddles – an approaching rustle, a sharp hiss and again a rustle that subsides in the distance. … early and early morning, I sit in the restaurant hall, have breakfast. On the tables around the convolutions of black satin napkins are like Taoist monastic hats. Quiet music is playing – sad, beautiful melodies from old movies. Behind the glass wall, a hotel attendant draws a coconut bud and pink flowers that fell into the pool with a net.