Jay got in at almost noon from Colombo as I checked out and headed towards Kalum’s place. Kalum lives in a small village in Hiriwadunna, Habarana. He organises village tours or experiences rather, for those who wish to experience it. This was one of the gifts Jay gave me hence I don’t know how much it costs, but it’s an experience I wouldn’t forget so easily.
Kalum, who lives with his family, was kind enough to let us keep our bags at his home for the night as we both packed light for our over night stay in the village.
Finally the confession arrives that the chef had though that I was this tourist who can’t tolerate spicy food but she did place a small plate full of fried dried chillies! Guess who was happily scoffing them down?
“We’re going on a go-kart after this”
“Really? A go-kart?? Wow!”
How did they manage to get a go-kart in this place? Like seriously? Here I was thinking that after lunch, we would race down in our go-karts to the lake and take the little paddleboat across. Yes, I had this picture of me strapped into a go-kart speeding my way on the red earthen road, racing along with Jay in tow… until I saw two bulls attached to a pull cart. JAY!!! When she said go-karts what she really meant was bull carts. What was I thinking? Why would they have go-karts as part of the village experience! Silly me.
On the carts we went, with the gentle sway and the bump of the stones, we were on our way to the lake. The sights and smell registered well into my brain. The smells of sweet blades of cut grass, coming from the paddy fields, and smell of the cow, swatting away flies with its tails, and the smell of fresh clean air was permanently booked and shelved in my head. It’s the smell of childhood to me, growing up in a suburb that was once ever so clean and green, which is now over developed and nature slowly depleting, I ride brought back some memories.
Now at the edge of the lake another farmer was waiting for us on a little paddleboat. Oh, before I forget, my tuk tuk driver accompanied us on this journey since Kalum couldn’t see us this far, he sent Darkshana as ‘security’. Talk about being treated like a V.I.P.!
After a short manoeuvre around the lust growth of the lake, we got to our little tree house, in front of a plot of farmland. It’s not a big clearing but a rather small one, where they grew paddy, onions and beans. We were greeted with herbal tea, served in coconut shells, nature’s cup, with jaggery one the side. Jaggery is a type of palm sugar, commonly found in Asia, where its used in making desserts, sweets and sometimes in drinks. It’s custom here that you bite a little jaggery before you drink the tea. You might think it’s better to mix them in the cup with your tea, but no, it’s better doing it this way.
We took an evening stroll with another fellow farmer who gave us a quick tour of surround areas. We sat down for a cup of tea, but this time on a treetop, as we watched the setting sun paint the sky in hues of blue and orange, and then a subtle pink, here are there, before completely turning dark blue. As we made out way back at base camp, we watched the stars twinkle while listening to the crickets in the distance.
There is something about watching a fire, the way the logs crackled, the sound it makes, is soothing. Reminds me of the days back in France. Talk about reminiscing.
Being out in nature, surrounded by its sound, I felt so at peace. It took me a while to turn my mind off, as when I do nothing, my brain starts working on all the things I needed to do when I get home, the meetings I needed to attend, the appointment that needs to be made, who to chase for this and that and the list goes on. Shutting down the mind in a challenge but I did manage to in the end and it was just bliss.
The bonfire was great and it kept me nice and toasty warm before dinner was served. Home made roti and coconut sambol! And the chilli was full on too! As if the night couldn’t get any better.
Our little treetop accommodation came with a mosquito net and a clear view of the farm. Now after all the tea, and food and more tea, I desperately needed the toilet. The thought of parking my bum in the bush, with creepy crawlies around, was starting to hit warp speed. But fear not, as Kalum comes to the rescue! Hah! That man is the best. He had built a make shift toilet for guest which is pretty much a hole in the ground with ‘walls’ and an open view of the forest. Better than parking my bum in some random open bush in the dark!
After brushing my teeth with natural ‘toothbrush’ (certain tree roots are good for your gums, and your tooth paste has some of these root extract in them), and super-sweet-warm milk teas, we got onto the paddleboats and went for a cruise on the lake. It was a cloudy morning and a rather chilly one too; life on the lake was about as awake as us by this time. Birds were all huddled together like how the lotuses and lilies were clustered, and the breeze was blowing to a perfect rhythm; subtle and gentle.
One of the farmers was pretty nifty with his craft; he made a necklace for Jay and me out of a lily and made us both hats from the lotus pads. Pretty neat.
Next up: The most awaited temple run, Anuradhapura!