Sunday, September 25, 2005

In Ella

When will I learn?

I end up arriving in Ella at 8:30. Now, I learned from my last late night train experience that arriving at midnight was a bad idea. However, it seems that arriving anytime after dark is not such a hot idea.

Sri Lankans in general go to bed early.. but it seems Ella is really bad. I arrived at 8:30, to find not a single taxi at the station. I wandered around for a bit at the station looking confused, and eventually, one of the station employees grabs a flashlight and walks me (down a steep path) to the center of Ella Town (a tiny place in itself). He takes me to the nearest guesthouse, speaks to them.. and suddenly, i'm sat inside, sitting on the family's sofa, talking to the lady of the house.

I explained that I had a reservation at another guesthouse, and could they please point me to the way. She calls up her husband, who arrives a few minutes later with his van, and drives me to my guesthouse. Both he, and the station chap refuse to take any money from me. Again, confirming the fact that most Sri Lankans are amazingly friendly. I'm repeatedly told that this is their duty to help foreigners.

I met 2 Australians on the train to Ella, and so I meet up with them for breakfast, and then a relaxing 4km walk down to a waterfall near town. It seems that every 200 meters or so, we come across a sketchy looking dog - however, the big umbrella i'm carrying proves to be quite useful in keeping them at a distance.

Eventually, we come across a parked truck, filled with Sri Lankans - who offer us a ride to the falls (we're half way at this point). Not wanting to miss a fun experience (and happy to get away from the remaining dogs on the journey), we hop on... soon enough, out comes a drum, and the entire bus is singing local songs. We do our best to clap along and smile... the locals seem to be really happy to have us along, and seem to be amused at our attempts to keep a beat.

The waterfalls themselves are nice enough - lots of locals bathing in them, with a few vendors hawking sparkly stones, and sweetcorn. I wander off and find a large group of military guys on their weekend off, completely drunk on Arrack (coconut liquor), and singing and dancing together. Soon enough, i've put my umbrella down, and am dancing amongst them. My salsa moves (learned this summer) prove to be pretty useful, and at one point, I catch the eye of an officer who asks me to take him back to my guesthouse.. Hah. At this point, the Aussies arrive, dance for a while, sing an authentic australian folk song, and then we all make a hasty exit minus the potentially gay soldier...

In the evening, we dine at my guesthouse - which reportedly has the best food in town. We eat a curry made pretty much solely of garlic cloves (very tasty), and a mind blowing eggplant curry - which the guesthouse owner has promised to show me how to cook tonight.

No phone access here, and internet is expensive... I'll probably be here for a few more days, as it's cheap, beautiful, and more relaxed than most other places thus far.

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