The lion, the elepant and the cave

I haven’t written in a while, as I tried to enjoy my last week in Sri Lanka as much as I can.. then the traumatic return to London with all its greyness, cold and rain ( but luckily also some awesome people who made the city likeable again).

I left Colombo on an early morning train, managed to find great company again, I sat with a lovely family who was travelling with their 2 year old son-quite a challenge for a 9hrs train ride. They were very nice, offering me food (as always) and asked me about my impression of their country. I think I need to rewind the story a little bit, as I meant to stay in a hostel in Sigiriya recommended by friends, however I got an email from the owner that they can’t accept guests at the moment and he left me with the availability of this mystery guy. So I thought he is probably not a serial killer( one can always hope..) and after a couple of phone calls arranged to meet him at the train station in Habarana. I arrived after a 7 hours journey ( we just stopped for an hour at the station just before Habarana for no obvious reason, but by this time a traveller developed an everything comes around on its own terms attitude and happily accepts the changes) .
Well, as you all guessed the guy wasn’t a serial killer:), he was very nice. I stayed at his homestay and before I knew it I found myself in a jeep on the way to see my beloved elephants. They are special to me ( I know they are very hip right now), I always liked them but during my teacher training in India I felt very connected to them, started my little yoga elephant drawings and one of them ended up in my logo for many reasons๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ˜Š. I was so excited that I forgot about the long train ride, being tired or hungry on my way to Kaudulla national park. Wellโ€ฆ.when youโ€™ve never been to a safari, you might have ideas of endless landscape with you and your jeep surrounded by animals close to nature. The reality is that there are hundreds of other people whoโ€™d like to do the same. The national park was crowded with jeeps, I was secretly wishing for Indiana Jones to appear and sort the โ€œexpeditionโ€ out. While our driver was nice and respectful towards the animals, not everyone followed the rules. Donโ€™t get me wrong, the first time when I saw the elephants it was still breathtaking, they were peacefully having their snack and seemed very used to the crowd..( I even started wondering if elephants go to human watching safaris..) and I saw little babies and managed to take some beautiful photos..But when a line off jeeps were crowding over both sides of a small herd and they couldn’t access the lake to have their drink, I felt ashamed for my fellow humans. So if you decide to go on a jeep safari in Sri Lanka, please make sure you choose a driver who would respect the animals you visiting, and no photo or elephant selfie worth the distress of such a magnificent , sweet and emotional creatures.


So the safari left me with a mixed bag of emotions, but I was definitely very happy to be able to observe elephant families having their afternoon snack.
I was knackered when I got back to the accommodation, so I just had dinner at a random little restaurant and went to sleep get ready for my busy day ahead.
I planned to wake up early and climb Lionโ€™s rock first thing in the morning, as I wanted to avoid the crowds and the heat( almost impossible). I got on the bus to Sigiriya and because of the time of the day it was full of locals making their way to work, ladies in beautiful sari uniforms, men in smart shirts and shoes ( just the thought of wearing shoes made me even more sweaty). This was a different scenery, red sand everywhere ( I still can’t get it out of my t-shirt ๐Ÿ˜†- an advice: donโ€™t wear white clothes around that area:) ) , no sea breeze, the heat felt more heavy. I got o Lionโ€™s rock around 8.30 and it was quite busy already, but still not too bad. The view totally worth the climb( which is not too bad, I still wasnโ€™t 100% but made it :). The history and culture of the place is very interesting, I didn’t have a guide but I did my reading beforehand(from here๐Ÿ˜‰) And on the top I just sat down and admired the view, chatted with a lovely Spanish girl about travelling and try to soak everything in. I had that feeling that I often feel in historical places that I would like to time-hop to see how it looked like before, the people lived in the palace, walk around the building and the gardens.


Eventually I climbed down, took the bus back to my little temporary home and had a power nap before I made my way to Dambulla. My accommodation (Sigiri Home stay) ย had an ideal location in that sense that it was right in the middle of Sigiriya and Dambulla with buses to both ways, so it was easy to hop on to the next one to see the cave temple. It turned out more steps are waiting for me to climb๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ, and finding the ticket office was a bit confusing ( I probably approached from the wrong entrance) but I was in. The 5 caves in the complex has 157 statues of Buddha in it, the best to start with 5 working your way up to 1๐Ÿ™‚. And don’t forget to look at the top of the caves, the paintings are very beautiful.

It was a nice two days filled with animals and culture but I felt the calling of the ocean aready, wished for the sea breeza and a dip in the salty water. So next morning I took the bus to the east coast, discover a different beach to Mirissa โ€˜s waves..
But that’s another story๐Ÿ˜‰, I’m off to enjoy the ๐ŸŒž( I think someone heard my complaint as London is sunny again ๐Ÿ™‚)…

Waves, whales and other tales-Good bye Mirissa

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Mirissa sunset

I am sitting in a guesthouse in Colombo, arrived here after a surprisingly long bus journey ( accident on the highway:() and a hopelessly lost tuk tuk driver.. now I managed to find some food from a nearby bakery and before I have an early night to get ready tomorrow’s long train ride, I have to write about the past week and a half.
After receiving the last blood test results, I started to feel relieved, slowly getting back to normal.. I celebrated my “survival ” with cooking fajitas for the others ( my Mirissa family๐Ÿ˜Š). It was really nice and started a tradition of dinners ย which I’m missing already. I never thought I will eat this much Italian food in Sri Lanka ( in case you guys worried, no I don’t miss out on traditional Sri Lankan food, that’s lunch:)…so we went through a series of pastas, pizza and risotto, and on my last night I made an attempt to cook Hungarian food๐Ÿ˜Šโค๏ธ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บyumm

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Pizza selfie!

I was also able to start teaching again, and I had really nice classes, a few of them one to one, and some small group ones. Sometimes we had to face interesting weather conditions ( when you send silent prayers for the rain not to start until you finish savasana๐Ÿ™‚) but the roof terrace totally worth the weather gamble. And none of the yogis mind a little refreshing rain… I will miss teaching and practicing there, with the breeze coming from the ocean, monkeys jumping on palm trees, the sound of the prayer, the bread car and our resident bird and KK coming up to check out what’s going on.

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One of KK’s best yoga poses

I think I was very lucky that James( the owner of JJ’s Hostel) was the first person to reply to my email looking for a volunteering position. Mirissa is a beautiful place and the hostel is amazing. A short walk away from the beach, with very comfy beds , nice and friendly vibe and a breakfast to die for ( french toast๐Ÿ’›), but most importantly the people who work there make this place as special as it is. The Sri Lankan staff making sure everything goes well . The chef who was always eager to observe what am I doing in the kitchen ( with her understanding of personal space๐Ÿ˜„) and cooked us delicious lunch. Dhanusha who was always keen to help with anything from finding gemstones for my sister to train bookings and he was always ready to tell me jokes with perfect poker face.

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Dhanusha the star
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The Chef in action( making my french toast)

The other volunteers, Lauren , this Aussie fairy who looked after me when I was ill, Metka and Rok, an awesome surfer couple who are truly one of the best teams I’ve ever seen and my fellow yoga teacher, Alessandra who taught me a beautiful class on my last morning and discovered Secret beach with me.

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And last but not least James, JJ himself, who built this place from literally nothing, really knowing what travellers need ( being one himself) and running the hostel as smoothly as possible. He is a bit of a role model for me, as I’m dreaming about building my yoga place one day( it always starts with a dream๐Ÿ˜‰). Besides his professional skills, he was always ready to respond my weird jokes and watched vampire movies with me when I was going to daily blood tests(yaay).
If you happen to be around Mirissa, definitely check JJs out, and eat a french toast for me ๐Ÿ˜‰
Mirissa was everything I needed for to recover, a beautiful and quiet beach, sun( with occasional pouring rain, making life very exciting) and quirky characters such as Lionel, my personal clothes maker, he has a little shop on the beach and makes beautiful clothes and accessories ( and custom makes stuff as well) . He has his “factory” as he calls it at his home and works very hard with his family.It was nice to have a chat with him time to time, although a bit dangerous as I never left empty handed(๐Ÿ™„). My other personal favourite was the coconut lady, who always gave me the best avocados and fresh king coconut (which I still have to learn how to open properly..), despite her injured leg (she was hit by a tuk tuk) working restlessly ,smiling every day.

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Lionel and his shop
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The coconut lady

I can’t write about my time in Mirissa without mentioning the buses… the cheapest rollercoaster ride ever, with entertainment ( all those Sri Lankan hits ๐ŸŽถ).

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The bus

I believe when J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter she took inspiration from these guys for the Knight Bus. If you don’t have a seat it’s a great test for balance and arm strength.

I was planning to go surfing but it had to wait until the last few days.. JJ’s volunteering crew got together , the pros and the beginners( although Alessandra turned out to be a natural talent) and we went to Weligama.
Well, me and the waves are usually friends, but to be frank it will probably take me longer to master them( a few years maybe๐Ÿ˜‚). I didn’t take it into account that I’m still not strong enough and got frustrated with myself a little bit, although I developed my falling off the board skills up to perfection… I will keep trying though and hopefully one day I’ll stay longer on the board than 3 seconds.

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Looks like a pro..
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..falls like a beginner๐Ÿ˜‚

The waves seemed to be a theme at the end of my stay, I went whale watching with Raja & whales and was lucky(again!) because the weather conditions made it impossible in previous days to go, but on my penultimate day I was on a boat on the way to see the largest mammal on earth. Remember I called the bus roller coaster, well this boat truly was. Being on rough sea like this made me realised ( as it often happens when I travel) how tiny and insignificant we are compare to the powers of Mother nature ( that’s why we should pay more respect to her!) But the crew handled the waves with amazing professionalism, supporting the ones needed help and they even jumped into the ocean to save a girl’s hat when it flew overboard. They had extensive knowledge of the whales and they even took photos of them( as most of us was holding on to the boat for their lives, they just casually walked around). And there they were, with their spouts and shiny back, giant and peaceful.. we saw a few of them, making me feel humble and amazed… And a little proud because there were a few people who stayed on the upper deck ( it’s calmer downstairs)and I was the only one who grew up in a landlocked country ( secret sailor ancestors maybe?).

 


Now I’m on my way to Sigirya, to see other spectacular animals( very close to my heart), and as I’m writing this I feel a bit emotional. Thank you Mirissa, for letting me swim in the ocean( and washed away by it a few times when I left my towel to close to the shore), JJ’s crew to make me feel home and appreciated , KK to spend some of her time with me( and letting me feed her graciously) and the people who joined my class and let me share some of the yoga awesomeness on the roof terrace.
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I hope to see you again one day!