After Rick and I enjoyed our power breakfast, we ventured away from the hotel to see our friend Kumara.
Kumara lives about 5 km from Heritance Ahungalla in a small city called Balapitiya. Rick originally met him while running on the beach at sunrise! They ran the coast together, after which Kumara showed Rick his home and offered a thaembili (king coconut) as a post-run refreshment. They chatted like old friends while sitting in the shade of coconut trees in Kumara’s front yard. Needless to say, we quickly became close with his family and friends as we shared many experiences together.
We met Kumara near the beach and rode with him and his son-in-law (Manoj) in their tuk-tuk back to Kumara’s house.
We chatted with his wife, daughter (Sachini), neighbors and friends for a while before we hopped back in the tuk-tuk to try and surprise Kumara’s son, Passidu,
at the neighborhood all-boys school.
Unfortunately, we were not able to find him, as a superintendent informed us that he headed to karate lessons just before we arrived.
I shot this picture of Sachini in front of a colorful mural with Sri Lankan script, painted by the students and teachers.
Time truly flies when you’re having fun. We looked at our watches and it was already 2:00 pm – where did the last 5 hours go?! Kumara’s friends had caught lobster earlier that day and planned to grill the seafood right on the beach for us. They effortlessly conjured up a spicy marinade, from ground mustard seeds, turmeric, salt, chili sauce and lime. Simply made, simply perfection.
With a full belly, we were off to the Madhu River!
I was excited to tour the Madhu River again, mainly because I didn’t have this camera two years ago but also to see what the newly-added fish massage was all about. I have seen fish pedicures in the Caribbean and in the States but this was certainly a larger type fish (a Mozambique breed) and an aggressive school.
This was tough for me to enjoy. I don’t like fish in large numbers biting my feet. Can’t get into it. I prefer to stick to a good ol’ pedicure! I’ll try anything once though! Just my thoughts getting the best of me… what if these fish just snap?? Hahaha!!
Cinnamon is ubiquitous on the island of Sri Lanka and unsurprisingly a family living on the Madhu River has made cinnamon stick rolling and packing their family trade.
After shaving and shaping the bark, the cinnamon bark is then sleeved where it dries in the open air for 8 days.
It is then packed in Ambalangoda (a city just south of Balapitiya) where it is distributed to Colombo and then shipped all over Europe. People love Ceylon cinnamon for its versatility and flavor and rightfully so. It is used in many Sri Lankan dishes like Paripoo (dhal curry), Kukul Mas (chicken curry), Wattalapam (a dessert similar to flan or pudding). Cinnamon can also be used as a vapor for colds and other ailments. These only scratch the surface of its value and demand in South Asia and the broader international market.
This family also produces twine from coconut shell fibers. The shells are submerged in water for 3 months to increase tensile strength. The fibers then are stripped from the shells and rolled together to create lengths of very strong twine.
Widely used for building boats, equipment, and even housing shelter, the coconut and all its components, flesh and fibrous shell are never wasted. Hooray for coconuts! Seriously, what a useful little nut, right??
Ending the cultural tour on the Madhu River, we passed a small island Buddhist temple, where monks are preparing for Vesak and Poya day (the day Buddha was born and died). An integral part of Sri Lankan tradition and cultural unity among the people, Vesak is a national holiday in Sri Lanka and revered in other Asian countries with strong Buddhist populations.
As the sun went down, I was snapping pictures of a pedestrian bridge and caught a man on his bike sticking out his tongue at me. I guess it is a universal thing!
Rick and Kumara were enjoying a good laugh after singing a baila on our return trip.
The hot equatorial sun left us tired and craving a quick bite on the way back to our hotel.
We ended our day with the infamous street food “Kothu Roti”. The roti is roughly chopped with large square blades that emanate the sounds of beating drums, and I unknowingly started dancing as we waited for our food. We had a good laugh.
The mixture of kukul mas (chicken curry), spices, soy sauce, and veggies was served with chicken hodi (gravy) and katta sambol (dried chili). I’d describe it as a fusion fried-rice, sans the rice and only better. Ginger and garlic were pronounced, which I appreciated, with a bit of a crispy texture to the veggies. This savory dish was spicy HOT and I loved every bit of it…
A plateful of kothu roti followed by a good night’s sleep.
It was a great day in Sri Lanka.