Great Expectorations

Day 3 – Galle

Colombo’s inexpensive but inextensive (don’t check your dictionaries) charms receded into the distance as we pulled out of Fort Station. We traded urban bustle for serene blue sea and as our train hugged the south coast nothing lay beyond the horizon but water and ice. I sat in the door of the train to watch the altered world pass by. Shacks lined the track and dotted the beach, a meagre existence for sure but one soothed perhaps by the constant crash of waves. We passed a sign ‘navel gazing ahead’. Do they look beyond the horizon the people within? Or can any of us not? Aren’t we all born of a planet where a journey can only end in a practical or emotional sense rather than a geographical one? There is a need to push our imaginary boundaries even when the desert ahead seems endless. Perhaps it is courage to stay or perhaps it is courage to resist that urge to stray. I should think that our lives are long enough to do both.
Galle swelters on the Southern tip of the island and no sea breeze can challenge the sun’s overpowering glare. The headland is ringed by an old Dutch fort, we did the tourist thing and walked its walls. A few miles down the coast they drive poles into the sand beneath the surf for the purposes of fishing atop them. It’s an oft photographed act and in reality charging tourists for pictures has easily surpassed the income to be earned from the actual fishing itself. I couldn’t see the point in paying a man to climb a pole and pretend to fish so my shots have crashing waves, dusky sky and unadorned sticks. I did find myself in my first conversation with a member of the Sri Lankan armed forces who, it appears, employ half of the island’s population. (the other half being, of course, tuk-tuk drivers). Mrs. Wijeneke’s guesthouse was to be our abode, my head still bears the scars of her low doorways.

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