Up, up and away. Up through and over the big puffy clouds where santas reindeer play- I whimsically look for the shadows of whales in the sea below.
Sri Lanka went by fast. It’s so funny- when you spend months away on end- it starts to feel like the end will never come and then, in the blink of an eye- it’s all over and your homeward bound. Sri Lanka is undoubtedly beautiful, interesting, and a place to return to. I would have liked to spend a bit more time in the interior but the coast was aptly rewarding.
One night while we were having sunset drinks a huge mama sea turtle swam up out of the ocean and started making her way to the tree line. The server at the restaurant made an announcement requesting that we ignore the turtle so that she will lay her eggs. He said- “She is tired, she has swam a long way, she is pregnant lady- give her some space.” Turtles pilgrimage back to the very same beach they were born on- sometimes 1000’s of miles to reach their mark. This beach was just an empty piece of beautiful coastland until about 2-3 years ago. So its no surprise that this is the third turtle we have seen enter the beach in the past few days. Raja, the man advocating for the turtles said this one is about 20 years old. We were very happy to hear someone spreading smart ideas regarding peoples behavior around the turtles as the night before the coast guard was spot lighting them and letting people smoke near the newly hatched young. Turns out turtles aren’t all that Raja cares about, he is also an avid conservationist for whales and dolphins and runs one of the best whale watching tours in Mirissa- taking care not to scare or chase the whales so that the blue whales will continue their year-round patterns around Sri Lanka.
There are also HUGE lizards here in large numbers. Some were black and yellow and 2 meter/ 6ft long! Monitor lizards, iguanas, chameleons, and several other species I did not recognize were all over the country side along with the peacocks, kingfishers, eagles, crows and ginourmous bats flying across the full moon. Justin and I even went to a snake farm! It’s a snake conservation center and snake bite treatment center. We watched in awe as the man tamed the cobra that was striking and hissing at him only minutes before. We got to hold multiple snakes and see some scorpions and tarantulas.
Despite sone of the wildlife being poisonous- Coconuts and traffic were the biggest dangers- unannounced a coconut would plunge from tree to roof several times over. We were fortunate to not be hit by any- however it’s definitely a risk. I suppose rip tides and waves breaking really close to shore are also some things to look out for.
The one thing I wish for Sri Lanka is to not become too overdeveloped. They have an extraordinary landscape and are in the face of a budding tourist economy but you already see large parts of jungle being torn away to build more guesthouses. I hope they can take a nod from Costa Rica- and preserve their Eco-tourism, put limits on land development, and extend the longevity of their natural beauty. I also encourage travelers to always carry their own water bottle and a filter. Sri Lanka drinks their water from the tap and only began “manufacturing” water due to the demand by tourists. Knowing what we know about plastic and it’s ever growing presence in the world I believe it’s every traveller’s responsibility to leave a place better than they found it. So try not to use plastic and leave no trace. The plastic bottles are only being brought in for us. I am hoping to draft up these thoughts and send them to the department of tourism of Sri Lanka to encourage them to preserve Sri Lanka’s natural beauty as that is the big draw for tourism moving forward.