Tales from Serendib #3 – Introducing Gino and his trusty steed.

The third instalment from a trip in Sri Lanka… 

Today the rain is thundering down with full force, which provided me with the perfect opportunity to write my next instalment. I officially enter my 3rd week and I think the locals of Unawatuna have accepted me as part of the inevitable cycle of semi-permanent residents that pass through.

This week I promised anecdotes from the capital Colombo, however in true Sri Lankan-style our trip has been ‘unfortunately delayed.’ However, Koggala Lake has its own interesting qualities. After months of studying Mangrove forests in one capacity or another as part of my courseat Uni, it was actually good to see some in the flesh.   Koggala Lake is roughly 20km long with several islands dotted around the lake. A boat trip is then predestined!

I enlisted the transportation services of not-bad-looking Gino, a local tuk driver (-cum-guide as it turns out!) who has been highly praised by virtually every local I know. Successfully negotiating a price of a motor boat, Gino, who I think took pity on my ‘single-girl-travelling-alone’ status, merrily informed me that he would be joining the trip.

Grinding Coconut on Koggola Lake.

Grinding Coconut on Koggola Lake.

My little tour consisted of: a visit to the cinnamon island, where a family showed us cultivation techniques, supplied plenty of cinnamon tea and I was then ‘obliged’ to buy ¼ Kilo! Temple Island, where the monks on Poya day (Full moon day) sat chanting their Buddhist prayers and Bird Island. Finally a wander round the spice garden, where the knowledgeable herbalist tried to sell me anything he could to cure my psoriasis.  I think he was quite insulted about my lack of enthusiasm. According to Gino, (a Buddhist himself) it is necessary to clean my blood in a slightly vampire-like way before any other medication will work – I wish they’d told me that 15 years ago! I’ve been promised, by Gino, a visit to the Ayurvedic (Alternative medicine) doctor for my ‘cure.’

Anyway, finally on the way home I found the real reason for Gino’s soft spot –  I resemble his ex-dutch girlfriend and subsequently remind him of a misspent youth in Amsterdam. (At this point I feel I should clarify that Gino is a) married b) with 2 children and c) 38!)  Yesterday, as Gino joined myself, Bec & Sudu at Kingfishers and brandished her photo, I can indeed confirm that there are some similarities!

Finally, I also underwent a cookery lesson Sri-Lankan style. So not only will I be able to eat rice and curry, I can now cook it! It turned out to be quite an occasion, as I joined a perma-culturalist from New Zealand and a South African Chef.  Gino on discovering my lesson, happily informed me that should I ever need any assistance in the cooking dept, he’d only be happy to help – he was a chef in Amsterdam. Of course, he was!

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This brings me to a nice round ending, next week I volunteered myself for an intensive Yoga course = 2 sessions a day for a week, which means getting up at 6. I may need that medicine man after all!

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