Tuesday, November 18, 2014

2014, Day 321 - Warning

It seems like we packed in a lot of things today.  Our morning started early and after catching up on the news of the world we decided to take a walk.  The hotel we're staying at is kind of in the jungle and past a bunch of modest homes.  Along the way we saw a mongoose and a number of birds including some pretty kingfishers.  When we arrived at the bridge we stopped to take a few pictures and turned back.

On the way back to the hotel Nanda, our driver, passed us and when we all made it to the hotel we decided to start out earlier than we had initially planned.  Our first stop was a quick breakfast at a local bakery and afterwards we headed to the river to go look for wildlife.  Nanda found a guy with a boat to take us down the canal and on the way we saw water monitors, crocodiles, more kingfishers, chipmunks, cormorants, fruit bats, and supposedly some bee eaters but we didn't actually see them ourselves.  It was okay but most of these animals we had already seen on our own previously.

But despite that mild disappointment we stopped off on the way to Galle at a sea turtle conservation place.  Much like the organization in La Libertad they enlist local fishermen to collect the eggs which they in turn purchase for twenty rupees each and create new nests in a protected area.  After forty-five days the baby turtles hatch and they then keep the babies for an additional three days before they are released.  The gentleman who was showing us around said they would like to keep them longer but they have so many babies that they often run out of room. Furthermore it would not really affect the survival rate which is less than one in ten to adulthood.

The center also houses some larger sea turtles.  These are either there for educational purposes or because they had some kind of handicap that keeps them from being fit for release.  One was born missing to flippers so he cannot swim well, another was born without eyes, and they even have one albino that is beautiful but whose lack of pigment would make an easy target.  It was fun to visit and I love sea turtles so I had a great time even though we didn't get to release them like we did in El Salvador.

Having had my turtle fix we headed south to Galle.  There we met up with Francene's friends Monica and Jean Ann.  They were a lot of fun so drinks turned into lunch which led to wandering around Galle Fort for most of the afternoon.

The fort was started in late 16th century by the Portuguese and further reinforced by the Dutch in the 17th century.  It is a world heritage site covering some 130 acres and is considered important because of the interplay of European and Asian architecture and design.  It is positioned so well that the tsunami that hit in 2004 did little damage to the fort even though it is right of the water.

We strolled the streets taking in the architecture and the humid Sri Lankan air.  A couple shops captured our interest briefly but that was fleeting and eventually we ended up at a waterfront restaurant where we had drinks and continued chatting, mostly about travel in and around Asia.  In no time it was almost five o'clock so we decided that it was time to head back north to catch a waterfront sunset and find dinner.

Initially we had a plan for sunset but because we lost track of time we went to the fish harbor.  Fishermen lined the road selling their catch but we didn't have much time to look and with no means to cook little motivation to linger.  Instead we headed for the water and caught the end of the sunset.

That complete we asked Nanda to help us find a place to eat.  He is not really familiar with the area so we tried one place that looked to serve locals and found the menu had a number of reasonable options.  Once we finished eating we returned to our hotel to consider packing and worry about the next phase of our travels.

Tomorrow is our last day in Sri Lanka as we're catching the red eye back to Bangkok where further adventure awaits.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 10-24/f4R OIS
17.4mm, f5.6, 1/280 sec @ 200 ISO

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