We visited a Mosque in Weligama, nestled on a cliff right atop the sea. The view was gorgeous. A big surprise was the caretaker of the Mosque: he was visibly an Arab! A lot of the Weligama population are descendants from Arab traders and obviously the community did not mingle much with the Singhalese.
We travelled the new Southern Highway, the first true highway in Sri Lanka. It was opened November 27th, 2011, and is only 126 km. long. We proceeded northwards along the west coast then inland, as o as they had built the highway a few kilometers away from the coast into the interior landscape. Besides a lot of green, we saw two dead and one living dog and will prefer to take the coastal road in the future.
We enjoyed our stay at the Royal Palms hotel very much and relaxed to the max.
On the weekend of May 5th, Iromi, Anura and their three boys joined us at the hotel. It was the start of the weeklong Vesak Celebration, the main Buddhist Holiday. All temples and houses were decorated with paper lanterns as well as the graveyards. After the sunset it was a spectacular sight.
The biggest and most colorful decorations were supposed to be in Colombo.
The mass migration for days with all modes of transportation, all travelling at a walking pace towards Colombo kept us from seeing it with our own eyes! For decades, the people had been used to avoiding all kinds of gatherings for fear of attacks and three years after the end of the war this fear had finally eased off.
A couple of days later Anura talked us in to visiting the Zoo at Dehiwala with him. We had heard of the Zoo before, but holding an annual ticket to the Basle Zoo we figured that it would not be worth it to us to go there.
That was way wrong! Besides penguins and polar bears, everything was there and in addition a lot of exotic animals. All set in a huge area with the most beautiful tropical vegetation. Everything made the Basle Zoo look quite small! And obviously there is another standard of precaution in Sri Lanka: we were able to see the animals from a minimal distance and one employee led us to the back of the vivarium. He grabbed various snakes out of their cages and tried to hand them to me with the words: no bite, no poison! It goes without words that I enjoyed feeding a baby elephant much more!
In the evening we met at Humaid’s house for a BBQ with Roy and his wife joining us. We looked back at our trip to the east and had some good laughs.
One week later there was a melancholic good bye to our friends but at the same time we looked forward to seeing our grandsons.
And after the holiday, it is before the next holiday!